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Robert Frost's "God's Garden"

Updated on September 22, 2017
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Rober Frost U. S. Stamp

Source

Reading of Frost's "God's Garden"

Commentary

Robert Frost employs an extended allusion to the Garden of Eden myth from the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Written circa 1890, this early Frost poem, "God's Garden," offers an interpretive dramatization of the Genesis narrative from the Old Testament of the Holy Bible. The Genesis creation myth is highly symbolic. This speaker appears to be offering guidance in spirituality to erring humankind.

First Stanza: "God made a beatous garden"

The speaker commences, "God made a beauteous garden / With lovely flowers strewn," an image comporting with what readers have come to expect of the depiction of the original garden. The speaker then offers an original thought stating that God put in the garden "one straight, narrow pathway" which is without the beauteous decoration of flower or tree.

After God creates the beauteous garden with lovely flowers and the one straight, clear pathway, God adds the further creation of humankind— "mankind to live"—directing humankind to care for the "vines and fig trees" and to watch over the flowers.

However, the human beings were also directed to "keep the pathway open / Your home is at the end." Instead of commanding humans not to eat the forbidden fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden as is in the original Genesis story, in Frost's version, God only instructs them to "keep the pathway open." It is the same command, just phrased differently.

Second Stanza: "Then came another master"

The speaker then makes the claim that an additional "master" who "did not love mankind" then came to the garden and "planted on the pathway / Gold flowers for them to find." This evil one wanted to distract the human beings from the original instruction to keep open the pathway; thus he planted distracting, alluring "gold" flowers.

Thus humankind began scampering down the wrong path searching for the empty, deceptive "gold" flowers, instead of obediently tending the luscious fruit trees and beautiful flowers they were originally instructed to tend. The "gold flowers" "hid the thorns of av'rice / That poison blood and bone" and would prove to be their downfall.

By failing to follow God's original command, humankind became embroiled in material experiences that caused their souls to suffer helplessness and loneliness, as they suffer the loss of soul knowledge.

The speaker describes that state of loss as "when life's night came on." The humans continued to indulge in sense pleasures, failing to work to keep their soul connected to its Creator. They thus lost the most valuable commodity of spirituality.

Third Stanza: "O, cease to heed the glamour"

The last stanza finds the speaker exhorting his listeners to abandon the fake "glamour / That blinds your foolish eyes." The speaker hopes to show others that by accepting the fool's gold of fake flowers, they fail to raise their eyes to the heavens to observe, "the stars of God's clear skies."

The metaphorical stars in "God's clear skies" reflect the original command of God to stay on the narrow road of right living. Avoiding the glittering deception of "gold flowers" which offer only vacuous sense experience allows the human being the time and space to walk the open pathway that leads to the soul's true home in heaven.

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

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