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John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

My favorite Robert Frost poems




About Robert Frost

Robert Frost was born in San Francisco California, on March 26, 1874 to William Prescott Frost, Jr., a former teacher and journalist and was  later an editor of the San Francisco Evening Bulletin and Isabelle Moodie. The Frost family had arrived in New Hampshire from Devon England in 1634.
After his father’s death of tuberculosis on May 5, 1885 when Frost was 11 (He left the family with just eight dollars.) the Frost family moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, where Robert's grandfather, William Frost, Sr., ran a mill. Frost graduated from Lawrence High School in 1892.  (He published his first poem in his high school's magazine.)
 He went on to Dartmouth College for two months but returned home to teach school. However, the young poet also held down a number of other jobs as well, including newspaper delivery, factory worker and carbon filament changer, all the while honing his skills as a poet. In 1894 he sold his first poem, "My Butterfly. An Elegy" to the New York Independent for $15 (Which would amount to several hundred dollars today)
The young scribe then proposed marriage to Elinor Miriam White, but she declined, wisely, wishing to finish college at St. Lawrence University before they married. Frost  asked her once more before she accepted (after she graduated) and the two were married in Lawrence, Massachusetts on December 19, 1895.
The couple would have six children, son Elliot would die of cholera in 1904. Daughter Lesley died in 1983, son Carol committed suicide in 1940, daughter Irma died in 1967, daughter Marjorie died in 1934 as a result of puerperal fever after childbirth and daughter Elinor Bettina died just three days after her birth in 1907. Only Lesley and Irma outlived their father. Frost's wife, who had heart problems throughout her life, developed breast cancer in 1937, and died of heart failure in 1938.
Frost attended Harvard University but left in 1899 due to illness.  It was around that time, that Robert's grandfather purchased a farm for Robert and Elinor in Derry, New Hampshire (The grandfather died shortly afterwards)
Frost worked the farm for nine years, writing early in the mornings and working the land during the rest of the day. It was a productive time for him and most of his better known poems were written during this period of his life. 
In 1906 (His mother died of cancer in 1900.)  Frost left the back breaking life of farmer to teach English at the prestigious New Hampshire Pinkerton Academy from 1906 to 1911, then at the New Hampshire Normal School (now Plymouth State University) in Plymouth, New Hampshire.
In 1912 Frost settled in England, in Beaconsfield, a small town outside London and a year later, in 1913, his first book of poetry, A Boy's Will, was published and in 1914 he followed up with second book, North of Boston. Also while in England, Frost met many of the leading writers and poets of his day including Edward Thomas , T.E. Hulme, and Ezra Pound.
Frost returned to America in 1915, the inset of World War One and bought a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire, where he settled back into his writing-teaching career. The family would live there until 1938. (Today the farm is maintained as The Frost Place, a museum and poetry conference site.)
In 1920, Frost, who suffered from severe depression as his mother did, was forced to commit his younger sister Jeanie to a mental hospital, where she died nine years later. Later, in 1947, Frost’s daughter Irma was committed to a mental hospital in 1947 and his wife also suffered bouts of depression as well.
The year 1924 sounded a brighter note , Frost was awarded the first of four Pulitzer Prizes for the book New Hampshire: A Poem with Notes and Grace Notes. He would win additional Pulitzers for Collected Poems in 1931, A Further Range in 1937, and A Witness Tree in 1943.
At age 86, Frost read his poem "The Gift Outright" at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. He died in Boston two years later, on January 29, 1963, of complications from surgery. He is buried at the Old Bennington Cemetery in Bennington, Vermont. His epitaph quotes the last line from his poem, "The Lesson for Today (1942): "I had a lover's quarrel with the world."



FIRE AND ICE

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 know that for destruction ice
Is also great,
And would suffice.

________________________________________


STOPPING BY A WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING

 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.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods 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.

________________________________________


THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
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.
________________________________________



NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf's a flower;
 But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.
 So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.
 Nothing gold can stay.


________________________________________



CARPE DIEM

Age saw two quiet children
Go loving by at twilight,
He knew not whether homeward,
Or outward from the village,
Or (chimes were ringing) churchward,
He waited, (they were strangers)
Till they were out of hearing
To bid them both be happy.
"Be happy, happy, happy,
And seize the day of pleasure."
The age-long theme is Age's.
'Twas Age imposed on poems
Their gather-roses burden
To warn against the danger
That overtaken lovers
From being overflooded
With happiness should have it.
And yet not know they have it.
But bid life seize the present?
It lives less in the present
Than in the future always,
And less in both together
Than in the past. The present
Is too much for the senses,
Too crowding, too confusing-
Too present to imagine


________________________________________

BIRCHES

WHEN I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust––
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows––
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
________________________________________

THE PASTURE

 I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I shan't be gone long. -- You come too.

I'm going out to fetch the little calf
That's standing by the mother. It's so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I shan't be gone long. -- You come too



MENDING WALL 

SOMETHING there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!"
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
"Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."

