Lesser Known Poems of Robert Frost
Underneath the Frost-ing . . .
Robert Frost has written many wonderful poems that do not get the airtime they deserve. His most beloved poems are so for a good reason, but there are many other remarkable verses. That's why I made this page, to share some of Frost's lesser known works.
The rain to the wind said,
"You push and I'll pelt."
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged -- though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.
A Time To Talk
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am "What is it?"
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
Lord, I have loved Your sky,
Be it said against or for me,
Have loved it clear and high,
Or low and stormy;
Till I have reeled and stumbled
From looking up too much,
And fallen and been humbled
To wear a crutch.
My love for every Heaven
O'er which You, Lord, have lorded,
From number One to Seven,
Should be rewarded.
It may not give me hope
That when I am translated
My scalp will in the cope
But if that seems to tend
To my undue renown,
At least it ought to send
Me up, not down.
Leaves Compared with Flowers
A tree's leaves may be ever so good,
So may its bark, so may its wood;
But unless you put the right thing to its root
It never will show much flower or fruit.
But I may be one who does not care
Ever to have tree bloom or bear.
Leaves for smooth and bark for rough,
Leaves and bark may be tree enough.
Some giant trees have bloom so small
They might as well have none at all.
Late in life I have come on fern.
Now lichens are due to have their turn.
I bade men tell me which in brief,
Which is fairer, flower or leaf.
They did not have the wit to say,
Leaves by night and flowers by day.
Leaves and bark, leaves and bark,
To lean against and hear in the dark.
Petals I may have once pursued.
Leaves are all my darker mood.
Robert Frost: A Life
there could be no better tribute for a poet so often underrated, maligned and misunderstood than this sympathetic and balanced portrayal. Frost has been depicted as selfish and vindictive in biographies by Lawrance Thompson and Jeffrey Meyers, but Parini, himself a poet and novelist, sees Frost as a man who "struggled throughout his long life with depression, anxiety, self-doubt, and confusion." Rarely has Frost's story been told this dexterously, or with a better understanding of the relation of Frost's personal crises to his accomplishment as a poet.
In A Glass of Cider
It seemed I was a mite of sediment
That waited for the bottom to ferment
So I could catch a bubble in ascent.
I rode up on one till the bubble burst,
And when that left me to sink back reversed
I was no worse off than I was at first.
I'd catch another bubble if I waited.
The thing was to get now and then elated.
Never have I been sad or glad
That there was such a thing as bad.
There had to be, I understood,
For there to have been any good.
It was by having been contrasted
The good and bad so long had lasted.
That's why discrimination reigns.
That's why we need a lot of brains
If only to discriminate
"Twixt what to love and what to hate.
To quote the oracle of Delphi,
Love thou thy neighbor as thyself, aye,
And hate him as thyself thou hatest.
There quandary is at its greatest.
We learned from the forbidden fruit
For brains there is no substitute.
"Unless it's sweetbreads," you suggest
With innuendo I detest.
You drive me to confess in ink:
Once I was fool enough to think
That brains and sweetbreads were the same,
Till I was caught and put to shame,
First by a butcher, then a cook,
Then by a scientific book.
But 'twas by making sweetbreads do
I passed with such a high I.Q.
Closed for Good
Much as I own I owe
The passers of the past
Because their to and fro
Has cut this road to last,
I owe them more today
Because they've gone away
And come not back with steed
And chariot to chide
My slowness with their speed
And scare me to one side.
They have found other scenes
For haste and other means.
They leave the road to me
To walk in saying naught
Perhaps but to a tree
Inaudibly in thought,
"From you the road receives
A priming coat of leaves.
"And soon for lack of sun,
The prospects are in white
It will be further done
But with a coat so light
The shape of leaves will show
Beneath the brush of snow."
And so on into winter
Till even I have ceased
To come as a foot printer,
And only some slight beast
So mousy or so foxy
Shall print there as my proxy.
Autumn, New England
A Patch of Old Snow
There's a patch of old snow in a corner,
That I should have guessed
Was a blow away paper the rain
Had brought to rest.
It is speckled with grime as if
Small print overspread it,
The news of a day I've forgotten --
If I ever read it.
Acquainted With the Night
I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain -- and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-by;
And further still at an unearthly height
One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
The winter owl banked just in time to pass
And save herself from breaking window glass.
And her wings straining suddenly aspread
Caught color from the last of evening red
In a display of underdown and quill
To glassed-in children at the windowsill.
IS ROBERT FROST ONE OF YOUR TOP 5 FAVORITE POETS?
I had for my winter evening walk --
No one at all with whom to talk,
But I had the cottages in a row
Up to their shining eyes in snow.
And I thought I had the folk within:
I had the sound of a violin;
I had a glimpse through curtain laces
Of youthful forms and youthful faces.
I had such company outward bound.
