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September 9, 2013 9:24 PM   Subscribe

'Robert Frost', a poem by George Bilgere

The first stanza:

"Over there on the dining room table
are just twenty-five of the thousands of essays
on the poetry of Robert Frost
produced this week alone in the USA,
the world leader in essays on Robert Frost."
posted by paleyellowwithorange (15 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
posted by feckless at 9:45 PM on September 9, 2013

It's worth listening to Garrison Keillor's reading of the poem, too. Resignation embodied.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 9:48 PM on September 9, 2013

Sitting at my desk, in a small house in Michigan,
late one September night, or is it early morning?
I came upon an FPP about Frost.

No, not that Frost, not the Frost of the approaching Fall,
not the Frost that comes with the dropping of the leaves.
This was the Frost of poetry,
the hallowed one that had spent so many years at the nearby University.
The Frost that we grew up reading in Michigan,
the Frost that etched word pictures in our young minds,
leading us down paths.
Paths that shaped our childhood,
paths that led to literature and creativity, paths that kindled a spark of imagination.

This Frost was not to be bandied about with clever sarcasm in order to invoke laughter.
This Frost was not to be made fun of, twisted,
turned into a tool to baffle and confuse underclassmen for the amusement of untenured,
underpaid, and sexually frustrated Assistant Professors, whose vantage point from the front of the hall only furthered their longing for dark hallway coed delights.

Good fences make good FPP's.
Make sure your fence excludes defamation of hallowed poets,
make sure your fence surrounds his work with protection and admiration.

There are two paths for this FPP,
do not be sorry that you chose the wrong one.
posted by HuronBob at 10:07 PM on September 9, 2013 [8 favorites]

I thought the poem was more of a commentary on the nature of education in general, rather than a mishandling of Frost's legacy. But maybe I misread the poem (or your poem).
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 10:22 PM on September 9, 2013

I thought the poem was more of a commentary on the nature of education in general, rather than a mishandling of Frost's legacy. But maybe I misread the poem (or your poem).

In conclusion, ambiguity is a land of contrasts.
posted by Noms_Tiem at 10:23 PM on September 9, 2013 [14 favorites]

Perhaps I was a bit ambiguous... or up too late...
posted by HuronBob at 10:25 PM on September 9, 2013

I chuckled. Ambiguously.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:26 PM on September 9, 2013

posted by anotherpanacea at 10:35 PM on September 9, 2013

The only important question is whether you would launch yourself from an ice loaded clicking arched birch tree towards heaven or not.
posted by localhuman at 11:29 PM on September 9, 2013

Robert Frost is responsible for the occasional poetry ear worm that I used to get, wonder about for months, then suddenly find it and go, oh, that poem. In this case, the last bit of Out, Out, which is something along the lines of "and they, since they were not the one dead, turned back to their affairs"

Used to bug the shit out of me, wondering where that had come from.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:18 AM on September 10, 2013

In college, Stephen Spender, who was a visiting artist one year, told us a story about Frost teaching a poetry writing class one Fall. His students submitted their first poems. Frost brandished the stack of papers and demanded to know who needed theirs back. No one said anything, they thought, I suppose, that this would inconvenience the great man. "No one? Really?" said Frost, who then tossed the verse into the garbage, explaining "If you don't want them, I certainly won't bother reading them".
posted by thelonius at 5:54 AM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

That is very nicely done. Then again, anyone teaching introductory anything has moments of thinking what a gross simplification and betrayal of the true complexities of the subject they have to perpetrate as they lead students towards more productive and richer engagements with the subject. An essay on "ambiguity in X poem of Robert Frost" can seem head-desk-thumpingly tedious and obvious when you've read a thousand of them, but for the student working through the ideas for the first time it may well be genuinely revelatory, and a hard-won insight into the complexity of poetic meaning.
posted by yoink at 9:23 AM on September 10, 2013

I snorted, unambiguously. I didn't read that as a commentary on Frost's work at all, but as a commentary on those stale, futile school assignments that I remember loathing as a student; what I always thought of as "Try to guess what the teacher wants me to read into this poem or story" essays. It hadn't really occurred to me that teachers feel pretty much the same way about them.
posted by usonian at 9:54 AM on September 10, 2013

"I chuckled" is a deconstructionist prop. As cited in [Wilson], [Schieber], [Greenwall], and others [2-4,17,22,33-34,40], such desconstructionalist props often serve to reinforce, rather than reduce (or "deconstruct", if you will) the social themes examined by the author in regards to the previously mentioned Frost piece...
posted by IAmBroom at 10:16 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

See also.
posted by ericbop at 11:38 AM on September 11, 2013

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