An online exhibit presented by Special Collections at Middlebury College

Robert Frost at Bread Loaf


"In the end he talked as naturally as he breathed: for as long as you got to listen you were sharing Frost's life. What came to you in that deep grainy voice—a voice that made other voices sound thin or abstract—was half a natural physiological process and half a work of art; it was as if Frost dreamed aloud and the dream were a poem. Was what he said right or wrong? It seemed irrelevant. In the same way, whether Frost himself was good or bad seemed irrelevant—he was there, and you accepted him."

—Stanley Burnshaw in Robert Frost Himself

All but one of the Robert Frost lectures presented here were recorded on reel-to-reel audio at Middlebury College's Bread Loaf campus or at Mead Chapel. The transcripts have been edited to remove material to which Middlebury College does not have copyright and the accompanying audio is usually only an excerpt. See About this exhibit for detailed copyright and provenance information.

In this text of an early lecture, Frost writes about the relationship of form to idealism.

Frost tells a fable in this 1950 Mead Chapel address.

In this talk about pedagogy Frost uses a recurring theme of balancing discipline and training with lightness of touch.

A question and answer session at the Barn.

A discussion about progressive education.

Frost talks about understanding somebody else's symbols and reads some of his own poetry.

Discussing the importance of pure poetry, Frost says that "a poem will bear only so much of teaching."

Frost illustrates the use of parables in his own poetry and comments on the works of Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, John Keats, Walter Savage Landor, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Percy Shelley, and John Masefield.

Saying that "there's a good deal of sway in my poetry," Frost discusses understanding his and others' poems.

A wide-ranging discussion by Frost of Puritanism and philosophy, touching on many topics. Toward the end of the lecture he talks about his recent trip to South America.

Frost talks about surmise and what he calls "guessing at each other."

Frost takes couplets and pairs as his theme.

Frost talks to Bread Loaf teachers about questioning the system and thinking for themselves.

After a little "preliminary indulgence," a reading.

On the fortieth anniversary of the founding of Bread Loaf, Frost chooses a line from Emerson for his evening talk.

Frost discusses our attitude toward what we cannot know and the ideas that make us what we are as a Western civilization.

A well-organized discussion by Frost of the technical aspects of poetry and of finding the words and ideas. He discusses the Transcendentalist idea of "a thought without words."

Frost discourses on science and ideas. Toward the end of the reading he recites a bit of humorous offhand verse for his audience that "I'd never print but I'd say it confidentially."

In his book Robert Frost: A Living Voice, Reginald Cook notes that this was Frost's last lecture at the Bread Loaf School of English before his death on January 29, 1963.