mc was that it came thrusting inrnwhere I did not want ‘ou. ‘I’hcrnidea is the thing with me. It wouldrnseem soft for instance to look inrnmy life for the sentiments in thern”Death of the Hired Man.”rnThere’s nothing to it believe me.rn. .. The objective idea is all I ecrrncared about. Most of my ideas occurrnin verse…. But I never reckonedrnwith the personalities. I keeprnto a minimum of such stuff in anvrn])oet’s life and works. Art and wisdomrnwith the body heat out of it.rn. . . To be too subjective with whatrnan artist has managed to make objectivernis to come on him presumptuouslyrnand render ungracefulrnwhat he in pain of his life had faithrnhe had made graceful.rnLess than three years earlier, Frost hadrncautioned Cox, also by letter, in a wayrnthat should have prevented him fromrn”getting out of hand”: “I’m never so desperaternfor material that I have to trenchrnon the confidential for one thing, nor onrnthe priate for another, nor on the personal.”rnThese statements are further reinforcedrnby Frost’s frequently voiced aestheticrnprinciple that there is no fallac’rngreater than that art is self-expression.rnIn condemning what C.S. Lewisrncalled “the personal heresy” in art Frostrnwas not objecting to biography as suchrnbut only to the presumptuous methodsrnand objectives of subjective-oriented biographers,rnsuch as PVeudians and othersrnwith a doctrinaire ideology, who werernbent a priori upon exploring “the secretrnplaces” of his mind and emotional lifernwhile ignoring or minimizing the objectivern”art and wisdonr” in his poetrv^ andrnphilosophical ideas. 1^’rost believed thatrnthe nrost important consideration for arnbiographer was his philosophical principlesrn(“the idea is the thing with me”)rnand his poetry as an art form, not his sxrbjectivernemotional nature or condition.rnIn a letter to Thomas entworth 1 ligginson,rnEmily Dickinson denied the validityrnof a purely autobiographical interpretationrnof her poenrs: “When I staternmyself, as the representative of thernverse—it does not mean—me—but arnsupposed person.” Frost always held tornthe same principle of aesthetics. Implicitrnin his denial that “the sentiments inrnthe ‘Death of the Hired Man'” could bernfound in his personal life are two ofrnFrost’s cardinal principles of aesthetics;rnthat during the creative process the poetrndiscovers the theme in his subject andrnexperiences a revelation, and that therncompleted poem is essentialh^ an objective,rnautonomous, fictional product ofrnthe poet’s imagination, skill in technit]rnue, and passion for form—not a projectionrnor record of his personal historyrnor disguised autobiography. As early asrn1915, in a letter to Louis Untcrmever,rnFrost wrote, “I,et us neer take a poet asrna subject.”rnThroughout his life Frost objectedrnstrongly whenever anyone tried to interpretrnone of his poems as disguised autobiography.rnIn 1939, during the BreadrnLoaf Writers’ Conference when a womanrnconferee asked what he meant by liisrnpoem “Fire and Ice,” Frost quoted thernpoem and said, “It means that.” Lhernwoman looked baffled. To underscorernthe objective self-sufficiency of his poenrrnFrost added, “If I had wanted to say anythingrnmore I would have included it inrnthe poem.” When the conferee jjcrsistedrnin assuming that the poem was mere-rn1 Frost’s personal self-expression, he putrnher down with a withering rhetoricalrnquestion: “When 1 use the word ‘I’ in arnpoem, surely you don’t think 1 meanrnme?” In his poem “Iota Subscript,” Frostrnunderscored his aesthetic principle thatrnart is not primariK self-expression: “Seekrnnot in me the big I capital.” To Frost, poetryrnwas not adjunct to psychology, science,rnreligion, grammar, history, or anyrnother subject, it was an end in itself.rnWhatever poetr contributed to a betterrnunderstanding of these subjects wasrnderi’ati’e, a b-product of the poem asrnan art object. Neither the confessionaltrnpe of poetr nor a tabloid press sensation-rnseeking tpe of biography was acceptablernto Frost.rnLarge portions of Mevers’ biographyrnnecessarily deal with basic empiricalrnfacts of Frost’s life that have been longrnestablished b previous biographers, particularlyrnThompson. Mevers has assimilatedrnthese facts well and presents themrnin a chronological principle of arrangement,rnso that he provides much essentialrninformation in the unfolding importantrndevelopments in the poet’s life. But hisrnheavy dependence upon Thompson suggestsrna scissors-and-paste job that sometimesrnlands him in errors. For example,rnhe follows his predecessor’s false statementrnthat Frost willed the I lomer NoblernL’arm to Kav Morrison, whereas it wasrnwilled in fact to Middleburv College,rnwith the provision that the Morrisonsrnmight occupy it for ten summers afterrnhis death. A year before the decade wasrnup, I visited the Morrisons on the farmrnand heard them complain bitteriy thatrnFrost should have left them the use ofrnthe farm for their lifetime.rnOthers of Meyers’ errors are of his ownrnmaking, the result of carelessness orrnhaste. During the summer of 1962 I invitedrnFrost to give a poetry reading andrnreceive an honorary degree at the Universityrnof Detroit. Meyers describes thisrnevent:rnIn November 1962 Frost read to hisrnlargest audience, 8,500 at the Universityrnof Detroit, and showed astonishingrnresilience and energy.rnHe spoke for 90 minutes withoutrnsipping water or missing a line, andrnanswered all the questions withrnclarity, liveliness and wit. Whenrnhe finished the stunning performancernand came off the stage, Kayrnwas waiting for him in the wings.rnThere are at least four errors in Meyers’rnstatement. First, the audience was closerrnto 10,000; 8,500 people sat in the athleticrnarena of the Memorial Building, butrnan additional 1,500 were under the arenarnstands in a gym equipped with closedcircuitrntelevision reception. Second,rnFrost, who was quite ill while in Detroit,rndid not display “astonishing resiliencernand energy.” Third, he read and commentedrnfor slightly more than an hour,rnbut owing to the size of the audience,rnthere was no question period afterward.rnFourth, during Frost’s visit Kay Morrisonrnwas in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Meversrnhas fused Frost’s poetry reading inrnDetroit with one he gave at DartmouthrnCollege after he returned to Cambridgernfrom Detroit. This type of error docs notrnprovide much grounds for confidence inrnthe biographer.rnBut a far more serious flaw in Meyers’rnbiography is his total lack of awarenessrnand knowledge of or concern for Frost’srnphilosophical beliefs and life of thernmind. In a letter to Thompson (July 11,rn1959), Frost identified his philosophicalrnand intellectual nature beyond dispute:rn”I am a dualist.” Whereas Thompsonrngarbled Frost’s philosophical dualismrnand failed to understand its crucial importance,rnMevers totally ignores it. As arnconsequence he has no comprehensionrnof the philosophical basis of Frost’s viewsrnon science, religion, aesthetics, poetry,rneducation, society, and politics. His sub-rn34/CHRONICLESrnrnrn