Friday, January 4, 2019

In the Public Domain

Manuscript of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"The start of 2019 is pretty important for free and open access to information. We have been in a weird holding pattern for the last 20 years waiting for works to enter the public domain. The Copyright Term Extension Act (aka the Sonny Bono Act) was passed in 1998. It extended copyright status from 75 years to 95 years for most works, so for the last 20 years not much has been entering the public domain. But, starting this year, you can celebrate every New Year's Day with a fresh crop of out-of-copyright material. This year, everything published in 1923 opened up, and that includes some of Robert Frost's most well know poems which were published in his 1923 book, New Hampshire.

To celebrate, we present you here with the earliest known complete draft of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." It was tacked onto the end of a letter Frost sent to fellow poet Jack Haines on January 28th, 1923. The poem was published later that year, first in The New Republic, then collected in New Hampshire.

Last sentence of letter to Haines, "I shall be sending you some poetry in MS again before long. I believe I'll copy a bit here and now." signed by Robert Frost
You do whatever you want with the text now, but you can only see the original by asking for MS-1178, Box 5, Folder 22.