Alexander Historical Auctions LLC

Lot 437

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Description: ROBERT FROST
(1874-1963) American poet and four-time Pulitzer Prize winner, his work was characterized by homey language and easy verse forms, mainly concerning life in rural New England. Extremely rare A.Q.S. accomplished on the mat of a framed S.P. "Robert Frost" 7 1/2" x 9 1/2" b/w bust portrait. On the mat, Frost has added the final four lines of his most quoted 1922 poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening": "The woods are lovely[,] dark and deep, / But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep". Below, Frost signs again, "Robert" and inscribes it "to Ann and Phil affectionately Richton VT Aug 11 56". Provenance: Philip and Ann Broughton (the original recipients) to a descendent, the present owner. Philip Broughton served in the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt and was prominent in Democratic social circles and had met Frost several times during the 1950s. Broughton himself was an amateur photographer who studied with Ansel Adams. The poem, first published in 1923 is one of Frost's most quoted poems. He wrote the poem (about winter) on the morning of June 1922 after staying up the entire night composing the lengthy poem "New Hampshire". When he had finished the poem, Frost realized it was dawn and went outside to view the sunrise and suddenly got the idea for "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". He wrote the new poem as if he "had a hallucination", in only "a few minutes without strain". John F. Kennedy loved Frost's poetry and he often read the poem's closing lines during campaign speeches. The poem was immortalized, however, by White House correspondent Sid Davis, when closing his broadcast on the evening of November 23, 1963 as Kennedy's casket arrived at the North Portico of the White House. He recalled later, "I did something that broadcasters ought never to do. If you think you're going to break up, if you think something bad is going to happen to yourself and you're not going to get through it, you don't attempt it. I closed the broadcast with part of a Robert Frost poem that Kennedy used to use when he campaigned...'Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening'...I got about three words into this thing and I broke up, I mean badly; I couldn't finish". A tremendous rarity: we have only seen one other quote of this poem sell in the past thirty years. The same four lines, accomplished in his 1936 work, A Further Range, sold for $4,500 (Bonhams, Oct. 15, 2008). Only two complete transcriptions of the poem have appeared on the market in the past forty years. One example, accomplished in the first trade edition of his volume, New Hampshire sold for $35,850 (Bonhams, Oct. 17, 2006) while another accomplished in a 1913 edition of A Boy's Will sold for $600 more than 30 years ago (Sotheby, 1972). Signature on photograph is faint, but the poetic quote and inscription on the mat is quite bold and distinct. Overall fine condition with only light age toning and ready for display.

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March 30, 2011 11:00 AM EDT

Stamford, CT, US

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