Thursday, 15 September 2016

Robert Frost – The Poetry of Robert Frost 1969

 “I left you in the morning,
And in the morning glow
You walked a way beside me
To make me sad to go.” (Frost ‘The Flower-Gathering’, 1969, p.12)

“The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make.” (Frost ‘Mowing’, 1969, p.17)

“Part of a moon was falling down the west,
Dragging the whole sky with it to the hills.
Its light poured softly in her lap.” (Frost ‘The Death of the hired man’, 1969, p.38).

“The mountain stood there to be pointed at.” (Frost ‘The Mountain’, 1969, p.41).

“”Warm in December, cold in June, you say?”

“I don’t suppose the water’s changed at all.
You and I know enough to know it’s warm
Compared with cold and cold comparedwith warm.
But all the fun’s in how you say a thing.”

“You’ve lived here all you life?”

                                                   “Ever since Hor
Was no bigger than a -----“ What, I did not hear.”” (Frost ‘The Mountain’, 1969, p.44).

“For, dear me, why abandon a belief
Merely because it ceases to be true.
Cling to it long enough, and not a doubt
It will turn true again, for so it goes.
Most of the change we think we see in life
Is due to truths being in and out of favour.
As I sit here, and oftentimes, I wish
I could be monarch of a desert land
I could devote and dedicate forever
To the truths we keep coming back and back to.
So desert it would have to be, so walled
By mountain ranges half in summer snow,
No one would covet it or think it worth
The pains of conquering to force change on.” (Frost ‘The Black Cottage’, 1969, p.58).

“It’s rest I want – there, I have said it out –
From cooking meals for hungry hired men
And washing dishes after them – from doing
Things over and over that just won’t stay done.” (Frost ‘A Servant to Servants, 1969, p.64).

“… You’ve found out something.
The hand that knows his business won’t be told
To do work better or faster – those two things.” (Frost ‘The Black Cottage’, 1969, p.70).

“Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day,
I paused and said, “I will turn back from here.
No, I will go on farther – and we shall see.”
The hard snow held me, save where now and then
One foot went through. The view was all in lines
Straight up and down of tall slim trees
Too much alike to mark or name a place by
So as to say for certain I was here
Or somewhere else; I was just far from home.” (Frost ‘The wood-pile’, 1969, p.101).

“Oh, let’s go up the hill and scare ourselves” (Frost ‘The Bonfire’, 1969, p.129).

“I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?” (Frost ‘The sound of trees’, 1969, p.156).

“… Do you know,
Considering the market, there are more
Poems produced than any other thing?
No wonder poets sometimes have to seem
So much more businesslike than businessmen.
Their wares are so much harder to get rid of.” (Frost ‘New Hampshire’, 1969, p.164).

“I don’t know what to say about the people.
For art’s sake one could almost wish them worse
Rather than better. How are we to write
The Russian novel in America
As long as life goes so unterribly?” (Frost ‘New Hampshire’, 1969, p.167).

“”You know Orion always comes up sideways
Throwing a leg over our fence of mountains,
And risiong on his hands, he looks in on me
Busy outdoors by lantern-light with something
I should have done by daylight, and indeed,
After the ground is frozen, I should have done
Before it froze.” (Frost ‘The star-splitter, 1969, p.176).

“I wondered who it was the man thought ground –
The one who held the wheel back or the one
Who gave his life to keep it going round?
I wondered if he really thought it fair
For him to have the say when we were done.
Such were the bitter thoughts to which I turned.” (Frost ‘The grindstpone’, 1969, p.190).

“What tree may not the fig be gathered from?
The grape may not be gathered from the birch?
It’s all you know the grape, or know the birch.” (Frost ‘Wild Grapes’, 1969, p.196).

“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.


The wood are lovely , dark and deep
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.” (Frost ‘Stopping by woods on a snowy evening’, 1969, p.224).

“I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard’s arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod
But something has to be left to God.” (Frost ‘Good-By and keep cold’, 1969, p.228).

“Love and forgetting might have carried them
A little further up the mountainside
With night so near, but not much further up.” (Frost ‘Two look at two’, 1969, p.229).

