Even Robert Frost sent Christ­mas cards late

Col­lege has col­lected 500 cards with his hol­i­day po­ems.

Austin American-Statesman - - TV TONIGHT - By Holly Ramer

HANOVER, N.H. — Take heart, hol­i­day pro­cras­ti­na­tors: Famed poet Robert Frost once waited un­til July to get his Christ­mas cards in the mail.

Un­like the flimsy, for­get­table cards of to­day, how­ever, Frost’s cards ar­guably were worth the wait. For the past 28 years of his life, he teamed up with a bou­tique printer to send beau­ti­fully il­lus­trated book­lets fea­tur­ing a dif­fer­ent poem for each year.

Dart­mouth Col­lege, which Frost briefly at­tended as a stu­dent and later re­turned as a lec­turer, has col­lected more than 500 of the cards, in­clud­ing the first in­stall­ment, which was sent with­out Frost’s knowl­edge.

In 1929, Joseph Blu­men­thal of the New York­based Spi­ral Press, who was set­ting type for one of Frost’s po­etry col­lec­tions, de­cided the poem “Christ­mas Trees” would make an at­trac­tive greet­ing card. With per­mis­sion from Frost’s pub­lisher, he printed 275 copies, one of which even­tu­ally made its way to Frost. The poet liked it so much, he de­cided to col­lab­o­rate with Blu­men­thal on cards start­ing in 1934. The re­sult­ing se­ries lasted un­til 1962, the year be­fore his death.

“It was one of the more fun things about him,” said Frost bi­og­ra­pher Jay Parini, a pro­fes­sor at Ver­mont’s Mid­dle­bury Col­lege. He called the cards a “re­mark­able tra­di­tion” that’s car­ried out by other po­ets to­day.

Many of Frost’s cards fea­ture wood­cut il­lus­tra­tions evok­ing the New Eng­land land­scape with which he was so deeply as­so­ci­ated. Printed on heavy card­stock, some run 15 pages.

The 1942 card in­cluded a hand-col­ored il­lus­tra­tion of a coun­try vil­lage and the poem “The Gift Out­right,” which Frost, who won four Pulitzer Prizes for po­etry, later re­cited from me­mory at the in­au­gu­ra­tion of Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy.

In one of his 1953 cards, he ex­plained why the poem “Does No One at All But Me Ever Feel This Way in the Least?” was post­marked July in­stead of De­cem­ber.

“This Christ­mas poem, though not iso­la­tion­ist, is so dan­ger­ously iso­la­tion­ist, it was thought bet­ter to send it out for In­de­pen­dence Day in­stead of Christ­mas,” he wrote.

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