Robert Frost, “At Present in Vermont”

April 2nd – November 7th

Frost’s life and work as a poet and farmer in Bennington County, 1920 – 1938

A New Home Base

Just over 100 years ago Robert Frost arrived in Bennington County, where he lived in South Shaftsbury from 1920 to 1938. This exhibition celebrates and explores the local legacy of America’s most beloved poet.

From this new home base, Frost travelled often for readings and academic appointments across the country. Vermont became a “strategic retreat” where he could write, and connect with nature, family, and a circle of friends that included many other talented artists and writers.

A Literary Legacy

Frost wrote many of his most famous poems and won three of his unprecedented four Pulitzer prizes while living in South Shaftsbury. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” which he called “my best bid for remembrance,” and “New Hampshire,” in which he lays out his personal theory of poetry and his deep affection for New England, were composed in the same all-night writing session in June of 1922. “New Hampshire” ends with the ironic line, “At present I am living in Vermont,” which has been adapted for this exhibition’s title. Frost’s poems still resonate today as accessible expressions of a quintessential Yankee spirit. In plain, precise, yet musical language, frequently laced with dry wit, they combine keen observation of the natural world with deep, and sometimes dark, reckonings on the human condition.

Apple Trees, Stone Fences, and Friends

Frost was inspired by the local landscape—the apple trees he planted, the stone walls he admired, and the fields, forests, lakes, and streams surrounding his Shaftsbury farms. The region’s cultural and human networks proved no less stimulating. His circle of friends and colleagues included writers Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Sarah Cleghorn, Genevieve Taggard, Zephine Humphrey, and Margaret and Walter Hard, Sr.; publisher and businessman Vrest Orton; visual artists Charles Burchfield, Rockwell Kent, J.J. Lankes, Luigi Lucioni, and Clara Sipprell; and local mail clerk and beekeeper Charles Monroe.

While you too are “present” in southern Vermont, we invite you explore Robert Frost’s relationship with the landscapes and people of our region.