“To think to know the country and not know
The hillside on the day the sun lets go
Ten million silver lizards out of snow.
As often as I’ve seen it done before
I can’t pretend to tell the way it’s done.
It looks as if some magic of the sun
Lifted the rug that bred them on the floor
And the light breaking on them made them run.” (Frost ‘A Hillside Thaw’, 1969, p.237).

“The tree the tempest with a crash of wood
Throws down in front of us is not to bar
Our passage to our journey’s end for good
But just to ask us who we think we are.” (Frost ‘On a tree fallen across the road’, 1969, p.238).

“The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore on the ocean –
Holding the curve of one position
Counting an endless repetition.” (Frost ‘Devotion’, 1969, p.247).

“Heaven gives its glimpses only to those
Not in position to look close.” (Frost ‘A passing glimpse’, 1969, p.248).

“”…. Safe!
Now let the night be dark for all of me.
Let the night be too dark for me to see
Into the future. Let what will be, be.”” (Frost ‘Acceptance’, 1969, p.229).

“Something sinister in tone
Told me my secret must be known:
Word I was in the house alone
Somehow must have gotten abroad,
Word I was in my life alone,
Word I had no one left but God.” (Frost ‘Bereft’, 1969, p.251).

“not to sink under being man and wife,
But get some color and music out of life.” (Frost ‘The investment’, 1969, p.264).

“When I spread out my hand here today,
I catch no more than a ray
To feel between thumb and fingers;
No lasting effect of it lingers.” (Frost ‘Sitting by a bush in broad sunlight’, 1969, p.266).

“For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other stuff off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns –
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.” (Frost ‘The armful’, 1969, p.266).

“What is this talked of mystery of birth
But being mounted bareback on the earth?
We can just see the infant up astride,
His small fist buried in the bushy hide.

There is our wildest mount – a headless horse.” (Frost ‘Riders, 1969, p.268).

“Won’t this whole instinct matter bear revision?
Won’t almost any theory bear revision?
To err is human, not to, animal.
Or so we pay the compliment to instinct,
Only too liberal of our compliment
That really takes away instead of gives.
We were lost piecemeal to the animals,
Like people thrown out to delay the wolves.
Nothing but fallibility was left to us,
And this day’s work made even that seem doubtful.” (Frost ‘The white tailed hornet’, 1969, p.279).

“As one who shrewdly pretends
That he and the world are friends.


“If I can with confidence say
That still for another day,
Or even another year,
I will be there for you, my dear,

I will be because, though small
As measured against the All,
I have been so instinctively thorough
About my crevice and my burrow.” (Frost ‘A drumlin woodchuck’, 1969, p.282).

“and by teaching them how to sleep the sleep all day
Destroy their sleeping at night the ancient way.” (Frost ‘A drumlin woodchuck’, 1969, p.287).

“What comes over a man, is it soul or mind –
that to no limits and bounds he can stay confined?
You would say his ambition was to extend the reach
Clear to Arctic of every living kind.
Why is his nature forever so hard to teach
That though there is no fixed line between wrong and right
There are roughly zones whose laws must be obeyed.” (Frost ‘There are roughly zones’, 1969, p.305).

“And anyone is free to condemn me to death –
If he leaves it to nature to carry out the sentence.” (Frost ‘Not quite social’, 1969, p.307).

“No memory of having starred
Atones for later disregard
Or keeps the end from being hard.

Better to go down dignified
With boughten friendship at your side
Than none at all. Provide, provide!” (Frost ‘A drumlin woodchuck’, 1969, p.307).

“Were I dictator, I’ll tell you what I’d do.
What should you do?
                                    I’d let things take their course
And then I’d claim the credit for the outcome.” (Frost ‘Build Soil’, 1969, p.320).

“We’re so much out that the odds are against
Our ever getting inside again.
But inside in is where we’ve got to get.
My friends all know I’m interpersonal.
But long before I’m interpersonal,
Away ‘way down I’m personal.” (Frost ‘Build Soil’, 1969, p.320).

“That none shall ever see you come to market –
Not for a lon, long time. Plant, breed, produce,
But what you raise or grow, why, feed it out,
Eat it or plow it under where it stands,
To build the soil.” (Frost ‘Build Soil’, 1969, p.323).

