- Books, Literature, and Writing
Robert Frost Autumn Poems
Robert Frost: Evocative Poetry for Autumn
As I read Robert Frost's "In Hardwood Groves" I find myself thinking ahead a bit to the autumn season. In Seattle, where I live, there can be a sadness that comes with the transition to fall: The sky clouds over, the rains begin, and people don't want to be outside for longer than the time it takes them to reach their destination. Near as we are to the Arctic circle, the days grow short.
There is a greater awareness of the change of seasons here than there is in some other cities. How much more aware were people, though, in the early 20th century when New England poet Robert Frost began his career! The transition into the chill months was felt more strongly when folks didn't travel in heated cars and buses to heated homes -- and couldn't while away their evenings in front of a lighted computer screen.
The poem "In Hardwood Groves" connects the fall season with the cycle of life, painting autumn changes as painful but necessary. The otherworldly "Going for Water" takes a more lighthearted look at fall, but still hints at how harsh conditions could be for those of an earlier generation.
This page contains audio and print versions of these and other Robert Frost autumn poems, as well as links to lesson plans and resources.
A Late Walk: Audio Poetry Reading
"A Late Walk" captures the imagery -- and sadness -- of the fading of the fair part of the year. The birds are described as sober, the weeds withered. An evocative chill walk in late autumn ends with the speaker picking 'the last remaining aster flower' to carry again to...ah, to who? The poem doesn't say. Still, I get the sense it is a loved one, and that it might be an autumn romance in more ways than one.
Here is my audio reading of Robert Frost's "A Late Walk" -- hosted on Audioboo. (Click the 'listen' button under the photo.)
'Going for Water': Audio Reading
Robert Frost's "Going for Water" gives a sense of what autumn meant to those in an earlier era. The well was dry, so off went the narrator and his companion to "seek the brook if it still ran" -- in other words, to fetch water if the brook hadn't frozen over yet. This is serious business when one can't just turn on a tap! There is a playful tone, though, in this portrait of two people who see their quest for water as an excursion more so than a chore. In this way, the mood contrasts with that of "A Late Walk".
Here is an audio read of "Going for Water".
Going for Water: Musical Interpretation
Here is an enchanting musical interpretation of "Going For Water". The bit of crescendo as the speaker and his friend hear the brook... very fitting, I think, as it captures the excitement in the realization that the brook was indeed still flowing.
Note: The composer here has set quite a few other Robert Frost poems to music.
Robert Frost: New England in Autumn
Here are Robert Frost autumn poems delivered in their natural setting: the New England countryside. You can hear "After Apple Picking", "The Road Not Taken", and more. You get close to half an hour of poetry and visual displays.
In Hardwood Grove: Audio Reading
This Robert Frost autumn classic discusses the cycle of leaves and hints at the cycle of life we are all a part of. It ends on the poignant lines, "However it is in some other world, I know that this is the way in ours". We get a sense of the dancing young flowers' lack of thought to the leaves that lived before them. Might this parallel human behavior?
Printable Copies of Robert Frost Autumn Poems
These were done on Adobe Acrobat. I don't think everyone can assess them from their computer. I'll plan on putting a Google Doc version up in the future.
After Apple Picking
Here is another Robert Frost autumn classic performed on YouTube:
"After Apple Picking" captures post-harvest emotion: the mixture of thoughts a man experiences when he has just finished a "fruitful" but exhausting harvest season. He feels ready for sleep, perhaps even hibernation, but apples still permeate his thoughts.
I think many of us have experienced that feeling: It's hard to believe the job is really done and a time of rest is upon us.
"After Apple Picking" is one of six Robert Frost poems included in the Poetry Out Loud anthology. It is among the options for high school poetry recitation competitors.
"October" is a supplication to the month itself. It reminds us of the practical as well as emotional reasons we might want that autumn chill to make a slow entrance. In the early part of the poem, the reasons are abstract: We get a sense of a person who feels a sense of sorrow at the shortening of the days and the loss of the lush foliage. At the end, the speaker narrows his focus. He makes a plea for a particular group of grapes that will be lost if autumn falls too quickly. This is a man who is well aware of the effect weather has on the harvest season, and also seems to feel for the plants themselves.
The video below is a different take on the audio concept. Here we find a kaleidoscope of words and images set to music.
My November Guest
Is there beauty, too, in the late autumn when the world is bare but not yet snow-capped?
The imagery of "My November Guest" is that of the literal month, November: a time of year that some see as the bleakest of all. Readers may also find in the poem a symbolic meaning and a message about depression. The November guest might be a melancholy feeling, but one that is not without awareness of the beauty that exists even in a season of decay.
Reflecting on 'My November Guest'
- A Healing Library
This is as much synthesis as analysis: The author makes connections with spiritual teaching and also with writings about mental illness. The gray season is captured in both a literal and figurative way.
- Writing and Ruminating
This blogger suggests that the companion in "My November Guest" is probably a part of Frost's own nature.
A personal reflection: The writer compares the imagery outside and the mood at hand with Frost's.
Additional Resources for Teaching Robert Frost Autumn Poems
- Writing Assignment for Road Not Taken
Expressive writing assignment / internet extension for "The Road Not Taken", from English Teachers Network.
- An interpretation of My November Guest
Poems can be interpreted in such different ways. What's your take on "My November Guest"?
- Analysis of After Apple Picking
An easy to read little study guide from Shmoop.
- Robert Frost Poetry
The Last Word of a Bluebird
As Told to a Child
Time for the birds to bid adieu and fly off to their winter lodgings! "The Last Word of a Bluebird" has a playful tone and a bit of a sing song quality. It was written for a child. How would you describe the rhyme scheme?
As I went out a Crow
In a low voice said, "Oh,
I was looking for you.
How do you do?
I just came to tell you
To tell Lesley (will you?)
That her little Bluebird
Wanted me to bring word
That the north wind last night
That made the stars bright
And made ice on the trough
Almost made him cough
His tail feathers off.
He just had to fly!
But he sent her Good-by,
And said to be good,
And look for skunk tracks
In the snow with an ax-
And do everything!
And perhaps in the spring
He would come back and sing.
- The Last Word of a Bluebird
Printable copy of Frost's The Last Word of a Bluebird (as told to a child).