On this day in 1923, Robert Frost’s most famous poem, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening,” was published in the New Republic. He was living in South Shaftsbury, Vermont, at the time, tired of the academic life and wanting to reconnect to the land and his farm. In mid-summer the previous year, he had spent the night working on another poem, “New Hampshire.” In the morning, he went outside for awhile, came back in, and wrote the poem quickly, as if he had had a hallucination.
The only problem was that he didn’t know how to end it. Finally, he decided to repeat the last line: “And miles to go before I sleep,” giving “Stopping By Woods” its eerie, haunting quality. He later said that the poem contained all he ever knew.
The collection including the poem was published the next year, and generally received respectful reviews, but when the Freeman panned it, Frost thought somebody was out to get him. “It just shows how hard it is for an American publication, however lofty its pretensions, to keep from lending itself to blackmail and corruption.” That year, Frost received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, the first of four he would receive in his lifetime.
On this day in 1994, the Supreme Court ruled that a parody of a commercial recording can qualify as fair use. The rap group 2 Live Crew, composed “Pretty Woman,” based on Roy Orbison’s song, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” and wanted to use a sample of the song’s distinctive bass riff. The group had sought a license for the tune from the publisher, Acuff-Rose Music, but were denied. They went ahead with the recording, and after a year and a quarter-million sales, the record company sued. The court ruled that appropriating part of the song was fair use, and 2 Live Crew was allowed to license the song for its parody. The case, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., extended the commercial use of copyrighted material for the purpose of parody.
QUOTE FOR THE DAY
Today’s quote is from the poem, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
BIRTHS AND DEATHS
Born: Alesandro Manzoni, novelist, poet, Milan, 1785; William Tindall, essayist, critic, Williamstown, Vt., 1903; Rolf Jacobsen, poet, Oslo, Norway, 1907; Kobo Abe (ps. Abe Kimifusa), novelist, poet, playwright, Tokyo, 1924; William Boyd, novelist, Accra, Ghana, 1952; Rick Bass, novelist, short story writer, nature writer, Fort Worth, Texas, 1958; Bret Easton Ellis, novelist, Los Angeles, 1964.
Died: Antonio Fogazzaro, novelist, poet, playwright, Vicenza, Rep. Of Venice, 1911; Percy Wyndham Lewis, artist, author, essayist, London, 1957; Alice B. Toklas, memoirist, Paris, 1967; Florence Margaret Smith (aka Stevie Smith), poet, novelist, Hull, Yorkshire, 1971.