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A Symposium on a Lost Poem by Robert Frost

ISSUE:  Fall 2006

Just seven years ago, I was lucky enough to find an incomplete draft of a Robert Frost poem that had escaped the attention of Frost scholars. The poem was published and ballyhooed as the last scrap of Frost verse we could ever expect to read. And, at the time, it seemed most likely that was true. That is why the discovery of a complete, unpublished, and heretofore unknown Frost poem is so staggering. VQR is gratified to feature this discovery, both because it is one of the remarkable treasures in the University of Virginia’s special collections and because it welcomes back Robert Frost to our pages. Between 1928 and 1946, Frost published eleven poems in VQR, including such classics as “Acquainted with the Night,” “The Silken Tent,” “The Gift Outright,” and “Directive.”

This twelfth poem, “War Thoughts at Home,” is part of the Frederick G. Melcher Collection of Robert Frost purchased by the special collections in 2005—but it was not discovered, inscribed in a copy of North of Boston, until this year by Robert Stilling. We present it here, by courtesy of the Estate of Robert Lee Frost and Peter Gilbert, Executor and Trustee, along with accompanying essays by Stilling and Glyn Maxwell. The poem will be publicly displayed for the first time at a reading of these essays by Stilling and Maxwell as part of “A Celebration of Robert Frost” at the Harrison Institute, University of Virginia, on October 20. Special acknowledgment is due to Sara Lee Barnes, Stephen Cushman, Lesley Francis, and Michael Plunkett for their key roles in bringing this symposium together.


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