The way to be truly original is not to copy the distinctive characteristics of another's writings, nor indulge in the fads of the moment, but to rely on the natural and sincere expression of one's own personality, declared Robert Frost, speaking on "The Old Way to be New" at the New Lecture Hall last night.
A capacity audience attended the first of a series of the six Charles Eliot Norton lectures to be given during March and April.
"Every piece of creative writing is a fresh access of longing for the satisfaction of a great desire" asserted the poet, in discussing the quality of sincerity of emotion in poetry. To illustrate the kind of imaginative seizure that every true poet undergoes when he writes a poem, Mr. Frost cited an incident in his own boyhood in California.
An eagle, he said, one day swooped down terrifyingly close as he was walking along a mountain road, and left his young mind imbued with a strange exaltation as it soared away into the sky. "The intense feeling of longing for something", stated the lecturer, "is one of the strongest insurances that the expression of one's thoughts will be forceful and sincere.
"Escape" Used Too Often
"We use the word 'escape' too much in criticism today" was another of Mr. Frost's assertions. "We always seem to be trying to get away from something, and we are always motivated by the fear of not being original, or the fear of seeming foolish; to my mind there is nothing quite so enjoyable as two people winking over something foolish they have said. Instead of all this escaping and negative existence there should be more pursuit--active pursuit of things which are worthwhile".
An important consideration in writing poetry, asserted the lecturer, is the "sense of speaking to an audience"