________________________________________


THE DEATH OFA HIRED MAN

MARY sat musing on the lamp-flame at the table
Waiting for Warren. When she heard his step,
She ran on tip-toe down the darkened passage
To meet him in the doorway with the news
And put him on his guard. "Silas is back."
She pushed him outward with her through the door
And shut it after her. "Be kind," she said.
She took the market things from Warren's arms
And set them on the porch, then drew him down
To sit beside her on the wooden steps.
"When was I ever anything but kind to him?
But I'll not have the fellow back," he said.
"I told him so last haying, didn't I?
'If he left then,' I said, 'that ended it.'
What good is he? Who else will harbour him
At his age for the little he can do?
What help he is there's no depending on.
Off he goes always when I need him most.
'He thinks he ought to earn a little pay,
Enough at least to buy tobacco with,
So he won't have to beg and be beholden.'
'All right,' I say, 'I can't afford to pay
Any fixed wages, though I wish I could.'
'Someone else can.' 'Then someone else will have to.'
I shouldn't mind his bettering himself
If that was what it was. You can be certain,
When he begins like that, there's someone at him
Trying to coax him off with pocket-money,—
In haying time, when any help is scarce.
In winter he comes back to us. I'm done."
"Sh! not so loud: he'll hear you," Mary said.
"I want him to: he'll have to soon or late."
"He's worn out. He's asleep beside the stove.
When I came up from Rowe's I found him here,
Huddled against the barn-door fast asleep,
A miserable sight, and frightening, too—
You needn't smile—I didn't recognise him—
I wasn't looking for him—and he's changed.
Wait till you see."
"Where did you say he'd been?"
"He didn't say. I dragged him to the house,
And gave him tea and tried to make him smoke.
I tried to make him talk about his travels.
Nothing would do: he just kept nodding off."
"What did he say? Did he say anything?"
"But little."
"Anything? Mary, confess
He said he'd come to ditch the meadow for me."
"Warren!"
"But did he? I just want to know."
"Of course he did. What would you have him say?
Surely you wouldn't grudge the poor old man
Some humble way to save his self-respect.
He added, if you really care to know,
He meant to clear the upper pasture, too.
That sounds like something you have heard before?
Warren, I wish you could have heard the way
He jumbled everything. I stopped to look
Two or three times—he made me feel so queer—
To see if he was talking in his sleep.
He ran on Harold Wilson—you remember—
The boy you had in haying four years since.
He's finished school, and teaching in his college.
Silas declares you'll have to get him back.
He says they two will make a team for work:
Between them they will lay this farm as smooth!
The way he mixed that in with other things.
He thinks young Wilson a likely lad, though daft
On education—you know how they fought
All through July under the blazing sun,
Silas up on the cart to build the load,
Harold along beside to pitch it on."
"Yes, I took care to keep well out of earshot."
"Well, those days trouble Silas like a dream.
You wouldn't think they would. How some things linger!
Harold's young college boy's assurance piqued him.
After so many years he still keeps finding
Good arguments he sees he might have used.
I sympathise. I know just how it feels
To think of the right thing to say too late.
Harold's associated in his mind with Latin.
He asked me what I thought of Harold's saying
He studied Latin like the violin
Because he liked it—that an argument!
He said he couldn't make the boy believe
He could find water with a hazel prong—
Which showed how much good school had ever done him.
He wanted to go over that. But most of all
He thinks if he could have another chance
To teach him how to build a load of hay——"
"I know, that's Silas' one accomplishment.
He bundles every forkful in its place,
And tags and numbers it for future reference,
So he can find and easily dislodge it
In the unloading. Silas does that well.
He takes it out in bunches like big birds' nests.
You never see him standing on the hay
He's trying to lift, straining to lift himself."
"He thinks if he could teach him that, he'd be
Some good perhaps to someone in the world.
He hates to see a boy the fool of books.
Poor Silas, so concerned for other folk,
And nothing to look backward to with pride,
And nothing to look forward to with hope,
So now and never any different."
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. She saw
And spread her apron to it. She put out her hand
Among the harp-like morning-glory strings,
Taut with the dew from garden bed to eaves,
As if she played unheard the tenderness
That wrought on him beside her in the night.
"Warren," she said, "he has come home to die:
You needn't be afraid he'll leave you this time."
"Home," he mocked gently.
"Yes, what else but home?
It all depends on what you mean by home.
Of course he's nothing to us, any more
Than was the hound that came a stranger to us
Out of the woods, worn out upon the trail."
"Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in."
"I should have called it
Something you somehow haven't to deserve."
Warren leaned out and took a step or two,
Picked up a little stick, and brought it back
And broke it in his hand and tossed it by.
"Silas has better claim on us you think
Than on his brother? Thirteen little miles
As the road winds would bring him to his door.
Silas has walked that far no doubt to-day.
Why didn't he go there? His brother's rich,
A somebody—director in the bank."
"He never told us that."
"We know it though."
"I think his brother ought to help, of course.
I'll see to that if there is need. He ought of right
To take him in, and might be willing to—
He may be better than appearances.
But have some pity on Silas. Do you think
If he'd had any pride in claiming kin
Or anything he looked for from his brother,
He'd keep so still about him all this time?"
"I wonder what's between them."
"I can tell you.
Silas is what he is—we wouldn't mind him—
But just the kind that kinsfolk can't abide.
He never did a thing so very bad.
He don't know why he isn't quite as good
As anyone. He won't be made ashamed
To please his brother, worthless though he is."
"I can't think Si ever hurt anyone."
"No, but he hurt my heart the way he lay
And rolled his old head on that sharp-edged chair-back.
He wouldn't let me put him on the lounge.
You must go in and see what you can do.
I made the bed up for him there to-night.
You'll be surprised at him—how much he's broken.
His working days are done; I'm sure of it."
"I'd not be in a hurry to say that."
"I haven't been. Go, look, see for yourself.
But, Warren, please remember how it is:
He's come to help you ditch the meadow.
He has a plan. You mustn't laugh at him.
He may not speak of it, and then he may.
I'll sit and see if that small sailing cloud
Will hit or miss the moon."
It hit the moon.
Then there were three there, making a dim row,
The moon, the little silver cloud, and she.
Warren returned—too soon, it seemed to her,
Slipped to her side, caught up her hand and waited.
"Warren," she questioned.
"Dead," was all he answered.
________________________________________



AFTER APPLE PICKING

MY long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.
________________________________________


THE GRINDSTONE

Having a wheel and four legs of its own
Has never availed the cumbersome grindstone
To get it anywhere that I can see.
These hands have helped it go and even race;
Not all the motion, though, they ever lent,
Not all the miles it may have thought it went,
Have got it one step from the starting place.
It stands beside the same old apple tree.
The shadow of the apple tree is thin
Upon it now; its feet are fast in snow.
All other farm machinery's gone in,
And some of it on no more legs and wheel
Than the grindstone can boast to stand or go.
(I'm thinking chiefly of the wheelbarrow.)
For months it hasn't known the taste of steel,
Washed down with rusty water in a tin.
But standing outdoors, hungry, in the cold,
Except in towns, at night, is not a sin.
And, anyway, its standing in the yard
Under a ruinous live apple tree
Has nothing any more to do with me,
Except that I remember how of old,
One summer day, all day I drove it hard,
And some one mounted on it rode it hard,
And he and I between us ground a blade.

I gave it the preliminary spin,
And poured on water (tears it might have been);
And when it almost gayly jumped and flowed,
A Father-Time-like man got on and rode,
Armed with a scythe and spectacles that glowed.
He turned on will-power to increase the load
And slow me down--and I abruptly slowed,
Like coming to a sudden railroad station.
I changed from hand to hand in desperation.

I wondered what machine of ages gone
This represented an improvement on.
For all I knew it may have sharpened spears
And arrowheads itself. Much use for years
Had gradually worn it an oblate
Spheroid that kicked and struggled in its gait,
Appearing to return me hate for hate.
(But I forgive it now as easily
As any other boyhood enemy
Whose pride has failed to get him anywhere.)
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.

Not for myself was I so much concerned.
Oh, no!--although, of course, I could have found
A better way to pass the afternoon
Than grinding discord out of a grindstone,
And beating insects at their gritty tune.
Nor was I for the man so much concerned.
Once when the grindstone almost jumped its bearing
It looked as if he might be badly thrown
And wounded on his blade. So far from caring,
I laughed inside, and only cranked the faster,
(It ran as if it wasn't greased but glued);
I welcomed any moderate disaster
That might be calculated to postpone
What evidently nothing could conclude.

The thing that made me more and more afraid
Was that we'd ground it sharp and hadn't known,
And now were only wasting precious blade.
And when he raised it dripping once and tried
The creepy edge of it with wary touch,
And viewed it over his glasses funny-eyed,
Only disinterestedly to decide
It needed a turn more, I could have cried
Wasn't there danger of a turn too much?
Mightn't we make it worse instead of better?
I was for leaving something to the whetter.
What if it wasn't all it should be? I'd
Be satisfied if he'd be satisfied.