“… Come close, let us conspire ---
In self-restraint, if in restraint of trade.
You will go to your run-out mountain farm
And do what I command you.
Build soil. Turn the farm in upon itself
Until it can contain itself no more,
But sweating-full, drips wine and oil a little.
I will go to my run-out social mind
And be as unsocial as I can.
The thought I have, and my first impulse is
To take to market – I will turn it under.
The thought from that thought – I will turn it under.
And so on to the limit of my nature.
We’re too much out, and if we don’t draw in
We shall be driven in.” (Frost ‘Build Soil’, 1969, p.3203).

“We’re too unseparate out among each other –
With goods to sell and notions to impart.
A youngster comes to me with half a quatrain
To ask me if I think it worth the pains
Of working out the rest, the other half.” (Frost ‘Build Soil’, 1969, p.324).

“We congregate embracing from distrust
As much as love.” (Frost ‘Build Soil’, 1969, p.325).

“… I agree with you
We’re too unseparate. And going home
From company means coming to our senses.” (Frost ‘Build Soil’, 1969, p.325).

“The last step taken found your heft
Decidedly upon your left.
One more would throw your on the right.
Another still – you see your plight.
You call this thinking, but it’s walking.
Not even that, it’s only rocking.


If it makes you look helpless, please,
And a temptation to the tease.
Suppose you’ve no direction in you,
I don’t see but you must continue
To use the gift you do posess,
And sway with reason more or less.


So if you find you must repent
From side to side in argument,
At least don’t use your mind too hard,
But trust my instinct – I’m a bard.” (Frost ‘To a thinker’, 1969, p.326).

“I could give all to Time except – except
What I myself have held. But why declare
The things forbidden that while the Customs slept
I have crossed to Safety with? For I am There,
And what I would not part with I have kept.” (Frost ‘I could give all to Time’, 1969, p.335).

“I sang of death – but I had known
The many deaths one must have died
Before he came to meet his own.” (Frost ‘Build Soil’, 1969, p.336).

“The land was ours before we were the land’s.” (Frost ‘The gift outright’, 1969, p.348).

“And that defense makes three
Between too much and me.” (Frost ‘Triple Bronze’, 1969, p.349).

“One man had lived one hundred years and eight.
But though we all may be inclined to wait
And follow some development of state,
Or see what comes of science and invention,
There is a limit to our time extension.
We all are doomed to broken-off careers,
And so’s the nation, so’s the total race.
The earth itself is liable to the fate
Of meaninglessly being broken off.” (Frost ‘The lesson for today’, 1969, p.355).

“You must be made more simply wise than I
To know the hand I stretch impulsively
Across the gulf of well-nigh everything
May reach to you, but cannot touch your fate.
I cannot touch your life, much less can save,
Who am tasked to save my own a little while.” (Frost ‘To a moth seen in winter’, 1969, p.357).

“It seemed too tiny to have room for feet,
Yet must have had a set of them complete
To express how much it didn’t want to die.
It ran with terror and with cunning crept.
It faltered: I could see it hesitate;
Then in the middle of the open sheet
Cower down in desperation to accept
Whatever I accorded it of fate.” (Frost ‘Build Soil’, 1969, p.320).

“We heard “Tis over” roaring.
A year of leaves was wasted.” (Frost ‘November’, 1969, p.359).

“We need the interruption of the night
To ease attention off when overtight,
To break our logic in too long a flight,
And ask us if our premises are right.” (Frost ‘The literate farmer and the planet venus’, 1969, p.370).

“You know how cunningly mankind is planned:
We have one loving and one hating hand.
The loving’s made to hold each other like,
While with the hating other hand we strike.
The blow can be no stronger than the cluth,
Or soon we’d bat each other out of touch,
And the fray wouldn’t last a single round.” (Frost ‘The literate farmer and the planet venus’, 1969, p.371).

“Relying on its beauty, to the air.
(Less brave perhaps than trusting are the fair).” (Frost ‘A young birch’, 1969, p.375).

“Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.” (Frost ‘Directive’, 1969, p.377).

“Where I could think of no thoroughfare,
Away on the mountain up far too high,
A blinding headlight shifted glare
And began to bounce down a granite stair,
Like a star fresh fallen out of the sky.” (Frost ‘II. Where I not in trouble’, 1969, p.383).

