In 1918, American poet Robert Frost wrote a poem called "War Thoughts at Home." It remained unknown to the rest of the world until this year. Frost is pictured here in 1926.
In this poem from 1918, Frost reflects on the fighting in Europe during World War I. At the direction of the Frost estate, only the first two stanzas appear here:
On the backside of the house
Where it wears no paint to the weather
And so shows most its age,
Suddenly blue jays rage
And flash in blue feather.
It is late in an afternoon
More grey with snow to fall
Than white with fallen snow
When it is blue jay and crow
Or no bird at all.
In 1918, Robert Frost inscribed a handwritten poem in the cover of a friend's book. For 88 years, the work remained hidden from the world, until Robert Stilling, a graduate student in English at the University of Virginia, recently discovered it.
The poem is called "War Thoughts at Home" and was written in the cover of a book belonging to Frederic Melcher, a well-known American publisher and friend of Frost. That book was part of a large collection of materials related to Frost recently acquired by the university.
Ted Genoways is editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review, where the poem will be published this week. He says that the poem fits in well, if not obviously, within Frost's body of work.
"The way that I see it fitting in is that Frost is very much a poet of foreboding for me, and very much of mood," Genoways says. "This image of him as the kindly old poet of New England is very inaccurate."
Stilling and Genoways discuss the newly discovered poem with NPR's Andrea Seabrook. Stilling's essay on the story behind the poem will also be published in the Virginia Quarterly Review and appears here below.