I went till there were no cottages found.
I turned and repented, but coming back
I saw no window but that was black.
Over the snow my creaking feet
Disturbed the slumbering village street
Like profanation, by your leave,
At ten o'clock of a winter eve.
A Taste of Frost's Humor
Our Hold On the Planet
We asked for rain. It didn't flash and roar.
It didn't lose its temper at our demand
And blow a gale. It didn't misunderstand
And give us more than our spokesman bargained for;
And just because we owned to a wish for rain,
Send us a flood and bid us be damned and drown.
It gently threw us a glittering shower down.
And when we had taken that into the roots of grain,
It threw us another and then another still,
Till the spongy soil again was natal wet.
We may doubt the just proportion of good to ill.
There is much in nature against us. But we forget;
Take nature altogether since time began,
Including human nature, in peace and war,
And it must be a little more in favor of man,
Say a fraction of one percent at the very least,
Or our number living wouldn't be steadily more,
Our hold on the planet wouldn't have so increased.
In this volume, you will find all eleven of Frost's poetry books. The NY TIMES Book Review hailed this volume with these words: [Frost's poems] are a constant symbol of his life's commitment to making metaphors that clarify the dark paradoxes they contain. (amazon reviewer: Diana)
Bond and Free
Love has earth to which she clings
With hills and circling arms about --
Wall within wall to shut fear out.
But Thought has need of no such things,
For Thought has a pair of dauntless wings.
On snow and sand and turf, I see
Where Love has left a printed trace
With straining in the world's embrace.
And such is Love and glad to be.
But Thought has shaken his ankles free.
Though cleaves the interstellar gloom
And sits in Sirius' disc all night,
Till day makes him retrace his flight,
With smell of burning on every plume,
Back past the sun to an earthly room
His gains in heaven are what they are.
Yet some say Love by being thrall
And simply staying possesses all
In several beauty that Thought fares far
To find fused in another star.
art: alexmoorhees / photobucket
We saw leaves go to glory,
Then almost migratory
Go part way down the lane,
And then to end the story
Get beaten down and pasted
In one wild day of rain.
We heard " 'Tis over" roaring.
A year of leaves was wasted.
Oh, we make a boast of storing,
Of saving and of keeping,
But only by ignoring
The waste of moments sleeping,
The waste of pleasure weeping,
By denying and ignoring
The waste of nations warring.
photo: AndySerrano / photobucket
Accidentally On Purpose
The Universe is but the Thing of things,
The things but balls all going round in rings.
Some of them mighty huge, some mighty tiny,
All of them radiant and mighty shiny.
They mean to tell us all was rolling blind
Till accidentally it hit on mind
In an albino monkey in a jungle,
And even then it had to grope and bungle,
Till Darwin came to earth upon a year
To show the evolution how to steer.
They mean to tell us, though, the Omnibus
Has no real purpose till it got to us.
Never believe it. At the very worst
It must have had the purpose from the first
To produce purpose as the fitter bred:
We were just purpose coming to a head.
Whose purpose was it? His or Hers or Its?
Let's leave that to the scientific wits.
Grant me intention, purpose, and design --
That's near enough for me to the Divine.
And yet for all this help of head and brain
How happily instinctive we remain,
Our best guide upward further to the light,
Passionate preference such as love at sight.
Dust of Snow
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
The Line Gang
Here come the line-gang pioneering by.
They throw a forest down less cut than broken.
They plant dead tress for living, and the dead
They string together with a living thread.
They string an instrument against the sky
Wherein words whether beaten out or spoken
Will run as hushed as when they were a thought.
But in no hush they string it: they go past
With shouts afar to pull the cable taut,
To hold it hard until they make it fast,
To ease away -- they have it. With a laugh,
An oath of towns that set the wild at naught,
They bring the telephone and telegraph.
The Milky Way Is A Cowpath
On wings too stiff to flap
We started to exult
In having left the map
On journey the penult.
But since we got nowhere,
Like small boys we got mad
And let go at the air
With everything we had.
We would see what would come
Of pelting heaven with chunks
Of crude uranium.
At last in self-collapse
We owned up to our wife
The Milky Way perhaps
Was woman's way of life.
Our un-outwitted spouse
Replied she had as soon
Believe it was the cow's
That overshot the moon.
The parabolic curve
Of her celestial track,
As any might observe,
Might never bring her back.
The famous foster nurse
Of man and womankind
Had for the universe
Left trivia behind;
And gone right on astray
Through let-down pasture bars
Along the Milky Way
A-foraging on stars,
Perennial as flowers
To whereas some allege
This universe of ours
Has got a razor edge;
And if she don't take care
She'll get her gullet cut,
But that is no affair
Of anybody's but --
The author of these words,
Whose lifelong unconcern
Has been with flocks and herds
For what they didn't earn.