________________________________________

THE WITCH OF COOS

I staid the night for shelter at a farm
Behind the mountain, with a mother and son,
Two old-believers. They did all the talking.

_The Mother_
Folks think a witch who has familiar spirits
She _could_ call up to pass a winter evening,
But _won't_, should be burned at the stake or something.
Summoning spirits isn't "Button, button,
Who's got the button?" I'd have you understand.

_The Son_
Mother can make a common table rear
And kick with two legs like an army mule.

_The Mother_
And when I've done it, what good have I done?
Rather than tip a table for you, let me
Tell you what Ralle the Sioux Control once told me.
He said the dead had souls, but when I asked him
How that could be--I thought the dead were souls,
He broke my trance. Don't that make you suspicious
That there's something the dead are keeping back?
Yes, there's something the dead are keeping back.

_The Son_
You wouldn't want to tell him what we have
Up attic, mother?

_The Mother_
Bones--a skeleton.

_The Son_
But the headboard of mother's bed is pushed
Against the attic door: the door is nailed.
It's harmless. Mother hears it in the night
Halting perplexed behind the barrier
Of door and headboard. Where it wants to get
Is back into the cellar where it came from.

_The Mother_
We'll never let them, will we, son? We'll never!

_The Son_
It left the cellar forty years ago
And carried itself like a pile of dishes
Up one flight from the cellar to the kitchen,
Another from the kitchen to the bedroom,
Another from the bedroom to the attic,
Right past both father and mother, and neither stopped it.
Father had gone upstairs; mother was downstairs.
I was a baby: I don't know where I was.

_The Mother_
The only fault my husband found with me--
I went to sleep before I went to bed,
Especially in winter when the bed
Might just as well be ice and the clothes snow.
The night the bones came up the cellar-stairs
Toffile had gone to bed alone and left me,
But left an open door to cool the room off
So as to sort of turn me out of it.
I was just coming to myself enough
To wonder where the cold was coming from,
When I heard Toffile upstairs in the bedroom
And thought I heard him downstairs in the cellar.
The board we had laid down to walk dry-shod on
When there was water in the cellar in spring
Struck the hard cellar bottom. And then some one
Began the stairs, two footsteps for each step,
The way a man with one leg and a crutch,
Or little child, comes up. It wasn't Toffile:
It wasn't any one who could be there.
The bulkhead double-doors were double-locked
And swollen tight and buried under snow.
The cellar windows were banked up with sawdust
And swollen tight and buried under snow.
It was the bones. I knew them--and good reason.
My first impulse was to get to the knob
And hold the door. But the bones didn't try
The door; they halted helpless on the landing,
Waiting for things to happen in their favor.
The faintest restless rustling ran all through them.
I never could have done the thing I did
If the wish hadn't been too strong in me
To see how they were mounted for this walk.
I had a vision of them put together
Not like a man, but like a chandelier.
So suddenly I flung the door wide on him.
A moment he stood balancing with emotion,
And all but lost himself. (A tongue of fire
Flashed out and licked along his upper teeth.
Smoke rolled inside the sockets of his eyes.)
Then he came at me with one hand outstretched,
The way he did in life once; but this time
I struck the hand off brittle on the floor,
And fell back from him on the floor myself.
The finger-pieces slid in all directions.
(Where did I see one of those pieces lately?
Hand me my button-box--it must be there.)
I sat up on the floor and shouted, "Toffile,
It's coming up to you." It had its choice
Of the door to the cellar or the hall.
It took the hall door for the novelty,
And set off briskly for so slow a thing,
Still going every which way in the joints, though,
So that it looked like lightning or a scribble,
From the slap I had just now given its hand.
I listened till it almost climbed the stairs
From the hall to the only finished bedroom,
Before I got up to do anything;
Then ran and shouted, "Shut the bedroom door,
Toffile, for my sake!" "Company," he said,
"Don't make me get up; I'm too warm in bed."
So lying forward weakly on the handrail
I pushed myself upstairs, and in the light
(The kitchen had been dark) I had to own
I could see nothing. "Toffile, I don't see it.
It's with us in the room, though. It's the bones."
"What bones?" "The cellar bones--out of the grave."

*     *     *     *     *

That made him throw his bare legs out of bed
And sit up by me and take hold of me.
I wanted to put out the light and see
If I could see it, or else mow the room,
With our arms at the level of our knees,
And bring the chalk-pile down. "I'll tell you what--
It's looking for another door to try.
The uncommonly deep snow has made him think
Of his old song, _The Wild Colonial Boy_,
He always used to sing along the tote-road.
He's after an open door to get out-doors.
Let's trap him with an open door up attic."
Toffile agreed to that, and sure enough,
Almost the moment he was given an opening,
The steps began to climb the attic stairs.
I heard them. Toffile didn't seem to hear them.
"Quick!" I slammed to the door and held the knob.
"Toffile, get nails." I made him nail the door shut,
And push the headboard of the bed against it.

Then we asked was there anything
Up attic that we'd ever want again.
The attic was less to us than the cellar.
If the bones liked the attic, let them like it,
Let them _stay_ in the attic. When they sometimes
Come down the stairs at night and stand perplexed
Behind the door and headboard of the bed,
Brushing their chalky skull with chalky fingers,
With sounds like the dry rattling of a shutter,
That's what I sit up in the dark to say--
To no one any more since Toffile died.
Let them stay in the attic since they went there.
I promised Toffile to be cruel to them
For helping them be cruel once to him.

_The Son_
We think they had a grave down in the cellar.

_The Mother_
We know they had a grave down in the cellar.

_The Son_
We never could find out whose bones they were.

_The Mother_
Yes, we could too, son. Tell the truth for once.
They were a man's his father killed for me.
I mean a man he killed instead of me.
The least I could do was to help dig their grave.
We were about it one night in the cellar.
Son knows the story: but 'twas not for him
To tell the truth, suppose the time had come.
Son looks surprised to see me end a lie
We'd kept up all these years between ourselves
So as to have it ready for outsiders.
But to-night I don't care enough to lie--
I don't remember why I ever cared.
Toffile, if he were here, I don't believe
Could tell you why he ever cared himself....

She hadn't found the finger-bone she wanted
Among the buttons poured out in her lap.

I verified the name next morning: Toffile;
The rural letter-box said Toffile Lajway.

