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To the complete surprise of students in Humanities 6, poet Robert Frost appeared yesterday to give an extensive reading of his poems.
After entering Longfellow Hall for a regularly scheduled lecture, students realized something unusual was happening when they spotted television cameras in the room. Part of Frost's appearance will be televised by NBC on November 11th. Publicizing the contents of a lecture is unprecedented in Harvard's history. The past, University tradition has decreed that what takes place in a class is solely the business of the teacher and his students.
Beuben A. Brower, professor of English and instructor of Hum 6, had Frost for a teacher at Amherst College. They have been friendly ever since. Frost, who is now living in Cambridge, learned that Hum 6 is covering his poems and asked Brower if he could speak about them to the class.
Brower said that Frost's surprise appearance yesterday was typical of him. At Amherst he often gave unannounced lectures to classes ranging from Greek to physics.
Frost's readings, together with his examinations and asides, drew a standing ovation from the audience. He read some of his most famous poems, including "Birches," and some recent works, including "Gift Outright," the poem he wrote for President Kennedy's inauguration.
The 87-year-old poet spoke on subjects varying from Scientific American (his favorite magazine) to modern "nonsense poetry."
He talked briefly about his recent visit to Russia and about conversations he had with Khrushchev, but did not say anything about Russian poetry. He delved briefly into politics, defining a liberal as a person "who would rather fuss with the Gordian knot than cut it."
Frost has had a long-standing association with Harvard. He was an undergraduate here for two years before the turn of the century. He was a Ralph Waldo Emerson fellow during the 1930's. He is also an associate of Adams House.
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