Unless it’s the Superbowl, I usually don’t pay attention to ads when I watch live tv. So watching the X-Games last Sunday, I was tuning out during the ad breaks when a familiar, sonorous voice broke through my inattention — “The woods are lovely dark and deep…”
Looking up, I saw a Jeep plowing through a snowy woods and and heard Robert Frost intoning “and miles to go before I sleep.”
I paused the TV.
“Come quick!” I shouted to my husband. “You are not going to believe this. They are using Robert Frost to shill Jeeps!” (If you haven’t seen the ad, go ahead and watch it now. I’ll wait… Done? Ok.)
I was flabbergasted. Floored. Furious. I had an instant “It’s the end of the world.” “Robert Frost spinning in his grave.” #i_don’t_want_to_live_on_this_planet_anymore reaction.
Since then I’ve had a bit of a change of heart, and I’ll tell you why. You see, because of this ad there are thousands of people who have never heard of Robert Frost or read one of his poems that are being exposed to the beauty of his words. Really. I can prove it.
Using Google Trends, you can see that searches for Robert Frost and “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” have not spiked significantly in January (meaning that people who see the ad and identify the Robert Frost poem are not looking it up) but if you look at the google trends for phrases that are quoted from the poem such as “woods are lovely” and “miles to go before I sleep” you will see a big spike in January that coincides with the first airing of the ad:
So there are thousands of people who are reading Robert Frost’s “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” for the first time.
Maybe some of them will then read a couple of Frost’s other poems.
And perhaps a few of them will discover a love of poetry.
And that can’t be a bad thing, can it?
Or maybe we should go with my first gut reaction and arm ourselves with pitchforks and storm the Henry Holt offices in protest.
What do you think, fellow poetry lovers?
For your weekly poetry fix, head on over to Poetry Friday hosted this week by Karissa at The Iris Chronicles.