FROST, ROBERT. 1874-1963.
Typed Manuscript Signed ("Robert Frost") with holograph annotations, Inscribed "For Reginald Cook," 13 pp, 4to, n.p., n.d. [ca.1951], titled "Hard to Keep from Being King," stapled at upper corner, small marginal stain to 5 pages, small tape repair to one other.
Provenance: Reginald L. Cook; by descent to present owner.
ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT OF A LENGTHY PHILOSOPHICAL POEM, READ FROM WHEN FIRST PRESENTED BEFORE THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND LETTERS; INSCRIBED TO REGINALD COOK. The poem was originally published in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1951. Above the title Frost has written "As read at the American Academy." The large font of the manuscript testifies to Frost's failing eyesight. The poem was published later that same year in a limited edition of 300 copies under the title Hard Not to Be King the title as typed on the present manuscript, before being corrected by Frost's hand to read "Hard to Keep from Being King," the title under which it would be published in In the Clearing (1961).
The manuscript was presented to his close friend Reginald L. Cook, director of the Bread Loaf School of English from 1946-64.
Both an Ars Poetica and one of Frost's central meditations on Free Will, "Hard to Keep from Being King" is a long blank verse narrative whose story was lifted from The Thousand and One Nights. For a discussion of the poem's themes, see A Critical Companion to Robert Frost p 161-3.