________________________________________


A BROOK IN THE CITY

The farm house lingers, though averse to square
With the new city street it has to wear
A number in. But what about the brook
That held the house as in an elbow-crook?
I ask as one who knew the brook, its strength
And impulse, having dipped a finger-length
And made it leap my knuckle, having tossed
A flower to try its currents where they crossed.
The meadow grass could be cemented down
From growing under pavements of a town;
The apple trees be sent to hearth-stone flame.
Is water wood to serve a brook the same?
How else dispose of an immortal force
No longer needed? Staunch it at its source
With cinder loads dumped down? The brook was thrown
Deep in a sewer dungeon under stone
In fetid darkness still to live and run--
And all for nothing it had ever done
Except forget to go in fear perhaps.
No one would know except for ancient maps
That such a brook ran water. But I wonder
If, from its being kept forever under,
These thoughts may not have risen that so keep
This new-built city from both work and sleep.
________________________________________


DESIGN

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth--
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches' broth--
A snow-drop spider, a flower like froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appal?--
If design govern in a thing so small.
________________________________________

GOOD HOURS

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 CONSIDERABLE SPECK
(Microscopic)

A speck that would have been beneath my sight
On any but a paper sheet so white
Set off across what I had written there.
And I had idly poised my pen in air
To stop it with a period of ink
When something strange about it made me think,
This was no dust speck by my breathing blown,
But unmistakably a living mite
With inclinations it could call its own.
It paused as with suspicion of my pen,
And then came racing wildly on again
To where my manuscript was not yet dry;
Then paused again and either drank or smelt--
With loathing, for again it turned to fly.
Plainly with an intelligence I dealt.
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.
I have none of the tenderer-than-thou
Collectivistic regimenting love
With which the modern world is being swept.
But this poor microscopic item now!
Since it was nothing I knew evil of
I let it lie there till I hope it slept.

I have a mind myself and recognize
Mind when I meet with it in any guise
No one can know how glad I am to find
On any sheet the least display of mind.

________________________________________

CHOOSE SOMETHING LIKE A STAR

O Star (the fairest one in sight),
We grant your loftiness the right
To some obscurity of cloud --
It will not do to say of night,
Since dark is what brings out your light.
Some mystery becomes the proud.
But to be wholly taciturn
In your reserve is not allowed.

Say something to us we can learn
By heart and when alone repeat.
Say something! And it says "I burn."
But say with what degree of heat.
Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.
Use language we can comprehend.
Tell us what elements you blend.

It gives us strangely little aid,
But does tell something in the end.
And steadfast as Keats' Eremite,
Not even stooping from its sphere,
It asks a little of us here.
It asks of us a certain height,
So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry praise or blame too far,
We may choose something like a star
To stay our minds on and be staid.

________________________________________

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.

________________________________________

HOME BURIAL

He saw her from the bottom of the stairs
Before she saw him. She was starting down,
Looking back over her shoulder at some fear.
She took a doubtful step and then undid it
To raise herself and look again. He spoke
Advancing toward her: ‘What is it you see
From up there always—for I want to know.’
She turned and sank upon her skirts at that,
And her face changed from terrified to dull.
He said to gain time: ‘What is it you see,’
Mounting until she cowered under him.
‘I will find out now—you must tell me, dear.’
She, in her place, refused him any help
With the least stiffening of her neck and silence.
She let him look, sure that he wouldn’t see,
Blind creature; and awhile he didn’t see.
But at last he murmured, ‘Oh,’ and again, ‘Oh.’

‘What is it—what?’ she said.

                                          ‘Just that I see.’

‘You don’t,’ she challenged. ‘Tell me what it is.’

‘The wonder is I didn’t see at once.
I never noticed it from here before.
I must be wonted to it—that’s the reason.
The little graveyard where my people are!
So small the window frames the whole of it.
Not so much larger than a bedroom, is it?
There are three stones of slate and one of marble,
Broad-shouldered little slabs there in the sunlight
On the sidehill. We haven’t to mind those.
But I understand: it is not the stones,
But the child’s mound—’

                             ‘Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t,’ she cried.

She withdrew shrinking from beneath his arm
That rested on the banister, and slid downstairs;
And turned on him with such a daunting look,
He said twice over before he knew himself:
‘Can’t a man speak of his own child he’s lost?’

‘Not you! Oh, where’s my hat? Oh, I don’t need it!
I must get out of here. I must get air.
I don’t know rightly whether any man can.’

‘Amy! Don’t go to someone else this time.
Listen to me. I won’t come down the stairs.’
He sat and fixed his chin between his fists.
‘There’s something I should like to ask you, dear.’

‘You don’t know how to ask it.’

                                              ‘Help me, then.’

Her fingers moved the latch for all reply.

‘My words are nearly always an offense.
I don’t know how to speak of anything
So as to please you. But I might be taught
I should suppose. I can’t say I see how.
A man must partly give up being a man
With women-folk. We could have some arrangement
By which I’d bind myself to keep hands off
Anything special you’re a-mind to name.
Though I don’t like such things ’twixt those that love.
Two that don’t love can’t live together without them.
But two that do can’t live together with them.’
She moved the latch a little. ‘Don’t—don’t go.
Don’t carry it to someone else this time.
Tell me about it if it’s something human.
Let me into your grief. I’m not so much
Unlike other folks as your standing there
Apart would make me out. Give me my chance.
I do think, though, you overdo it a little.
What was it brought you up to think it the thing
To take your mother-loss of a first child
So inconsolably—in the face of love.
You’d think his memory might be satisfied—’

‘There you go sneering now!’

                                           ‘I’m not, I’m not!
You make me angry. I’ll come down to you.
God, what a woman! And it’s come to this,
A man can’t speak of his own child that’s dead.’

‘You can’t because you don't know how to speak.
If you had any feelings, you that dug
With your own hand—how could you?—his little grave;
I saw you from that very window there,
Making the gravel leap and leap in air,
Leap up, like that, like that, and land so lightly
And roll back down the mound beside the hole.
I thought, Who is that man? I didn’t know you.
And I crept down the stairs and up the stairs
To look again, and still your spade kept lifting.
Then you came in. I heard your rumbling voice
Out in the kitchen, and I don’t know why,
But I went near to see with my own eyes.
You could sit there with the stains on your shoes
Of the fresh earth from your own baby’s grave
And talk about your everyday concerns.
You had stood the spade up against the wall
Outside there in the entry, for I saw it.’

‘I shall laugh the worst laugh I ever laughed.
I’m cursed. God, if I don’t believe I’m cursed.’

‘I can repeat the very words you were saying:
“Three foggy mornings and one rainy day
Will rot the best birch fence a man can build.”
Think of it, talk like that at such a time!
What had how long it takes a birch to rot
To do with what was in the darkened parlor?
You couldn’t care! The nearest friends can go
With anyone to death, comes so far short
They might as well not try to go at all.
No, from the time when one is sick to death,
One is alone, and he dies more alone.
Friends make pretense of following to the grave,
But before one is in it, their minds are turned
And making the best of their way back to life
And living people, and things they understand.
But the world’s evil. I won’t have grief so
If I can change it. Oh, I won’t, I won’t!’

‘There, you have said it all and you feel better.
You won’t go now. You’re crying. Close the door.
The heart’s gone out of it: why keep it up.
Amy! There’s someone coming down the road!’

