A Scientific Companion to Robert Frost, by Virginia F. Smith

January 19, 2018

Mention Robert Frost and people instantly think of snowy woods and less-traveled paths and rural neighbors meeting to fix their stone fence. What does this rhyming grandfather have to do with science? You might be surprised. Born in 1874, Frost lived through a remarkable period of scientific progress, including the development of quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity, the Big Bang theory, the discovery of the structure of DNA, and the beginnings of space travel. Frost was highly knowledgeable about the science of his time and infused his poetry with imagery and language borrowed from science. But if we judged Frost only on how often he used scientific-sounding words, we would miss the fact that Frost also uses ordinary language to create sophisticated metaphors based on scientific concepts such as evolution and entropy. A Scientific Companion to Robert Frost is the first systematic attempt to catalogue and explain all of the references to science and natural history in Frost’s published poetry.



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