Log In

Robert Francis Edit Profile


Robert Francis, American Author. Fellow Academy American Poets; honorary member Phi Beta Kappa.


Francis, Robert was born on August 12, 1901 in Upland, Pennsylvania, United States. Son of Ebenezer Fisher and Ida May (Allen) Francis.


Bachelor of Arts, Harvard University, 1923; Master of Education, Harvard University, 1926; Doctor of Humane Letters, University Massachusetts, 1970.


He would later attend the Graduate School of Education at Harvard where he once said that he felt that he'd come home. He lived in a small house he built himself in 1940, which he called Fort Juniper, near Cushman Village in Amherst, Massachusetts. One of his poetic mentors was Robert Frost, and indeed Francis's first volume of poems, Stand Here With Me (1936), displays a poetic voice eerily reminiscent of Frost's own in carefully crafted nature poems.

Frost once said: "poetry is the only acceptable way to say one thing and mean another." Francis published very little during the 1940s–1950s. He decided that "for better or worse, I was a poet and there was really nothing else for me to do but go on being a poet. It was too late to change even if I had wanted to. was my most central, intense and inwardly rewarding experience." In 1960, Francis published The Orb Weaver, which revived his reputation as a poet.

Francis uses hidden meanings in his poems, which suggest another way that Frost made an impression on Francis's poetry. In later volumes, Francis found a voice distinctively his own, relaxed in meter and characterized by puns, word-plays, slant rhymes, and repetitions of key words. Aside from one long narrative poem in Frostian blank verse, Francis's poetry consists largely of concise lyrics, somewhat limited in thematic range but intensely crafted and deeply personal.

Frost would later say that Robert Francis was America's best neglected poet. He often wrote about nature and baseball. His autobiography, The Trouble with Francis, was published in 1971 and details his struggle with neglect.

Francis died July 13, 1987.


  • Francis won the Shelley Memorial Award in 1939. In 1984 the Academy of American Poets gave Francis its award for distinguished poetic achievement.



Fellow Academy American Poets. Honorary member Phi Beta Kappa.


Ebenezer Fisher Francis

Ida May (Allen) Francis