‘You—oh, you think the talk is all. I must go—
Somewhere out of this house. How can I make you—’

‘If—you—do!’ She was opening the door wider.
‘Where do you mean to go?  First tell me that.
I’ll follow and bring you back by force.  I will!—’


________________________________________

A SERVANT TO SERVANTS


 I didn't make you know how glad I was
To have you come and camp here on our land.
I promised myself to get down some day
And see the way you lived, but I don't know!
With a houseful of hungry men to feed
I guess you'd find.... It seems to me
I can't express my feelings any more
Than I can raise my voice or want to lift
My hand (oh, I can lift it when I have to).
Did ever you feel so? I hope you never.
It's got so I don't even know for sure
Whether I am glad, sorry, or anything.
There's nothing but a voice-like left inside
That seems to tell me how I ought to feel,
And would feel if I wasn't all gone wrong.
You take the lake. I look and look at it.
I see it's a fair, pretty sheet of water.
I stand and make myself repeat out loud
The advantages it has, so long and narrow,
Like a deep piece of some old running river
Cut short off at both ends. It lies five miles
Straight away through the mountain notch
From the sink window where I wash the plates,
And all our storms come up toward the house,
Drawing the slow waves whiter and whiter and whiter.
It took my mind off doughnuts and soda biscuit
To step outdoors and take the water dazzle
A sunny morning, or take the rising wind
About my face and body and through my wrapper,
When a storm threatened from the Dragon's Den,
And a cold chill shivered across the lake.
I see it's a fair, pretty sheet of water,
Our Willoughby! How did you hear of it?
I expect, though, everyone's heard of it.
In a book about ferns? Listen to that!
You let things more like feathers regulate
Your going and coming. And you like it here?
I can see how you might. But I don't know!
It would be different if more people came,
For then there would be business. As it is,
The cottages Len built, sometimes we rent them,
Sometimes we don't. We've a good piece of shore
That ought to be worth something, and may yet.
But I don't count on it as much as Len.
He looks on the bright side of everything,
Including me. He thinks I'll be all right
With doctoring. But it's not medicine--
Lowe is the only doctor's dared to say so--
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.
By good rights I ought not to have so much
Put on me, but there seems no other way.
Len says one steady pull more ought to do it.
He says the best way out is always through.
And I agree to that, or in so far
As that I can see no way out but through--
Leastways for me--and then they'll be convinced.
It's not that Len don't want the best for me.
It was his plan our moving over in
Beside the lake from where that day I showed you
We used to live--ten miles from anywhere.
We didn't change without some sacrifice,
But Len went at it to make up the loss.
His work's a man's, of course, from sun to sun,
But he works when he works as hard as I do--
Though there's small profit in comparisons.
(Women and men will make them all the same.)
But work ain't all. Len undertakes too much.
He's into everything in town. This year
It's highways, and he's got too many men
Around him to look after that make waste.
They take advantage of him shamefully,
And proud, too, of themselves for doing so.
We have four here to board, great good-for-nothings,
Sprawling about the kitchen with their talk
While I fry their bacon. Much they care!
No more put out in what they do or say
Than if I wasn't in the room at all.
Coming and going all the time, they are:
I don't learn what their names are, let alone
Their characters, or whether they are safe
To have inside the house with doors unlocked.
I'm not afraid of them, though, if they're not
Afraid of me. There's two can play at that.
I have my fancies: it runs in the family.
My father's brother wasn't right. They kept him
Locked up for years back there at the old farm.
I've been away once--yes, I've been away.
The State Asylum. I was prejudiced;
I wouldn't have sent anyone of mine there;
You know the old idea--the only asylum
Was the poorhouse, and those who could afford,
Rather than send their folks to such a place,
Kept them at home; and it does seem more human.
But it's not so: the place is the asylum.
There they have every means proper to do with,
And you aren't darkening other people's lives--
Worse than no good to them, and they no good
To you in your condition; you can't know
Affection or the want of it in that state.
I've heard too much of the old-fashioned way.
My father's brother, he went mad quite young.
Some thought he had been bitten by a dog,
Because his violence took on the form
Of carrying his pillow in his teeth;
But it's more likely he was crossed in love,
Or so the story goes. It was some girl.
Anyway all he talked about was love.
They soon saw he would do someone a mischief
If he wa'n't kept strict watch of, and it ended
In father's building him a sort of cage,
Or room within a room, of hickory poles,
Like stanchions in the barn, from floor to ceiling,--
A narrow passage all the way around.
Anything they put in for furniture
He'd tear to pieces, even a bed to lie on.
So they made the place comfortable with straw,
Like a beast's stall, to ease their consciences.
Of course they had to feed him without dishes.
They tried to keep him clothed, but he paraded
With his clothes on his arm--all of his clothes.
Cruel--it sounds. I 'spose they did the best
They knew. And just when he was at the height,
Father and mother married, and mother came,
A bride, to help take care of such a creature,
And accommodate her young life to his.
That was what marrying father meant to her.
She had to lie and hear love things made dreadful
By his shouts in the night. He'd shout and shout
Until the strength was shouted out of him,
And his voice died down slowly from exhaustion.
He'd pull his bars apart like bow and bow-string,
And let them go and make them twang until
His hands had worn them smooth as any ox-bow.
And then he'd crow as if he thought that child's play--
The only fun he had. I've heard them say, though,
They found a way to put a stop to it.
He was before my time--I never saw him;
But the pen stayed exactly as it was
There in the upper chamber in the ell,
A sort of catch-all full of attic clutter.
I often think of the smooth hickory bars.
It got so I would say--you know, half fooling--
"It's time I took my turn upstairs in jail"--
Just as you will till it becomes a habit.
No wonder I was glad to get away.
Mind you, I waited till Len said the word.
I didn't want the blame if things went wrong.
I was glad though, no end, when we moved out,
And I looked to be happy, and I was,
As I said, for a while--but I don't know!
Somehow the change wore out like a prescription.
And there's more to it than just window-views
And living by a lake. I'm past such help--
Unless Len took the notion, which he won't,
And I won't ask him--it's not sure enough.
I 'spose I've got to go the road I'm going:
Other folks have to, and why shouldn't I?
I almost think if I could do like you,
Drop everything and live out on the ground--
But it might be, come night, I shouldn't like it,
Or a long rain. I should soon get enough,
And be glad of a good roof overhead.
I've lain awake thinking of you, I'll warrant,
More than you have yourself, some of these nights.
The wonder was the tents weren't snatched away
From over you as you lay in your beds.
I haven't courage for a risk like that.
Bless you, of course, you're keeping me from work,
But the thing of it is, I need to be kept.
There's work enough to do--there's always that;
But behind's behind. The worst that you can do
Is set me back a little more behind.
I sha'n't catch up in this world, anyway.
I'd rather you'd not go unless you must.

