(Host) Commentator Alan Boye visits the southwestern corner of the state to search for the final resting place of one of Vermont’s most illustrious citizens.
(Boye) I’m trying to find the grave of poet Robert Frost. Somewhere, in this clutter of tombstones around me, is Frost’s final resting place. Bennington’s Old Burying Ground is just down the road from the towering battle monument. The old cemetery presses close to an imposing clapboard-sided church. I can understand why Frost would have liked this place. This is about as New England perfect as a cemetery could be. I stop and look down one of the rows of ancient tombstones. The face of a popeyed, round-headed angel stares out at me from one of them.
Frost – a scrappy, well muscled man, might also have appreciated the fact that Vermont’s most famous revolutionary war hero – Ethan Allen – tossed down a fair number of potent drinks in a tavern that once stood nearby. Apparently his favorite drink was a deadly mix of local hard cider and rum. Appropriately enough, the drink was called “The Stone Wall.” Frost would have liked that too. Like any poet, Frost loved words. He understood that words are themselves a kind of stone. He loved the way words worked together to create meaning. Sometimes we hurl the hard, stony words of hate; sometimes we allow the weight of words to build poems of deep beauty and love.
I walk deeper into the burial ground, led by a small sign conveniently directing me to Frost’s gravesite. I stand a moment and look around. Twin pale yellow stones lie flat on the snowy ground. Even from a distance I can see the name “Frost” etched into the stone. Several names are beneath that single name. The name “Robert Lee Frost” is carved at the top of the list of names on the left stone. Beneath his name are the simple details of his life: He was born in 1874 and he died on January 29, 1963. Beneath his dates is the epitaph Frost chose for himself, it reads: “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”
“A lover’s quarrel with the world.” Of all the words available to the good gray poet, Frost chose these to be set in stone above his ashes. At that very moment a small flock of pigeons explodes into flight from the church’s belfry. The popping sound of their wings fills the sky.
Robert Frost bought this plot in 1941 shortly after the death of his wife. Her ashes are buried here as well. Her name is carved just below his own. I brush back the snow, so that I can read the poet’s loving words for his wife. Carved into the stone are the words: “Together: wing to wing, and oar to oar.”
This is Alan Boye just walking the hills of Vermont.