Fall of Frost

Written by Brian Hall
Review by Tess Allegra

Robert Frost, the beloved American poet, was born into a long and sorrow-ridden life in 1874. High infant mortality made parents show little or no affection, and children, often bursting to express themselves, were bewildered into silence. Yet Robbie took refuge in words and nature. Both became a necessary balm for his grief and guilt resulting from the tragedies of his life, particularly the death of Elliot, his firstborn. Frost’s struggle for recognition of his poetry triumphed during a stay in England, where he was first published. Soon his own country would honor him with a sincere enthusiasm and awards for his work.

Facts about Robert Frost can be found in any encyclopedia, but Fall of Frost brings us inside the man’s life and mind in a new way. The poet’s “mental narration” leads us into the palpable world of this life-weary but unyielding poet as he darts among his life events not unlike an old man on his deathbed, lost in remembering. Deep slices of Frost’s past are interspersed with the current timeline which begins the novel: Frost’s visit to Russia in 1962 by invitation of Nikita Khrushchev. Nuclear danger lurks. President Kennedy worries. Frost wonders what his flying across the world will accomplish. Arriving to find the Premier rudely absent (on vacation!) he knows it’s not diplomacy. The 88-year-old poet is ferried around Moscow so the Russians can see “the people’s poet” of America.

Among continuous changes of time and place, this book is compelling reading, even the chapters that are as short as a single poem on a page. The reader lives Frost’s life intensely through the pen of Brian Hall in this unique telling of a great poet’s life.