________________________________________



DIRECTIVE

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
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the
weather,
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.
The road there, if you'll let a guide direct you
Who only has at heart your getting lost,
May seem as if it should have been a
quarry—
Great monolithic knees the former town
Long since gave up pretense of keeping
covered.
And there's a story in a book about it:
Besides the wear of iron wagon wheels
The ledges show lines ruled southeast-
northwest,
The chisel work of an enormous Glacier
That braced his feet against the Arctic Pole.
You must not mind a certain coolness from
him
Still said to haunt this side of Panther Mountain.
Nor need you mind the serial ordeal
Of being watched from forty cellar holes
As if by eye pairs out of forty firkins.
As for the woods' excitement over you
That sends light rustle rushes to their leaves,
Charge that to upstart inexperience.
Where were they all not twenty years ago?
They think too much of having shaded out
A few old pecker-fretted apple trees.
Make yourself up a cheering song of how
Someone's road home from work this once
was,
Who may be just ahead of you on foot
Or creaking with a buggy load of grain.
The height of the adventure is the height
Of country where two village cultures faded
Into each other. Both of them are lost.
And if you're lost enough to find yourself
By now, pull in your ladder road behind you
And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.
Then make yourself at home. The only field
Now left's no bigger than a harness gall.
First there's the children's house of
make-believe,
Some shattered dishes underneath a pine,
The playthings in the playhouse of the
children.
Weep for what little things could make
them glad.
Then for the house that is no more a house,
But only a belilaced cellar hole,
Now slowly closing like a dent in dough.
This was no playhouse but a house in
earnest.
Your destination and your destiny's
A brook that was the water of the house,
Cold as a spring as yet so near its source,
Too lofty and original to rage.
(We know the valley streams that when
aroused
Will leave their tatters hung on barb and
thorn.)
I have kept hidden in the instep arch
Of an old cedar at the waterside
A broken drinking goblet like the Grail
Under a spell so the wrong ones can't find it,
So can't get saved, as Saint Mark says
they mustn't.
(I stole the goblet from the children's
playhouse.)
Here are your waters and your watering
place.
Drink and be whole again beyond confusion


________________________________________


Neither Out Far Nor In Deep

The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.

As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be--
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?


________________________________________



Provide, Provide

The witch that came (the withered hag)
To wash the steps with pail and rag
Was once the beauty Abishag,

The picture pride of Hollywood.
Too many fall from great and good
For you to doubt the likelihood.

Die early and avoid the fate.
Or if predestined to die late,
Make up your mind to die in state.

Make the whole stock exchange your own!
If need be occupy a throne,
Where nobody can call you crone.

Some have relied on what they knew,
Others on being simply true.
What worked for them might work for you.

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!


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-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
A luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.



________________________________________

The Most of It

He thought he kept the universe alone;
For all the voice in answer he could wake
Was but the mocking echo of his own
From some tree–hidden cliff across the lake.
Some morning from the boulder–broken beach
He would cry out on life, that what it wants
Is not its own love back in copy speech,
But counter–love, original response.
And nothing ever came of what he cried
Unless it was the embodiment that crashed
In the cliff's talus on the other side,
And then in the far distant water splashed,
But after a time allowed for it to swim,
Instead of proving human when it neared
And someone else additional to him,
As a great buck it powerfully appeared,
Pushing the crumpled water up ahead,
And landed pouring like a waterfall,
And stumbled through the rocks with horny tread,
And forced the underbrush—and that was all.



________________________________________

An Old Man's Winter Night

All out of doors looked darkly in at him
Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,
That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.
What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze
Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.
What kept him from remembering what it was
That brought him to that creaking room was age.
He stood with barrels round him -- at a loss.
And having scared the cellar under him
In clomping there, he scared it once again
In clomping off; -- and scared the outer night,
Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar
Of trees and crack of branches, common things,
But nothing so like beating on a box.
A light he was to no one but himself
Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,
A quiet light, and then not even that.
He consigned to the moon, such as she was,
So late-arising, to the broken moon
As better than the sun in any case
For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,
His icicles along the wall to keep;
And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt
Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,
And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.
One aged man -- one man -- can't keep a house,
A farm, a countryside, or if he can,
It's thus he does it of a winter night.


________________________________________


To Earthward

Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air

That crossed me from sweet things,
The flow of - was it musk
From hidden grapevine springs
Down hill at dusk?

I had the swirl and ache
From sprays of honeysuckle
That when they're gathered shake
Dew on the knuckle.

I craved strong sweets, but those
Seemed strong when I was young;
The petal of the rose
It was that stung.

Now no joy but lacks salt
That is not dashed with pain
And weariness and fault;
I crave the stain

Of tears, the aftermark
Of almost too much love,
The sweet of bitter bark
And burning clove.

When stiff and sore and scarred
I take away my hand
From leaning on it hard
In grass and sand,

The hurt is not enough:
I long for weight and strength
To feel the earth as rough
To all my length.



________________________________________



Spring Pools

These pools that, though in forests, still reflect
The total sky almost without defect,
And like the flowers beside them, chill and shiver,
Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone,
And yet not out by any brook or river,
But up by roots to bring dark foliage on.

The trees that have it in their pent-up buds
To darken nature and be summer woods -
Let them think twice before they use their powers
To blot out and drink up and sweep away
These flowery waters and these watery flowers
From snow that melted only yesterday.



________________________________________
Career

Poet. Held various jobs between college studies, including bobbin boy in a Massachusetts mill, cobbler, editor of a country newspaper, schoolteacher, and farmer. Lived in England, 1912-15. Tufts College, Medford, MA, Phi Beta Kappa poet, 1915 and 1940; Amherst College, Amherst, MA, professor of English and poet-in-residence, 1916-20, 1923-25, and 1926-28; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Phi Beta Kappa poet, 1916 and 1941; Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, co-founder of the Bread-Loaf School and Conference of English, 1920, annual lecturer, beginning 1920; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, professor and poet-in-residence, 1921-23, fellow in letters, 1925-26; Columbia University, New York City, Phi Beta Kappa poet, 1932; Yale University, New Haven, CT, associate fellow, beginning 1933; Harvard University, Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry, 1936, board overseer, 1938-39, Ralph Waldo Emerson Fellow, 1939-41, honorary fellow, 1942-43; associate of Adams House; fellow in American civilization, 1941-42; Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, George Ticknor Fellow in Humanities, 1943-49, visiting lecturer.

Bibliography

POETRY

Twilight, [Lawrence, MA], 1894, reprinted, University of Virginia, 1966.
A Boy's Will, D. Nutt, 1913, Holt, 1915.
North of Boston, D. Nutt, 1914, Holt, 1915, reprinted, Dodd, 1977.
Mountain Interval, Holt, 1916.
New Hampshire, Holt, 1923, reprinted, New Dresden Press, 1955.
Selected Poems, Holt, 1923.
Several Short Poems, Holt, 1924.
West-Running Brook, Holt, 1928.
Selected Poems, Holt, 1928.
The Lovely Shall Be Choosers, Random House, 1929.
The Lone Striker, Knopf, 1933.
Two Tramps in Mud-Time, Holt, 1934.
The Gold Hesperidee, Bibliophile Press, 1935.
Three Poems, Baker Library Press, 1935.
A Further Range, Holt, 1936.
From Snow to Snow, Holt, 1936.
A Witness Tree, Holt, 1942.
A Masque of Reason (verse drama), Holt, 1942.
Steeple Bush, Holt, 1947.
A Masque of Mercy (verse drama), Holt, 1947.
Greece, Black Rose Press, 1948.
Hard Not to Be King, House of Books, 1951.
Aforesaid, Holt, 1954.
The Gift Outright, Holt, 1961.
"Dedication" and "The Gift Outright" (poems read at the presidential inaugural, 1961; published with the inaugural address of J. F. Kennedy), Spiral Press, 1961.
In the Clearing, Holt, 1962.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Dutton, 1978.
Early Poems, Crown, 1981.
A Swinger of Birches: Poems of Robert Frost for Young People (with audiocassette), Stemmer House, 1982.
Spring Pools, Lime Rock Press, 1983.
Birches, illustrated by Ed Young, Holt, 1988.
The Runaway (juvenile poetry), illustrated by Glenna Lang, Godine (Boston, MA), 1996.
Also author of And All We Call American, 1958.


