FROST, ROBERT (1874-1963, American poet)
AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT OF HIS POEM 'THE OVEN BIRD', signed ('Robert Frost'), 14 lines, written below the printed text, evidently taken from a volume of his poetry ('Bond and Free' is printed on the verso), 1 page, octavo, not dated
There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten...
Sidney Cox, Frost's great friend, wrote in 1916 a letter addressed to him as 'Dear Oven Bird', saying that he thought that Frost, perhaps unintentionally, had referred to his own poetic aims in the poem ('Your voice as a poet is not loud, certainly.') Frost himself replied 'The large things in the book...you know better than to think the Oven Bird is of them.' In the poem Frost employs his intoning mode, as in 'Acquainted with the Night'.
The ovenbird is a small New England songbird of the warbler family. Its main song is a series of strident, relatively low-pitched, bisyllabic motives repeated without pause about eight times and increasing in volume. Ovenbirds utter a sweet chattering song in the air at twilight, after the manner of the skylark incorporating portions of the main song into a jumble of sputtering notes and mimicry as they dive back to earth.
There is no record of a manuscript of this poem having been sold at auction; it has been widely published.
REFERENCES: On Frost, edited by Edwin Cady and Louis Budd, 1991; William H. Pritchard, Frost: a Literary Life Reconsidered, 1984; William Evans, Robert Frost and Sidney Cox, 1981.