by Betsy and Tom Melvin
- Gift books have a long, honored
history in middle class America. In the 20th Century they have
evolved into a publishing category known as coffee table publications.
Professional photographers Betsy and Tom Melvin present in their
tome 40 beautiful photographs of year-round New England landscapes
that would adorn any current living room coffee table. Each full-page
photograph is associated with a Frost quotation, from complete
poems to two line snippets. A visual delight, this book could
serve as an introduction to those not acquainted with Robert
Frost's poetry. It would have been useful if the Melvins had
included one or two references for further reading , such as
the Library of America edition of Frost's collected poems, prose,
and plays, selected and edited by Richard Poirier and Mark Richardson,
published by Penguin Books in 1995.
The Notes on Photographs section at the end of the book helped
to personalize the photographs, giving the location where each
was taken and interesting comments by the photographers.
Jay Parini's foreword described Frost as "deeply Emersonian,"
which is generally accepted but for much more than just the natural
scenes of these landscape photographs. Frost stressed he was
not a pastoral, landscape, or even a regional poet, saying many
times that his poems had people in nearly all of them and described
universal themes. Like Emerson, though, Frost could be mischievous,
misleading, ambiguous, and often non-committal in his poetry.
In his recent book, "Our Preposterous Use of Literature:
Emerson and the Nature of Reading," published by University
of Illinois Press, 2000, T. S. McMillin describes the ways in
which Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays have been improperly manipulated
over the years, obliterating their original intent. "The
Road Not Taken" is a poem about much more than a photograph
- a bifurcating dirt road.
- by Walter Auclair
- December 4, 2000