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Robert Frost's "A Girl's Garden"
Frost's "A Girl's Garden"
A neighbor of mine in the village
Likes to tell how one spring
When she was a girl on the farm, she did
A childlike thing.
One day she asked her father
To give her a garden plots
To plant and tend and reap herself,
And he said, "Why not?"
In casting about for a corner
He thought of an idle bit
Of walled-off ground where a shop had stood,
And he said, "Just it."
And he said, "That ought to make you
An ideal one-girl farm,
And give you a chance to put some strength
On your slim-jim arm."
It was not enough of a garden
Her father said, to plow;
So she had to work it all by hand,
But she don't mind now.
She wheeled the dung in a wheelbarrow
Along a stretch of road;
But she always ran away and left
Her not-nice load,
And hid from anyone passing.
And then she begged the seed.
She says she thinks she planted one
Of all things but weed.
A hill each of potatoes,
Radishes, lettuce, peas,
Tomatoes, beets, beans, pumpkins, corn,
And even fruit trees.
And yes, she has long mistrusted
That a cider-apple
In bearing there today is hers,
Or at least may be.
Her crop was a miscellany
When all was said and done,
A little bit of everything,
A great deal of none.
Now when she sees in the village
How village things go,
Just when it seems to come in right,
She says, "I know!
"It's as when I was a farmer..."
Oh never by way of advice!
And she never sins by telling the tale
To the same person twice.
The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems, Complete and Unabridged
The collection includes "A Girl's Garden."
Robert Frost's narrative poem portrays the speaker's neighbor, who likes to tell a little tale to villagers about growing and maintaining a garden whilst she was still just a girl.
This delightful narrative reveals Robert Frost at his best as he has his speaker recount an old woman's experience with a youthful endeavor in gardening on her family farm.
The poem features 12 quatrains, each with the rime scheme, ABCB.
Quatrains 1-3: "A neighbor of mine in the village"
Robert Frost's speaker in "A Girl's Garden" is relating a conversation he once had with "a neighbor of mine in the village." According to the speaker, the woman is quite fond of recounting an experience from her childhood about "a childlike thing" she did when she lived on a farm.
One spring, the woman when still a child asks her father if she could have a few acres of land to plant and nurture her own garden, a suggestion to which the father readily agrees. The father goes over the farm and eventually decides on a certain plot of land he deems appropriate for his young offspring's endeavor. The plot of land is "walled-off" and at one time "a shop had stood" there.
Quatrains 4-6: "And he said, "That ought to make you"
The father tells his daughter that the plot he has chosen for her farming endeavor should be just right for her; that piece of land should "make [her] / An ideal one-girl farm." The father further adds that by working that plot she could strengthen her arms. The father is also determined that the plot was too small to plough; thus, she had to dig it up and get the dirty ready by hand.
But she was very enthusiastic about the task and did not mind all that work. The woman recounts that she transported the fertilizer in a wheelbarrow along the road to her plot of land, but the smell of the "dung" always made her run away.
Quatrains 7-9: "And hid from anyone passing"
The woman recounts that she would hide so no one would anyone see her fleeing from the smell of dung. Then she continues her tale, informing her listener that she acquired some seeds to plant, and she "thinks she planted one / Of all things" except weeds. She plants "potatoes, radishes, lettuce, peas / Tomatoes, beets, beans, pumpkins, corn, / And even fruit trees."
And even though she planted only one of each, that is still a lot for such a small plot of land. She reports that today there is a "cider apple tree" growing in the plot that she suspects might be from her planting experience.
Quatrains 10-12: "Her crop was a miscellany"
The woman freely admits that she did reap many different crops but not much of each. Now, when the woman observes the successful gardens grown on small plots in the village, she recounts how she once grew a fine garden on a small plot of land.
The speaker of this narration is delighted and probably astounded that the woman never repeats her story to "the same person twice," as most nostalgic seniors are wont to do.
Reading of Frost's "A Girl's Garden"
© 2015 Linda Sue Grimes