- "I have come by the highway
- And lo, it is ended."
- People often ask: Why is Robert
Frost buried in Bennington?
In 1920, Frost came to live in Shaftsbury, Vt., the next town
north of Bennington on Historic Rte 7A. He said, I mean
to plant a new Garden of Eden with a thousand apple trees of
some unforbidden variety.
- Frost lived with his family in
Shaftsbury during the height of his career as a poet until 1938,
when his wife Elinor suddenly died. Mrs. Frost had always wanted
her ashes scattered at their old farm in Derry, New Hampshire.
After her death, Frost traveled to the farm he had sold 25 years
before, when he had written a little poem called On the Sale
of My Farm, which ends as follows
- It shall be no trespassing
If I come again some spring
- In the grey disguise of years,
- Seeking ache of memory here.
- But when Frost returned to Derry
to make arrangements, he found the place was run down and the
owner unwelcoming. Discouraged, he returned home telling his
children it would be a sacrilege to leave her ashes there. His
poem Directive speaks of
- "..a house that is
no more a house
- Upon a farm that is no
more a farm"
- ''..the children's house
of make believe
- Some shattered dishes underneath
- Weep for what little things
could make them glad.."
- The urn was placed on a closet
shelf at the
- stone house in Shaftsbury. If things
had gone differently in Derry, Frost surely would have been buried
somewhere else. Frost took two years to think about where to
establish a family burial place.
- In the summer of 1940, Frost purchased
two cemetery plots in the Old Bennington Cemetery behind the
Old First Congregational Church. This cemetery goes back to the
American Revolution, and all the space was taken until the 1930s
when Route 9 was reconstructed to run along the north side of
the cemetery (its present location.) The old road bed was removed
and the space on the south side became an extension of the cemetery.
The difference between the old and new sections can be seen when
you visit the churchyard.
Frost may have chosen this lovely setting for several reasons.
He always liked a place with a mountain view. That is well evidenced
by his home in Franconia, New Hampshire and all three of his
farms in Vermont. The presence of the Revolutionary soldiers
buried nearby would have pleased him. As he wrote in his poem
The Gift Outright: The land was ours before we were
the lands. Frost called that poem, a history
book in a poem. And lastly, he chose to be buried behind
a beautiful old New England church.
Many have said Frost was an atheist and scholars still argue
about his religious beliefs. His poetry often alludes to the
Bible, which he had read all his life, yet Frost retained the
skepticism of his age. Frost once said, I dont belong
enough to any church, but historically I should be a Congregationalist.
My people were all Congregationalists. He said, I
dont go to church, but I look in the window, and
he called himself, an Old Testament Christian. Now
what does that mean? It does say something about one's beliefs
to be buried behind a church, although we note the gravestone
faces in the opposite direction. He was a man famous for contradictions.
Frosts gravestone of Barre granite with hand carved laurel
leaves is inscribed, I had a lovers quarrel with
- The church and grave site are located
in the historic district in Old Bennington. The neighborhood
dates back to the American Revolution and is graced with lovely
old white houses built in the late 18th century. The neighborhood
has not changed since the Frost era. Nearby is the Bennington
Battle Monument and the Bennington Museum. The
Old First Church was designated as "Vermont's Colonial
Shrine" in 1937. Frost had attended the rededication ceremonies
and read a poem. Today, the church welcomes visitors from July