FROST, ROBERT. 1874-1963.
Autograph Manuscript Signed ("Robert Frost"), titled "Gold for Christmas," Inscribed on last page "For Reginald this first draft. with affection," 8vo, 13 pp, 1952, Vermont, hand paginated 1-12 with full page of canceled lines on verso of p 8, in blue notebook covers with linen tape spine with manuscript title to upper cover, leaves disbound.
Provenance: Reginald L. Cook; by descent to present owner.
ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT OF A LENGTHY UNCOLLECTED POEM, INSCRIBED TO FROST'S COLLEAGUE AND INTIMATE, REGINALD L. COOK. "'You stand and let me lean on you a minute / Till I can think. Don't ask me who I am. / I'm all mixed up from having been retired.' / He rued a bloody knuckle in the street light / As a girl gloats on her engagement ring. / I helped him shoulder one of his suspenders...." Thus opens the present manuscript of a long narrative poem titled "Gold for Christmas," describing the encounter on a freezing winter's night between the narrator and an elderly man, once a respected blast furnace operator at a local factory, now descended into dementia. The story is told in 238 lines; another 20 canceled lines appear on the verso of page 8, and the manuscript bears numerous additional corrections, deletions, insertions and amendments. The poem was never published in Frost's lifetime: drafts appear in archives at Dartmouth and Bluffton, and another draft, differing radically from the present manuscript, is printed on pp 507-11 of The Notebooks of Robert Frost edited by Robert Faggen (Harvard, 2006).
The manuscript was presented to Frost's close friend and colleague, Reginald L. Cook (1903-1984). From 1946 to 1964, Cook was director of the Bread Loaf School of English, which Frost was intimately involved with from the school's founding in 1919 until his death in 1963 (Frost's farm in Ripton, Vermont, is close by to the Bread Loaf campus). Well known as a scholar of Thoreau, Cook also published widely on Frost. Of his 1974 collection Robert Frost: A Living Voice, Peter Stanlis writes that it is "Cook's greatest contribution to Frost studies ... The book records their warm and unbroken friendship at Bread Loaf, Middlebury, and elsewhere ... He records the authentic and profound Frost in a manner that almost literally captures the 'living voice' of the poet, and in ten excellent essays he presents Frost in intimate action on the world of New England, poetry, and philosophy. Among many fine studies, this one is most valuable for a personal image of Frost" (The Robert Frost Encyclopedia p 66).
An outstanding Frost manuscript with extraordinary provenance.