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The sound of sense: Clive James on Robert Frost

There is an old view of Robert Frost as a talented simpleton—but his letters reveal the deep intelligence behind his poetry

By Clive James  

Frost in Vermont, 1958: “When not actually practising his art, he thought about it so hard that it was a wonder he had time for anything else” © Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

While its subject was still alive, the first two volumes of Lawrance Thompson’s relentlessly hostile biography of Robert Frost had already come out, creating a lasting image of the simple poet as a manipulator without conscience. Journalists of all altitudes loved that image because it made for easy copy: cracker-motto bard envied real poets, etc. After…

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