Robert Frost

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    Biographical information

  1. A Boundless Moment
  2. A Brook In The City
  3. A Cliff Dwelling
  4. A Considerable Speck
  5. A Dream Pang
  6. A Late Walk
  7. A Line-Storm Song
  8. A Minor Bird
  9. A Patch Of Old Snow
  10. A Prayer In Spring
  11. A Question
  12. A Servant To Servants
  13. A Soldier
  14. A Time To Talk
  15. Acquainted With The Night
  16. After Apple Picking
  17. An Old Man's Winter Night
  18. Asking For Roses
  19. Bereft
  20. Blueberries
  21. Bond And Free
  22. But Outer Space
  23. Canis Major
  24. Carpe Diem
  25. Christmas Trees
  26. Come In
  27. Departmental
  28. Desert Places
  29. Design
  30. Devotion
  31. Dust Of Snow
  32. Evening In A Sugar Orchard
  33. Fire and Ice
  34. Fireflies In The Garden
  35. For Once, Then, Something
  36. Fragmentary Blue
  37. Gathering Leaves
  38. Going For Water
  39. Good Bye and Keep Cold
  40. Hannibal
  41. I Slumbered With Your Poems On My Breast
  42. In A Poem
  43. Into My Own
  44. Iris By Night
  45. Love And A Question
  46. Meeting And Passing
  47. My November Guest
  48. Neither Out Far Nor In Deep
  49. Never Again Would Bird's Song Be the Same
  50. Not To Keep
  51. Nothing Gold Can Stay
  52. Now Close The Windows
  53. Out, Out
  54. Stars
  55. Spoils Of The Dead
  56. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Night
  57. The Dead Of The Hired Man
  58. The Fear
  59. The Road Not Taken
  60. The Wood-Pile




    Biographical information

      Name: Robert Lee Frost
      Place and date of birth: San Francisco, California (United States); March 26, 1874
      Place and date of death: Boston, Massachusetts (United States); January 29, 1963 (aged 88)

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      A Boundless Moment

        He halted in the wind, and -- what was that
        Far in the maples, pale, but not a ghost?
        He stood there bringing March against his thought,
        And yet too ready to believe the most.

        "Oh, that's the Paradise-in-bloom," I said;
        And truly it was fair enough for flowers
        had we but in us to assume in march
        Such white luxuriance of May for ours.

        We stood a moment so in a strange world,
        Myself as one his own pretense deceives;
        And then I said the truth (and we moved on).
        A young beech clinging to its last year's leaves.

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      A Brook In The City

        The farmhouse 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,
        The thoughts may not have risen that so keep
        This new-built city from both work and sleep.

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      A Cliff Dwelling

        There sandy seems the golden sky
        And golden seems the sandy plain.
        No habitation meets the eye
        Unless in the horizon rim,
        Some halfway up the limestone wall,
        That spot of black is not a stain
        Or shadow, but a cavern hole,
        Where someone used to climb and crawl
        To rest from his besetting fears.
        I see the callus on his soul
        The disappearing last of him
        And of his race starvation slim,
        Oh years ago - ten thousand years.

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      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.

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      A Dream Pang

        I had withdrawn in forest, and my song
        Was swallowed up in leaves that blew alway;
        And to the forest edge you came one day
        (This was my dream) and looked and pondered long,
        But did not enter, though the wish was strong:
        You shook your pensive head as who should say,
        ‘I dare not—too far in his footsteps stray—
        He must seek me would he undo the wrong.

        Not far, but near, I stood and saw it all
        Behind low boughs the trees let down outside;
        And the sweet pang it cost me not to call
        And tell you that I saw does still abide.
        But ’tis not true that thus I dwelt aloof,
        For the wood wakes, and you are here for proof.

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      A Late Walk

        When I go up through the mowing field,
        The headless aftermath,
        Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
        Half closes the garden path.

        And when I come to the garden ground,
        The whir of sober birds
        Up from the tangle of withered weeds
        Is sadder than any words

        A tree beside the wall stands bare,
        But a leaf that lingered brown,
        Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
        Comes softly rattling down.

        I end not far from my going forth
        By picking the faded blue
        Of the last remaining aster flower
        To carry again to you.

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      A Line-Storm Song

        The line-storm clouds fly tattered and swift,
        The road is forlorn all day,
        Where a myriad snowy quartz stones lift,
        And the hoof-prints vanish away.
        The roadside flowers, too wet for the bee,
        Expend their bloom in vain.
        Come over the hills and far with me,
        And be my love in the rain.

