Robert Bernard Hass reviews Peter Stanlis's Robert Frost: The Poet as Philosopher (via Books, Inq.):

On Robert Frost’s 85th birthday, Henry Holt and Company, Frost’s lifelong publisher, threw a party in his honor at the Waldorf-Astoria and invited the eminent critic Lionel Trilling to deliver the keynote address. Widely regarded at the time as the champion of high modernist culture, Trilling stunned Frost’s friends and supporters by confessing that he had long disregarded Frost as a purveyor of rural pieties and had only recently begun to admire him for the “Sophoclean” horror he saw in the poems. "I regard Robert Frost as a terrifying poet," he announced. "The universe he conceives of is a terrifying universe." In the wake of the controversy his address instigated, Trilling sent a letter to Frost apologizing for any discomfort his remarks had caused. "Not distressed at all," Frost wrote back. "You made my birthday party a surprise party." Frost then concluded his letter with a sentence that would prove prophetic: "No sweeter music can come to my ears than the clash of arms over my dead body when I am down" (more...)

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