Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More on George W. Bush's fav Frosty poet

In Spring of 1999, when I first taught a college-level "literature" course (as opposed to composition, argument, or business writing), I had little idea we were to get a strong dose of W. for 8 consecutive years. I did already know Bush--his name was on the political map if not yet the placemats in West Texas diners. It was a few years later that I greeted with a chuckle the pertinent information that Robert Frost was George W. Bush's favorite American poet.

George Creeger first introduced me to Robert Frost in a survey course in the Spring of 1988. Creeger was an excellent professor with a voice for literature and an ability to project from behind the podium of any large hall. Toward the end of our class on Frost, he introduced us to the subtextual possibility that all of Frost's poems have a potentially erotic undertow to them, often mono- or homo-, but not necessarily devoid of heterosexual hidden meaning. "Birches" for example gives us:

Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

That certainly is not any "normal" way for young women to dry their locks. As a child of the 1970s and 80s it is hard not to see that famous poster image of Farrah Fawcett-Majors (no major hyphen these days) whenever I read those lines. How did their hair get so wet anyway?

I wonder which lines and meanings mean the most to our former President? Has he too enjoyed his peace with nature? I've heard he is an early riser as well as a good napper, but could it be that within the White House he became "Acquainted with the Night"? Perhaps King George has felt "weary of considerations,/ And [that] life is too much like a pathless wood"? Many of course saw his Presidency as one in which not enough was considered, but although he never once asked for or earned my vote, it did seem to me like the weight of the world was on his shoulders much of the time. He seemed like one who could identify with a Frost narrator, a person alone at night or at odds with the world, its practices, or ideas.

Anyway, for more Robert Frost, check out The Literature Network or another free source of poetry. I hope you enjoy the less Dubya of your future.

Happy Tuesday.

Alex Kudera

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