Tag Archives: Robert Frost

“A Patch of Old Snow” by Robert Frost

DirtySnow

Since we have already had snow recently, and it is supposed to dip way below freezing tonight, I figured this might be appropriate to read.

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.

For me, the primary metaphor here is melting snow representing the passage of time, the events of our lives melting away and soon forgotten. But what really struck me was the last line: “If I ever read it.” So much of life happens around us without our notice. We are busy with our lives, absorbed in our own thoughts, and we neglect to see events unfolding that may be significant. I try to practice mindfulness and be aware of life as it transpires around me, but then the stresses creep back in and I find myself caught up in the frenzy again.

This poem makes me feel a little sad, but it also inspires me somewhat. I can choose to slow down and read the story of world around me and make time to contemplate it, before it melts away.

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“A Prayer in Spring” by Robert Frost

Maypole: Source - Wikipedia

Maypole: Source – Wikipedia

It’s May 1, so for those of you who celebrate, I wish you a blessed Beltane.

I wanted to choose a poem that was appropriate for the day, and this one seems to express the essence of May Day.

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

While Frost is communicating with the male deity, he clearly feels a connection to Nature and is in touch with the sacred act of regeneration and rebirth. Although it seems a little clichéd nowadays, he incorporates imagery of “the birds and the bees” to emphasize the sexual essence of spring. I personally really liked how he describes the hummingbird thrusting the phallic bill into the feminine blossom. That is by far the best metaphor in the poem.

What makes this poem work, though, is the fact that it is a celebration, and the feeling of joy, love, and elation really comes across when you read it. I could feel the poet’s passion which he sees mirrored in Nature. And rightfully so, Frost acknowledges that the love he is witnessing and feeling comes from a divine source and that the act of procreation is truly a holy act.

Thanks for stopping by and may your day be filled with blessings and happiness.

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“Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost

RobertFrost

My daughter told me that she had to memorize this poem for school and that she really liked it, so I figured I would read it also. I too really liked this poem. It is very short, so I will include it here.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

On the surface, he appears to be describing global cataclysm, but I think this is a metaphor for something more personal. In the poem, Frost associates the destructive power of fire with desire, while he associates ice with hate. While these could certainly apply to global destruction, where desire and greed fuel a burning lust that drives people to rape the environment and where hatred of others creates the icy feeling of indifference, I also feel that they apply to personal relationships. The two things that can destroy a relationship faster than anything is the flame of lust for someone else, and the cold disregard for someone that you no longer feel passionate about. The world which one creates with another person can be quickly destroyed by both desire and hate.

For me, the opposite of desire is acceptance, and the opposite of hate is love. In my personal world, as well as in my interaction with the larger world around me, I strive to focus on love and acceptance instead of hate and desire. Doing so has made the world around me a better place.

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“Stars” by Robert Frost

Source: Wikimedia

Source: Wikimedia

As some of you probably figured out, I like to write about poetry that is in synch with the seasons. This one is definitely a winter poem.

How countlessly they congregate
O’er our tumultuous snow,
Which flows in shapes as tall as trees
When wintry winds do blow!—

As if with keenness for our fate,
Our faltering few steps on
To white rest, and a place of rest
Invisible at dawn, —

And yet with neither love nor hate,
Those stars like some snow-white
Minerva’s snow-white marble eyes
Without the gift of sight.

I can relate to the imagery here. I love to walk at night after it has snowed. The stars seem brighter in the cold winter sky and the blanket of crystalline white creates a scene that is truly magical for me. But winter is also the symbolic time of death, and the second stanza certainly evokes that image. It is almost like the snow is a heavenly white funeral pall.

So keeping the imagery of winter and death in my mind, I thought about the rest of the poem and tried to grasp the symbolism of the stars. I think the key is the Roman goddess Minerva, who is the virgin goddess of music, poetry, wisdom, and magic. It appears that the stars are a metaphor for either love or artistic expression (possibly both) which, like the virgin goddess, is unattainable. I get the sense that someone is dying, and as he nears his death, he gazes at the distant stars, realizing he will never attain that for which he longed his whole life, be it artistic expression or unrequited love.

This poem is both sad and beautiful. While the imagery is gorgeous and full of wonder, there is a deep sadness below the surface, like the cold, hard earth below the soft white drifts of snow.

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“My November Guest” by Robert Frost

From Archive.org

From Archive.org

I love autumn—the sound of rustling leaves in the cold wind, the skeletal trees silhouetted against dark skies, the smell of foliage beginning to decay. For me, the season symbolizes the end of growth and the vibrant transition to death, with a promise to be reborn after the cold, white season of rest. I decided to read something this morning that spoke of autumn, so I pulled my copy of The Complete Poems of Robert Frost off my shelf, figuring that would be a good place to look. And there, the third poem listed in the table of contents, was “My November Guest.”

My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
For they are better for her praise.

This poem expresses exactly how I am feeling as I listen to the steady wind outside my window. It’s a strange blend of sadness and wonder. Although Nature is in her final stages, shaking off the last vestiges of life, there is the promise of renewal. Come spring, the cycle will begin anew.

Like Frost, it was “not yesterday that I learned to know the love of bare November days.” This is something I have always felt, a feeling instilled in me as a child camping and exploring in the woods of the northeast. I’m grateful to live in a place where I can experience the seasons and witness Nature’s cycles each year. There is something spiritual about it that is difficult to express, although Robert Frost does it quite well.

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“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost

RobertFrostI’ve read this poem several times over the years and have always taken it to be an expression of the satisfaction experienced by going your own way and not following the crowd. But as I read it again today, I got a completely different impression. I am not going to choose one interpretation over the other, but I figured I’d share my alternative view of the poem.

The first thing that caught my attention was in the opening line: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” I had never given too much thought to the yellow wood in the past, but now it struck me as an autumnal scene and likely symbolizing a person late in life, nearing death. Immediately, the poem took on a more somber tone for me, just from this one image.

As we all know, the protagonist goes down the road less traveled. But I realized, Frost is not writing about the road less traveled, he is writing about the path that he did not choose. He seems to regret not choosing the well-traveled path when he realizes he cannot go back and take that other road:

Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

Then the final stanza took on an entirely new meaning for me. No longer was the speaker happy that he had chosen the one less traveled. If he was happy, why would he sigh? It seems more likely that this person is at the end of his life and haunted by regret.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

If I were to venture a guess, the protagonist chose a path of being alone, as opposed to the path of marriage or companionship. I suspect he is looking around at all the happy couples, growing old together, and now wishes he had gone down that “road not taken.” He realizes he can never go back and take that other road. He is destined to die alone.

I know this is not the positive, inspirational message that is generally associated with this poem, but I think it is worth considering. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts. Click here to read the entire poem online.

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