Although something of a liberal icon because of his presence at President Kennedy’s inauguration, poet Robert Frost was anything but left-wing, according to a friend who knew him well.
Dr. Peter Stanlis, distinguished Professor Emeritus, Rockford College who has been Frost’s friend said the most celebrated American poet of the 20th Century was 90 when he spoke at the Kennedy inauguration on January 20, 1961. He added that in his poems, Frost examined social and philosophical themes, but his hostility towards President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” was evident.
Frost regarded himself as orthodox in religion. He accepted Christianity, the doctrine of incarnation.
Nonetheless, he thought belief preceded reason. He said that “the opposite of utopia is civilization.”
He regarded ideology as the corruption of philosophy. For him, ethics was the crucial subject.
Dr. Stanlis says Frost was highly critical of the U.N. He wanted to preserve national sovereignty.
In letters to journalists and friends, he made it crystal clear that dualism was basic to his own thinking: “matter in terms of spirit, spirit in terms of matter.”
He argued that you cannot appreciate Frost’s poetry unless you understand his philosophy which rejected “monism”—the idea that reality can be explained with a single principle like materialism.
Frost favored “dualism,” the idea that reality is based on principles like the spirit and matter. He believed that reality consists of belief and spirit.
Science is a physical matter, and religion is mainly concerned about the spiritual. Religion and science may contradict each other.
According to Frost, politics is a branch of ethics. Dr. Stanlis explained the tools of a poet during his lecture at the Heritage Foundation as consisting of analogies, illusions, paradoxes, ambiguities, even puns, understatements, similes, tones and plots.
But, Frost refused to explain his poems. His poems, he thought, were self-explanatory.
Dr. Stanlis refers to the dualistic opposites of justice and mercy. He illustrates examples, and says the Republican Party tends to favor justice for individuals whereas the Democratic Party tends to favor mercy for the masses.
Frost was very skeptical about the whole idea of progress. Technical improvement, according to him, has no effect on changing human nature.