“AS I CAME TO THE EDGE OF THE WOODS/ THRUSH MUSIC! HARK!/ NOW IF IT WAS DUSK OUTSIDE/ INSIDE IT WAS DARK”: AUTOGRAPH MANUSCRIPT COPY OF FROST’S 20-LINE POEM “COME IN,” SIGNED BY FROST, FRAMED WITH GELATIN SILVER PRINT OF FROST, SIGNED BY PHOTOGRAPHER LOTTE JACOBI
FROST, Robert. Manuscript poem signed [fair copy]. FRAMED WITH: JACOBI, Lotte. Signed photographic portrait of Robert Frost. No place: no publisher, circa 1945. Quarto (8-1/2 by 11 inches), one sheet of watermarked wove typing paper, handwritten on recto. Matted and framed with Lotte Jacobi’s photographic portrait of Frost, gelatin silver print (measures 8 by 10 inches), signed on print recto. Entire piece measures 22-1/2 by 15-1/2 inches.
Autograph manuscript fair copy of Frost’s renowned poem “Come In,” penned in blue ink entirely by Frost, signed by him and inscribed at the foot, “To James Murphy.” Framed with a scarce gelatin silver print portrait of the poet, photographed by Jacobi in 1959 at his Vermont farm, this print signed by Lotte Jacobi in her trademark pencil on the lower corner of the image.
Though they never met, Frost and the recipient of this handwritten poem, aspiring poet and avid collector James P.J. Murphy, corresponded for nearly a quarter of a century. “Murphy was a shy man with a passion for literature and fine printing. He found both in Frost’s books. The poet autographed Murphy’s copies of his works—often after considerable delay—and sent him his special Christmas cards” (Burch, ANQ, 13:2, 35-40). Frost has written out in blue ink the full text of his poem “Come In”:
“As I came to the edge of the woods,
Now if it was dusk outside,
Inside it was dark.
“Too dark in the woods for a bird
By sleight of wing
To better his perch for the night,
Though he still could sing.
“The last of the light of the sun
That had died in the west
Still lived for one song more
In a thrush’s breast.
“Far in the pillared dark
Thrush music went—
Almost like a call to come in
To the dark and lament.
“But no, I was out for stars;
I would not come in.
I meant not even if asked;
And I hadn’t been.”
Beneath the poem Frost has signed his name and then written, “To James Murphy.” “Come In” first appeared in book form in A Witness Tree in 1942, and was clearly esteemed enough by Frost to serve as the title poem to a larger collection of Frost’s poems (Come In, and Other Poems) that was printed in a special Armed Services Edition for U.S. soldiers in 1943.
In 1959 Lotte Jacobi was commissioned to photograph Frost. On arriving at his home in Ripton, Vermont, Jacobi was told by Frost’s secretary that “she would be limited to only 15 minutes to take the portrait.” While her daughter-in-law talked with the poet, “Jacobi photographed and looked at her watch… At the end of the 15 minutes Lotte said, ‘Thank you very much, Mr. Frost. Fifteen minutes is up.’ Frost was confused by this comment and Lotte explained… He said, ‘Nonsense! Let’s go to my studio and have a ginger beer” (Moriarty, 70). “When I was asked to photograph Robert Frost, up in Vermont at his house, the first thing he told me was ‘Don’t make me look jovial. Everyone thinks I’m a jovial old man, but I’m actually rather crotchety.” So, Jacobi noted, “I took a more serious picture of him” (Schuyler, Lotte Jacobi, 210). This scarce silver gelatin print was printed circa 1970, and comes from the Lotte Jacobi estate.
Manuscript with a few faint creases along edges. Print fine; scarce signed. Fine condition.