So, it’s late last night, and I’m still puzzling over this Frost poem (posted below). I mean this thing is nagging at me. In a low-level way. I’m not a maniac (mostly). But the Tommy Lee Jones movie I’m watching has just ended, and I'm wondering about “The Lockless Door.” I have the one-volume abridgment of the Lawrence Thompson biography, so I pull it down and this is what I find on pages 93-94: Frost was afraid of the dark!
In the summer of 1895, he followed Elinor White and her sister to Ossipee Mountain in New Hampshire. He rented what amounted to a shack (with a lockless door!) in order to be near her. In the event, he was alone much of the time. His fear of the dark—with him from childhood—was so great, that he slept that summer with his pants on just in case.
Then one night there was a knock at the door, and Frost freaked out. He climbed out the window and called “Come In” back over the sill, just like in the poem. When the door started to open, he ran for it, spending the night hiding out in the woods basically. Sometime after dawn, he crept back to the house to find his neighbor passed out on the kitchen floor "as though dead": he had stopped on his way home, to sleep off a bender. The experience, Thompson says, haunted Frost's dreams for years. The poem, he suggests, was “perhaps motivated in part by the hope that he might rid himself of the whole thing.”
Here’s proof that biography only gets you so far: I know now what motivated the poem and some of the actual events referred to, but I still can’t say what the tenor (subject) of the poem really is. And on some level I don’t really need to know for sure. There’s something of the allegory or fable to the thing, an indeterminacy that allows it to resonate deep in the psyche. The brilliant bastard!