Robert Frost enthusiasts have reason to celebrate this week, as it was announced that a collection of rare Frost material was donated to the State University of New York at Buffalo. The donor Jonathan Reichert is a professor emeritus at the university and his father was close friends with Frost.
Even though Frost was sixty years older than Reichert, he still formed a friendship with the young man and engaged Reichert in earnest conversations.
"He was always wrestling with big ideas…and what was interesting is later on you discovered that that talk appeared in poems," Reichert said. "Conversations in our schoolhouse in Vermont, long evenings of conversation…and then later, a new poem would be published, and there would be lines you'd swear you'd heard before."
The collection is comprised of letters, books, audio, and photographs and "chronicles a 24-year friendship between the beloved American poet and Victor Reichert, a Cincinatti rabbi who summered with Frost in Vermont." The items interest scholars because they provide some information about Frost's religious beliefs, which has been the subject of debate for years.
Jonathan Reichert says that Frost characterized himself as an "Old Testament Christian." Reichert interprets this to mean that Frost "saw that the laws that Judaism had built up really were not the essence, and that Jesus was a great prophet, rather than seeing Jesus as the son of God, or the savior."
Michael Basinski, curator of The Poetry Collection of the University Libraries at the Univeristy of Buffalo, said that understanding Frost's religious views is of importance because his poetry and thoughts offer a window to America's consciousness at the time.
SUNY Buffalo will have the Victor E. Reichert Robert Frost Collection on display on the fifth floor of Capen Hall on the North Campus from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, from Jan. 31 until March 29.