        The birds have less to say for themselves
        In the wood-world’s torn despair
        Than now these numberless years the elves,
        Although they are no less there:
        All song of the woods is crushed like some
        Wild, easily shattered rose.
        Come, be my love in the wet woods; come,
        Where the boughs rain when it blows.

        There is the gale to urge behind
        And bruit our singing down,
        And the shallow waters aflutter with wind
        From which to gather your gown.
        What matter if we go clear to the west,
        And come not through dry-shod?
        For wilding brooch shall wet your breast
        The rain-fresh goldenrod.

        Oh, never this whelming east wind swells
        But it seems like the sea’s return
        To the ancient lands where it left the shells
        Before the age of the fern;
        And it seems like the time when after doubt
        Our love came back amain.
        Oh, come forth into the storm and rout
        And be my love in the rain.

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      A Minor Bird

        I have wished a bird would fly away,
        And not sing by my house all day;

        Have clapped my hands at him from the door
        When it seemed as if I could bear no more.

        The fault must partly have been in me.
        The bird was not to blame for his key.

        And of course there must be something wrong
        In wanting to silence any song.

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      A Patch Of Old Snow

        There's a patch of old snow in a corner
        That I should have guessed
        Was a blow-away paper the rain
        Had brought to rest.

        It is speckled with grime as if
        Small print overspread it,
        The news of a day I've forgotten --
        If I ever read it.

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      A Prayer In Spring

        Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
        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 fulfil.

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      A Question

        A voice said, Look me in the stars
        And tell me truly, men of earth,
        If all the soul-and-body scars
        Were not too much to pay for birth.

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      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.

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      A Soldier

        He is that fallen lance that lies as hurled,
        That lies unlifted now, come dew, come rust,
        But still lies pointed as it plowed the dust.
        If we who sight along it round the world,
        See nothing worthy to have been its mark,
        It is because like men we look too near,
        Forgetting that as fitted to the sphere,
        Our missiles always make too short an arc.
        They fall, they rip the grass, they intersect
        The curve of earth, and striking, break their own;
        They make us cringe for metal-point on stone.
        But this we know, the obstacle that checked
        And tripped the body, shot the spirit on
        Further than target ever showed or shone.

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      A Time To Talk

        When a friend calls to me from the road
        And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
        I don't stand still and look around
        On all the hills I haven't hoed,
        And shout from where I am, What is it?
        No, not as there is a time to talk.
        I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
        Blade-end up and five feet tall,
        And plod: I go up to the stone wall
        For a friendly visit.

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      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.

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      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 shake the shimmer from my sight
        I got from looking through a pane of glass
        I skimmed this morning from the water-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 reappear,
        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.
        And I keep hearing from the cellar-bin
        That 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.

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      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.

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      Asking For Roses

        A house that lacks, seemingly, mistress and master,
        With doors that none but the wind ever closes,
        Its floor all littered with glass and with plaster;
        It stands in a garden of old-fashioned roses.

        I pass by that way in the gloaming with Mary;
        'I wonder,' I say, 'who the owner of those is.'
        'Oh, no one you know,' she answers me airy,
        'But one we must ask if we want any roses.'

        So we must join hands in the dew coming coldly
        There in the hush of the wood that reposes,
        And turn and go up to the open door boldly,
        And knock to the echoes as beggars for roses.

        'Pray, are you within there, Mistress Who-were-you?'
        'Tis Mary that speaks and our errand discloses.
        'Pray, are you within there? Bestir you, bestir you!
        'Tis summer again; there's two come for roses.

        'A word with you, that of the singer recalling--
        Old Herrick: a saying that every maid knows is
        A flower unplucked is but left to the falling,
        And nothing is gained by not gathering roses.'

        We do not loosen our hands' intertwining
        (Not caring so very much what she supposes),
        There when she comes on us mistily shining
        And grants us by silence the boon of her roses.

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      Bereft

        Where had I heard this wind before
        Change like this to a deeper roar?
        What would it take my standing there for,
        Holding open a restive door,
        Looking down hill to a frothy shore?
        Summer was past and the day was past.
        Sombre clouds in the west were massed.
        Out on the porch's sagging floor,
        Leaves got up in a coil and hissed,
        Blindly striking at my knee and missed.
        Something sinister in the tone
        Told me my secret my 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.

