The Middlebury College Archives Danielle Rougeau has a christmas card sent by the poet Robert Frost in 1962, shortly before his death. The cards are Frost poems and art by various artists.
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MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – For the first time in more than half a century, a series of Christmas cards and booklets, which feature poems by Robert Frost, the poet known for his grainy images of rural New England life, are on display in Vermont is Middlebury College.
A number of the poems which were published for the first time in the cards, some were early versions of works in progress that went on Prince staples, while still others had been previously published.
The first card, sent in 1929 by a New York printer without the Prince’s consent included Frost’s poem “christmas trees”, a work about a city man to visit the country to buy a christmas tree: “He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees / woods — the young fir balsams like a place / Where all the houses are churches and towers.”
But not all poems about Christmas. In 1934, after the Frost, along with New York printer, Joe Blumenthal, the map of the poem “Two Tramps in Mud Time:” “Out of the mud two strangers came And caught me splitting wood in my garden / And one of them put me off my aim / By hailing cheerily ‘Hit them hard!'”
“This is a unique case for a great poet to decide to give out christmas cards every year with a unique poem and send it to his best friends,” said Jay Parini, a Middlebury College English professor and Frost biographer.
The prince was also interested in the visual impact of the images, often woodblock prints of New England scenes created by a series of artists over the years. The printing is done by Blumenthal, known for turning jobs into works of art in their own right.
“This meant a lot to Prince, that is why I love seeing here,” Parini said of the view of the entire duration of the christmas cards now on display in the college library through the holidays.
The prince had a decades-long relationship with Middlebury, to help find the Loaf Writers’ Conference, one of the most prestigious writers’ conferences in the country. The chair Frost was sitting during the write is also to see in the library, while a modern replica is in the entrance where people can sit.
The cards were part of a cache of “Frostiana” donated to the college in 1961, two years before the Prince of death, said the Middlebury College Archives Danielle Rougeau.
“This form, the combination of poem and form, beautiful materials and craftsmanship and design, do something to a poem, and Frost was aware that he thought it was important,” Rougeau said.
Dartmouth College, where the Prince studied it for a short time, also has a number of Frost christmas cards in the college library.
“Frost maps provide an interesting insight into his personal and professional relationships,” said Jay Satterfield, Dartmouth special collections librarian. “This is the side of himself that he wished to share with a select group of people.”
The earliest of the maps were done in 1929 by Blumenthal, that the printing of Frost’s poems, and decided that they would work well in his christmas cards.
Five years later, Blumenthal together with the Frost, and then divided Christmas books almost every year until in 1962, just before the Frost of death.