Frost Blows Out the Candles and Makes Headlines

A Senate resolution, sponsored by 62 senators, honored the Consultant in Poetry on his 85th birthday. The day was celebrated with fanfare, not in Washington but in New York, where his publishers, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, arranged a dinner for eighty-five at the Waldorf-Astoria, including prominent figures in the literary and political establishment. Of particular note were the comments made by Frost at a press conference held afterwards. “Somebody said to me that New England’s in decay. But I said the next President is going to be from Boston.” When asked who he was referring to, Frost replied, “Can’t you figure it out? It’s a Puritan named Kennedy.” The comments made headlines across the nation, and ended up being prophetic. The following January, in 1960, John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy for U.S. President. He would then ask Frost to read a poem at his inauguration ceremony.

Robert Frost, posing with his birthday cake on his 85th birthday, March 26, 1949. He was serving as Poetry Consultant at the Library of Congress.

World Telegram photo by Walter Albertin, 1959. Used courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Robert Frost‘s term as U.S. Poet Laureate was from 1958 to 1959, and unlike all the previous Laureates, who spent their terms in residence in Washington, DC, Frost made special arrangements to be on site for only four visits of four or five days’ duration, in October, December, March and May. The arrangement was made considering Frost’s age; his stipend for the year was set at $8,000.