POEMS ISSUED AS CHRISTMAS GREETINGS

Christmas Trees, Spiral Press, 1929.
Neither Out Far Nor In Deep, Holt, 1935.
Everybody's Sanity, [Los Angeles], 1936.
To a Young Wretch, Spiral Press, 1937.
Triple Plate, Spiral Press, 1939.
Our Hold on the Planet, Holt, 1940.
An Unstamped Letter in Our Rural Letter Box, Spiral Press, 1944.
On Making Certain Anything Has Happened, Spiral Press, 1945.
One Step Backward Taken, Spiral Press, 1947.
Closed for Good, Spiral Press, 1948.
On a Tree Fallen Across the Road to Hear Us Talk, Spiral Press, 1949.
Doom to Bloom, Holt, 1950.
A Cabin in the Clearing, Spiral Press, 1951.
Does No One but Me at All Ever Feel This Way in the Least, Spiral Press, 1952.
One More Brevity, Holt, 1953.
From a Milkweed Pod, Holt, 1954.
Some Science Fiction, Spiral Press, 1955.
Kitty Hawk, 1894, Holt, 1956.
My Objection to Being Stepped On, Holt, 1957.
Away, Spiral Press, 1958.
A-Wishing Well, Spiral Press, 1959.
Accidentally on Purpose, Holt, 1960.
The Woodpile, Spiral Press, 1961.
The Prophets Really Prophesy as Mystics, the Commentators Merely by Statistics, Spiral Press, 1962.
The Constant Symbol, [New York], 1962.

COLLECTIONS

Collected Poems of Robert Frost, Holt, 1930, new edition, 1939, reprinted, Buccaneer Books, 1983.
Selected Poems, Holt, 1934, reprinted, 1963.
Come In, and Other Poems, edited by Louis Untermeyer, Holt, 1943, reprinted, F. Watts, 1967, enlarged edition published as The Road Not Taken: An Introduction to Robert Frost, reprinted as The Pocket Book of Robert Frost's Poems, Pocket Books, 1956.
The Poems of Robert Frost, Modern Library, 1946.
You Come Too: Favorite Poems for Young Readers, Holt, 1959, reprinted, 1967.
A Remembrance Collection of New Poems by Robert Frost, Holt, 1959.
Poems, Washington Square Press, 1961.
Longer Poems: The Death of the Hired Man, Holt, 1966.
Selected Prose, edited by Hyde Cox and Edward Connery Lathem, Holt, 1966, reprinted, Collier Books, 1968.
Complete Poems of Robert Frost, Holt, 1968.
The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Lathem, Holt, 1969.
Robert Frost: Poetry and Prose, edited by Lawrence Thompson and Lathem, Holt, 1972.
Selected Poems, edited by Ian Hamilton, Penguin, 1973.
Collected Poems, Plays, and Prose, Library of America (New York, NY), 1995.
Early Frost: The First Three Books, Ecco (Hopewell, NJ), 1996.
Versed in Country Things, edited by Edward Connery Lathem, Little, Brown, 1996.
(With Christopher Burkett) Robert Frost: Seasons, MJF (New York, NY), Books, 1996.
The Robert Frost Reader: Poetry and Prose, edited by Edward Connery Lathem and Lawrance Thompson, Henry Holt (New York, NY), 2002.
Robert Frost, compiled by S. L. Berry, Creative Education (Mankato, MN), 2003.


LETTERS

The Letters of Robert Frost to Louis Untermeyer, Holt, 1963.
Selected Letters, edited by Thompson, Holt, 1964.

OTHER

A Way Out: A One-Act Play, Harbor Press, 1929.
The Cow's in the Corn: A One-Act Irish Play in Rhyme, Slide Mountain Press, 1929.
(Contributor) John Holmes, editor, Writing Poetry, Writer, Inc., 1960.
(Contributor) Milton R. Konvitz and Stephen E. Whicher, editors, Emerson, Prentice-Hall, 1962.
Robert Frost on "Extravagance" (the text of Frost's last college lecture, Dartmouth College, November 27, 1962), [Hanover, NH], 1963.
Robert Frost: A Living Voice (contains speeches by Frost), edited by Reginald Cook, University of Massachusetts Press, 1974.
(With Caroline Ford) The Less Travelled Road, Bern Porter, 1982.
Stories for Lesley, edited by Roger D. Sell, University Press of Virginia, 1984.
Frost's papers are collected at the libraries of the University of Virginia, Amherst College, and Dartmouth College, and the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