“If you should rise from Nowhere up to Somewhere,
From being No one up to being Someone,
Be sure to keep repeating to yourself
You owe it to an arbitrary god
Whose mercy to you rather than to others
Won’t bear too critical examination.
Stay unassuming.” (Frost ‘The Fear of God’, 1969, p.385).

“I opened the door so my last look
Should be taken outside a house and book.
Before I gave up seeing and slept
I said I would see how Sirius kept
His watchdog eye on what remained
To be gone into if not explained.” (Frost ‘One more brevity’, 1969, p.419).

“He is no fugitive – escaped, escaping.
No one has seen him stumble looking back.
His fear is not behind him but beside him.
It is the future that creates the present.
All is an interminable chain of longing.” (Frost ‘Directive’, 1969, p.421).

“Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee
And I’ll forgive Thy great big one on me.” (Frost ‘Forgive, O Lord …’, 1969, p.428).

“Mind you, we are mind.
We are not the kind
To stay too confined.” (Frost ‘Kitty Hawk’, 1969, p.434).

“But while meditating
What we can’t or can
Let’s keep starring man
In the royal role.
It will not be his
Ever to create
One last germ or coal.
Those two things we can’t.
But the comfort is
In the convenant
We may get control
If not of the whole,
Of at least some part
Where not too immense,
O by craft or art
We can give the part
Wholeness in a sense.” (Frost ‘Kitty Hawk’, 1969, p.4421).

“Like a kitchen spoon
Of a size Titanic
To keep all things stirred
In a blend mechanic
Saying That’ the tune
That’s the pretty kettle!
Matter mustn’t curd,
Separate and settle.
Action is the word.

Nature’s never quite
Sure she hasn’t erred
In her vague design
Till on some fine night
We two cam in flight
Like a king and queen
And by right divine,
Waving sceptre-baton
Undertake to tell her
What in being stellar
She’s supposed to mean.” (Frost ‘Kitty Hawk’, 1969, p.442).

“Once in a California Sierra
I was swooped down upon when I was small,
And measured, but not taken after all,
By a great eagle bird in all its terror.” (Frost ‘Auspex’, 1969, p.443).

“It is right in there
Betwixt and between
The orchard bare
And the orchard green,

When the boughs are right
In a flowery burst
Of pink and white,
That we fear the worst.

For there’s not a clime
But at any cost
Will take that time
For a night if frost.” (Frost ‘Peril of hope’, 1969, p.445).

“The freedom they seek is by politics,
Forever voting and haranguing for it.
The reason artists show so little interest
In public freedom is because the freedom
They’ve come to feel the need of is a kind
No one can give them – they can scarce attain –
The freedom of their own material:
So, never at a loss in simile,
They can command the exact affinity
Of anything they are confronted with.
This perfect moment of unbafflement,
When no man’s name and no noun’s adjective
But summons out of nowhere like a jinni.
We know not what we owe this moment to.
It may be wine, but much more likely love –
Possibly just well-being in the body,
Or respite from the thought of rivalry.
It’s what my father must mean by departure,
Freedom to flash off into wild connections.
Once to have known it, nothing else will do.
Our days all pass awaiting its return.” (Frost ‘A-wishing well’, 1969, p.461).

“The chance is the remotest
Of its going much longer unnoticed
That I’m not keeping pace
With the headlong human race.

And some of them may mind
My staying back behind
To take life at a walk
In philosophic talk;” (Frost ‘Some science fiction’, 1969, p.465).

“God: I’ve had you on my mind a thousand years
To thank you someday for the way you helped me
Establish once for all the principle
There’s no connection man can reason out
Between his just deserts and what he gets.
Virtue may fail and wickedness succeed.
‘Twas a great demonstration we out on.” (Frost ‘A masque of reason’, 1969, p.475).

“God: My thanks are to you for releasing me
From moral bondage to the human race.
The only free will there  at first was man’s,
Who could do good or evil as he chose.
I had no choice but I must follow him
With forfeits and rewards he understood –
Unless I liked to suffer loss of worship.
I had to prosper good and punish evil.
You changed all that. You set me free to reign.
Yo are the Emancipator of your God,
And as such I promote you to a saint.” (Frost ‘A masque of reason’, 1969, p.476).

