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You can't suspect me tonight of being political or scientific or anything else," Robert Frost told a packed Ford Hall Forum last night as he spent an hour and a half showing that "a poem is a a song within itself, not set to music."
Several times during the evening he ridiculed gently the ulterior meanings people have read into his poems. After ending a poem with "miles to go before I sleep," the poet remarked that "that's connected with education--I've probably got a class the next morning." "You can get a lot of extra meaning out of this," he said of another, "but it's beyond me."
He broke off a long, fanciful tale titled "How Hard It Is to Keep from Being King When It's In You and In the Situation," saying that the unread portion might seem "dangerously near a lot of things." Later Frost declined a request to read "Mending Wall" because "it's been used every which way.... It didn't have any politics in it when I wrote it long ago."
Frost returned often to the music of poems, saying that the music was chiefly in the connections of ideas. "The greatest interest of all to me is making 'em a different tune every time; that's why I don't write more than two a week."
"A Poem is a tune"
"A poem is a tune" was his "most important advice to a young poet," and he frequently typed his own poems as "pretty little rhymy ones." But his "Provide, Provide," he said, is "way over on the harsh side."
The self-imposed ban on anything but poetry was lifted during a question period when Frost commented on his recent visit to Russia. The trip was made, he said, only to see Premier Khrushchev, whom he found "a very good-natured man with a terrible lot of cool nerve, like a big horse trader."
Over 1000 people were turned away from the lecture.
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