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      Blueberries

        Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
        Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
        In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
        And all ripe together, not some of them green
        And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!

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      Bond And Free

        Love has earth to which she clings
        With hills and circling arms about--
        Wall within wall to shut fear out.
        But Thought has need of no such things,
        For Thought has a pair of dauntless wings.

        On snow and sand and turn, I see
        Where Love has left a printed trace
        With straining in the world's embrace.
        And such is Love and glad to be
        But Thought has shaken his ankles free.

        Thought cleaves the interstellar gloom
        And sits in Sirius' disc all night,
        Till day makes him retrace his flight
        With smell of burning on every plume,
        Back past the sun to an earthly room.

        His gains in heaven are what they are.
        Yet some say Love by being thrall
        And simply staying possesses all
        In several beauty that Thought fares far
        To find fused in another star.

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      But Outer Space

        But outer Space,
        At least this far,
        For all the fuss
        Of the populace
        Stays more popular
        Than populous

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      Canis Major

        The great Overdog
        That heavenly beast
        With a star in one eye
        Gives a leap in the east.
        He dances upright
        All the way to the west
        And never once drops
        On his forefeet to rest.
        I'm a poor underdog,
        But to-night I will bark
        With the great Overdog
        That romps through the dark.

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      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.

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      Christmas Trees

        The city had withdrawn into itself
        And left at last the country to the country;
        When between whirls of snow not come to lie
        And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
        A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
        Yet did in country fashion in that there
        He sat and waited till he drew us out
        A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
        He proved to be the city come again
        To look for something it had left behind
        And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
        He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
        My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
        Where houses all are churches and have spires.
        I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
        I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
        To sell them off their feet to go in cars
        And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
        Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
        I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
        Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
        As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
        Beyond the time of profitable growth,
        The trial by market everything must come to.
        I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
        Then whether from mistaken courtesy
        And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
        From hope of hearing good of what was mine,
        I said, “There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
        “I could soon tell how many they would cut,
        You let me look them over.”

        “You could look.
        But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
        Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
        That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
        Quite solitary and having equal boughs
        All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
        Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
        With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
        I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
        We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
        And came down on the north.
        He said, “A thousand.”

        “A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”

        He felt some need of softening that to me:
        “A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”

        Then I was certain I had never meant
        To let him have them. Never show surprise!
        But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
        The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
        (For that was all they figured out apiece),
        Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
        I should be writing to within the hour
        Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
        Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
        Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
        A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
        Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
        As may be shown by a simple calculation.
        Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
        I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
        In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

      Up

      Come In

        As I came to the edge of the woods,
        Thrush music -- hark!
        Now if it was dusk outside,
        Inside it was dark.

        Too dark in the woods for a bird
        By sleight of wing
        To better its perch for the night,
        Though it still could sing.

        The last of the light of the sun
        That had died in the west
        Still lived for one song more
        In a thrush's breast.

        Far in the pillared dark
        Thrush music went --
        Almost like a call to come in
        To the dark and lament.

        But no, I was out for stars;
        I would not come in.
        I meant not even if asked;
        And I hadn't been.

      Up

      Departmental

        An ant on the tablecloth
        Ran into a dormant moth
        Of many times his size.
        He showed not the least surprise.
        His business wasn't with such.
        He gave it scarcely a touch,
        And was off on his duty run.
        Yet if he encountered one
        Of the hive's enquiry squad
        Whose work is to find out God
        And the nature of time and space,
        He would put him onto the case.
        Ants are a curious race;
        One crossing with hurried tread
        The body of one of their dead
        Isn't given a moment's arrest-
        Seems not even impressed.
        But he no doubt reports to any
        With whom he crosses antennae,
        And they no doubt report
        To the higher-up at court.
        Then word goes forth in Formic:
        'Death's come to Jerry McCormic,
        Our selfless forager Jerry.
        Will the special Janizary
        Whose office it is to bury
        The dead of the commissary
        Go bring him home to his people.
        Lay him in state on a sepal.
        Wrap him for shroud in a petal.
        Embalm him with ichor of nettle.
        This is the word of your Queen.'
        And presently on the scene
        Appears a solemn mortician;
        And taking formal position,
        With feelers calmly atwiddle,
        Seizes the dead by the middle,
        And heaving him high in air,
        Carries him out of there.
        No one stands round to stare.
        It is nobody else's affair
        It couldn't be called ungentle
        But how thoroughly departmental

      Up

      Desert Places

        Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
        In a field I looked into going past,
        And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
        But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

        The woods around it have it - it is theirs.
        All animals are smothered in their lairs.
        I am too absent-spirited to count;
        The loneliness includes me unawares.