“… We disparage reason.
But all the time it’s what we’re most concerned with.
There’s will as motor and there’s will as brakes.
Reason is, I suppose, the steering gear.
The will as brakes can’t stop the will as motor
For very long. We’re plainly made to go.” (Frost ‘A masque of reason’, 1969, p.476).

“Jonah: … I can’t trust God to be unmerciful.
Keeper: You’ve lost your faith in God?” (Frost ‘A masque of mercy, 1969, p.498).

“Keeper: … Mercy and justice are a contradiction.” (Frost ‘A masque of mercy, 1969, p.498).

“Jesse Bel: Is this the love of God you preached to me?
Jonah: There’s not the least lack of the love of God
In what I say. Don’t be silly, woman.
His very weakness for mankind’s endearing.
I love and fear Him. Yes, but I fear for Him.
I don’t see how it can be to His interest,
This modern tendency I find in Him
To take the punishment out of all failure.
To be strong, careful, thrifty, diligent,
Anything we once thought we had to be.

Keeper: You know what let’s us off from being careful?
The thing that did what you consider mischief,
That ushered in this modern lenience,
Was the discovery of fire insurance.
The future state is springing even now
From the discovery that loss from failure,
By being spread out over everybody,
Can be made negligible.” (Frost ‘A masque of mercy, 1969, p.506).

“Paul: … I’m glad to hear you say
You can’t trust God to be unmerciful.
Whaot would you have God if not merciful?

Jonah: Just, I would have Him just before all else,
To see that the fair fight is really fair.
Then he could enter on the stricken field
After the fight’s so definitely done
There can be no disputing who has won –
Then he could enter no the stricken field
As Red Cross Ambulance Commander-in-Chief
To ease the more extremely wounded out
And mend the others up to go again.” (Frost ‘A masque of mercy, 1969, p.508).

“Paul: … The rich in seeing nothing but injustice
In their impoverishment by revolution
Are right. But ‘twas intentional injustice.
It was their justice being mercy-crossed.
The revolution Keeper’S brining on
Is nothing but an outbreak of mass mercy.” (Frost ‘A masque of mercy, 1969, p.509).

“Paul: … And if you’ve got to see your justice crossed
(And you’ve got to), which will you prefer
To see it, evil-crossed or mercy-crossed.” (Frost ‘A masque of mercy, 1969, p.510).

“Paul: Christ came to introduce a break with logic
That made all other outrage seem as child’s play:
The Mercy on the Sin against the Sermon.” (Frost ‘A masque of mercy, 1969, p.511).

“Keeper: … The Sermon on the Mount
Is just a frame up to insure the failure
Of all of us, so all of us will be
Thrown prostrate at the Mercy Seat for Mercy.” (Frost ‘A masque of mercy, 1969, p.511).

“Paul: Yes, spoken so we can’t live up to it,
Yet so we’ll have to weep because we can’t.
Mercy is only to the undeserving.
But such we all are made in the sight of God.” (Frost ‘A masque of mercy, 1969, p.512).

“Jonah: If what you say is true, if winning ranks
The same with God as losing, how explain
Our making all this effort mortals make?” (Frost ‘A masque of mercy, 1969, p.517).

“Jesse Bel: … I am right then?
Keeper:                                 --- In glorifying courage.
Courage is of the heart by derivation,
And great it is. But fear is of the soul.
And I’m afraid.” (Frost ‘A masque of mercy, 1969, p.520).

“Paul: … We have to stay afraid deep in our souls
Our sacrifice – the best we have to offer.
Our lives laid down in war and peace – may not
Be found acceptable in Heaven’s sight.
And that they may be is the only prayer
Worth praying. May my sacrifice
Be found acceptable in Heaven’s sight.
Keeper: (…)
We both have lacked the courage in the heart
To overcome the fear within the soul
And go ahead to any accomplishment.
Courage is what it takes and takes the more of
Because the deeper fear is so eternal.

Nothing can make injustice just but mercy.” (Frost ‘A masque of mercy, 1969, p.521).

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