Further Reading

BOOKS

Anderson, Margaret, Robert Frost and John Bartlett: The Record of a Friendship, Holt, 1963.
Barry, Elaine, compiler, Robert Frost on Writing, Rutgers University Press, 1973.
Barry, Elaine, Robert Frost, Ungar, 1973.
Bloom, Harold, ed., Robert Frost, Chelsea House Publishers, 1998.
Breit, Harvey, The Writer Observed, World Publishing, 1956.
Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography: The Twenties, 1917-1929, Gale, 1989.
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale, Volume 1, 1973, Volume 3, 1975, Volume 4, 1975, Volume 9, 1978, Volume 10, 1979, Volume 13, 1980, Volume 15, 1980, Volume 26, 1983, Volume 34, 1985, Volume 44, 1987.
Cook, Reginald L., The Dimensions of Robert Frost, Rinehart, 1958.
Cook, Reginald L., Robert Frost: A Living Voice, University of Massachusetts Press, 1974.
Cox, James M., Robert Frost: A Collection of Critical Essays, Prentice-Hall, 1962.
Cox, Sidney, Swinger of Birches: A Portrait of Robert Frost, New York University Press, 1957.
Cramer, Jefferey S., Robert Frost among His Poems: A Literary Companion to the Poet's Own Biographical Contexts and Associations, McFarland (Jefferson, NC), 1996.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 54: American Poets, 1880-1945, Third Series, Gale, 1987.
Dodd, Loring Holmes, Celebrities at Our Hearthside, Dresser, 1959.
Doyle, John R., Jr., Poetry of Robert Frost: An Analysis, Hallier, 1965.
Evans, William R., editor, Robert Frost and Sidney Cox: Forty Years of Friendship, University Press of New England, 1981.
Faggen, Robert, Robert Frost and the Challenge of Darwin, University of Michigan Press, 1997.
Fleissner, Robert F., Frost's Road Taken, Peter Lang (New York), 1996.
Francis, Lesley Lee, The Frost Family's Adventure in Poetry: Sheer Morning Gladness at the Brim, University of Missouri Press (Columbia), 1994.
Francis, Robert, recorder, A Time to Talk: Conversations and Indiscretions, University of Massachusetts Press, 1972.
Frost, Lesley, New Hampshire's Child: Derry Journals of Lesley Frost, State University of New York Press, 1969.
Gerber, Philip L., Robert Frost, Twayne, 1966.
Gould, Jean, Robert Frost: The Aim Was Song, Dodd, 1964.
Grade, Arnold, editor, Family Letters of Robert and Elinor Frost, State University of New York Press, 1972.
Greiner, Donald J., Checklist of Robert Frost, Charles E. Merrill, 1969.
Greiner, Donald J. and Charles Sanders, Robert Frost: The Poet and His Critics, American Library Association, 1974.
Hall, Donald, Remembering Poets, Hater, 1977.
Ingebretsen, Ed, Robert Frost: Star and a Stone Boat: Aspects of a Grammar of Belief, International Scholars Publications (San Francisco), 1994.
Isaacs, Emily Elizabeth, Introduction to Robert Frost, A. Swallow, 1962, reprinted, Haskell House, 1972.
Jarrell, Randall, Poetry and the Age, Vintage, 1955.
Jennings, Elizabeth, Frost, Barnes & Noble, 1966.
Kearns, Katherine, Robert Frost and a Poetics of Appetite, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge, England), 1994.
Kilcup, Karen L., Robert Frost and Feminine Literary Tradition, University of Michigan Press, 1998.
Lathem, Edward C. and Lawrence Thompson, editors, Robert Frost: Farm Poultryman; The Story of Robert Frost's Career As a Breeder and Fancier of Hens, Dartmouth Publishers, 1963.
Lathem, Edward C., editor, Interviews with Robert Frost, Rinehart, 1966.
Lathem, Edward C., editor, A Concordance to the Poetry of Robert Frost, Holt Information Systems, 1971.
Lentriccia, Frank, Robert Frost: Modern Poetics and the Landscapes of Self, Duke University Press, 1975.
Lowell, Amy, Tendencies in Modern American Poetry, Macmillan, 1917.
Maxson, H.A., On the Sonnets of Robert Frost, McFarland and Co., 1997.
Mertins, Marshall Louis and Esther Mertins, Intervals of Robert Frost: A Critical Bibliography, University of California Press, 1947, reprinted, Russell, 1975.
Mertins, Marshall Louis, Robert Frost: Life and Talks— Walking, University of Oklahoma Press, 1965.
Meyers, Jeffrey, Robert Frost: A Biography, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1996.
Muir, Helen, Frost in Florida: A Memoir, Valiant Press (Miami), 1995.
Munson, Gorham B., Robert Frost: A Study in Sensibility and Good Sense, G. H. Doran, 1927, reprinted, Haskell House, 1969.
Newdick, Robert Spangler, Newdick's Season of Frost: An Interrupted Biography of Robert Frost, edited by William A. Sutton, State University of New York Press, 1976.
Orton, Vrest, Vermont Afternoons with Robert Frost, Tuttle, 1971.
Pearce, Roy Harvey, The Continuity of American Poetry, Princeton, 1961.
Poirier, Richard, Robert Frost, Oxford University Press, 1977.
Pound, Ezra, The Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, New Directions, 1954.
Pritchard, William H., Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered, Oxford University Press, 1984.
Reeve, Franklin D., Robert Frost in Russia, Little, Brown, 1964.
Richardson, Mark, The Ordeal of Robert Frost: The Poet and His Poetics, University of Illinois Press, 1997.
Rosenthal, M. L., The Modern Poets, Oxford University Press, 1965.
Shepley, Elizabeth, Robert Frost: The Trial by Existence, Holt, 1960.
Sohn, David A. and Richard Tyre, Frost: The Poet and His Poetry, Holt, 1967.
Spiller, Robert E. and others, Literary History of the United States, 4th revised edition, Macmillan, 1974.
Squires, Radcliffe, Major Themes of Robert Frost, University of Michigan Press, 1969.
Tharpe, Jac, editor, Frost: Centennial Essays II, University Press of Mississippi, 1976.
Thompson, Lawrence, Fire and Ice: The Art and Thought of Robert Frost, Holt, 1942, reprinted, Russell, 1975.
Thompson, Lawrence, Robert Frost, University of Minnesota Press, 1959.
Thompson, Lawrence, editor, Selected Letters of Robert Frost, Holt, 1964.
Thompson, Lawrence, Robert Frost: The Early Years, 1874-1915, Holt, 1966.
Thompson, Lawrence, Robert Frost: The Years of Triumph, 1915-1938, Holt, 1970.
Thompson, Lawrence and R. H. Winnick, Robert Frost: The Later Years, 1938-1963, Holt, 1976.
Tutein, David W., Robert Frost's Reading: An Annotated Bibliography, Edwin Mellen, 1997.
Unger, Leonard and William Van O'Connor, Poems for Study, Holt, 1953.
Untermeyer, Louis, Makers of the Modern World, Simon & Schuster, 1955.
Untermeyer, Louis, Lives of the Poets, Simon & Schuster, 1959.
Untermeyer, Louis, Robert Frost: A Backward Look, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1964.
Van Egmond, Peter, The Critical Reception of Robert Frost, G. K. Hall, 1974.
Waggoner, Hyatt H., American Poetry from the Puritans to the Present, Houghton, 1968.
Wagner, Linda Welshimer, editor, Robert Frost: The Critical Reception, B. Franklin, 1977.
West, Herbert Faulkner, Mind on the Wing, Coward, 1947.
Wilcox, Earl J., His "Incalculable" Influence on Others: Essays on Robert Frost in Our Time, English Literary Studies, University of Victoria (Victoria, British Columbia), 1994.
Winters, Yvor, The Function of Criticism, A. Swallow, 1957.

PERIODICALS

America, December 24, 1977.
American Literature, January, 1948.
Atlantic, February, 1964, November, 1966.
Bookman, January, 1924.
Books, May 10, 1942.
Boston Transcript, December 2, 1916.
Commonweal, May 4, 1962, April 1, 1977.
New Republic, February 20, 1915.
New York Herald Tribune, November 18, 1928.
New York Times, October 19, 1986.
New York Times Book Review, July 17, 1988.
New York Times Magazine, June 11, 1972; August 18, 1974.
Poetry, May, 1913.
Saturday Review of Literature, May 30, 1936; April 25, 1942.
South Atlantic Quarterly, summer, 1958.
Times Literary Supplement, December 14, 1967.
Virginia Quarterly Review, summer, 1957.
Wisconsin Library Bulletin, July, 1962.
Yale Review, spring, 1934, summer, 1948.



PERIODICALS

Current Biography, March, 1963.
Illustrated London News, February 9, 1963.
Newsweek, February 11, 1963.
New York Times, January 30, 1963.
Publishers Weekly, February 11, 1963.




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