Poetry News

The Christmas Cards of Robert Frost

By Harriet Staff

See this article from The Academy of American Poets, which details Robert Frost's letterpressed Christmas cards:

"I can't help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas."

So ends the first of Robert Frost's Christmas "cards," chapbooks printed annually by Spiral Press from 1929 to 1962. Each year, Frost would select a poem, often writing an original piece for the occasion, and send it to his friends and loved ones—and his publisher's friends and loved ones. Now collectors' items, these annual cards started out simply as a way for Frost to honor the winter season with a poem.
As reported in the New York Times, Joseph Blumenthal, who headed Spiral Press from 1926 to 1971, had been working on a separate edition of Frost's poetry in 1929 when, without the poet's knowledge, he printed 250 copies—for his wife and a small group of colleagues—of a letterpress chapbook of Frost's early poem "Christmas Trees." When the poet saw the publication, his first response was to contact Blumenthal, requesting a few copies to send out to his own family members: "my sympathies have been enlisted on the side of small presses and hand setting. My heart will be with you in your work." The annual tradition was born.

The cards are also on display at Poets House.

Originally Published: December 19th, 2011