        And lonely as it is, that loneliness
        Will be more lonely ere it will be less -
        A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
        WIth no expression, nothing to express.

        They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
        Between stars - on stars where no human race is.
        I have it in me so much nearer home
        To scare myself with my own desert places.

      Up

      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 a 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 appall?--
        If design govern in a thing so small.

      Up

      Devotion

        The heart can think of no devotion
        Greater than being shore to ocean -
        Holding the curve of one position,
        Counting an endless repetition.

      Up

      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.

      Up

      Evening In A Sugar Orchard

        From where I lingered in a lull in march
        outside the sugar-house one night for choice,
        I called the fireman with a careful voice
        And bade him leave the pan and stoke the arch:
        'O fireman, give the fire another stoke,
        And send more sparks up chimney with the smoke.'
        I thought a few might tangle, as they did,
        Among bare maple boughs, and in the rare
        Hill atmosphere not cease to glow,
        And so be added to the moon up there.
        The moon, though slight, was moon enough to show
        On every tree a bucket with a lid,
        And on black ground a bear-skin rug of snow.
        The sparks made no attempt to be the moon.
        They were content to figure in the trees
        As Leo, Orion, and the Pleiades.
        And that was what the boughs were full of soon.

      Up

      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.

      Up

      Fireflies In The Garden

        Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
        And here on earth come emulating flies,
        That though they never equal stars in size,
        (And they were never really stars at heart)
        Achieve at times a very star-like start.
        Only, of course, they can't sustain the part.

      Up

      For Once, Then, Something

        Others taught me with having knelt at well-curbs
        Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
        Deeper down in the well than where the water
        Gives me back in a shining surface picture
        Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
        Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
        Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
        I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
        Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
        Something more of the depths--and then I lost it.
        Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
        One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
        Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
        Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
        Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

      Up

      Fragmentary Blue

        Why make so much of fragmentary blue
        In here and there a bird, or butterfly,
        Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,
        When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?

        Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet)--
        Though some savants make earth include the sky;
        And blue so far above us comes so high,
        It only gives our wish for blue a whet.

      Up

      Gathering Leaves

        Spades take up leaves
        No better than spoons,
        And bags full of leaves
        Are light as balloons.

        I make a great noise
        Of rustling all day
        Like rabbit and deer
        Running away.

        But the mountains I raise
        Elude my embrace,
        Flowing over my arms
        And into my face.

        I may load and unload
        Again and again
        Till I fill the whole shed,
        And what have I then?

        Next to nothing for weight,
        And since they grew duller
        From contact with earth,
        Next to nothing for color.

        Next to nothing for use.
        But a crop is a crop,
        And who's to say where
        The harvest shall stop?

      Up

      Going For Water

        The well was dry beside the door,
        And so we went with pail and can
        Across the fields behind the house
        To seek the brook if still it ran;
        Not loth to have excuse to go,
        Because the autumn eve was fair
        (Though chill), because the fields were ours,
        And by the brook our woods were there.

        We ran as if to meet the moon
        That slowly dawned behind the trees,
        The barren boughs without the leaves,
        Without the birds, without the breeze.

        But once within the wood, we paused
        Like gnomes that hid us from the moon,
        Ready to run to hiding new
        With laughter when she found us soon.

        Each laid on other a staying hand
        To listen ere we dared to look,
        And in the hush we joined to make
        We heard, we knew we heard the brook.

        A note as from a single place,
        A slender tinkling fall that made
        Now drops that floated on the pool
        Like pearls, and now a silver blade.

      Up

      Good Bye And Keep Cold

        This saying goodbye on the edge of the dark
        And cold to an orchard so young in the bark
        Reminds me of all that can happen to harm
        An orchard away at the end of the farm
        All winter, cut off by a hill from the house.
        I don't want it girdled by rabbit and mouse,
        I don't want it dreamily nibbled for browse
        By deer, and I don't want it budded by grouse.
        (If certain it wouldn't be idle to call
        I'd summon grouse, rabbit, and deer to the wall
        And warn them away with a stick for a gun).

        I don't want it stirred by the heat of the sun.
        (We made it secure against being, I hope,
        By setting it out on a northerly slope).
        No orchard's the worse for the wintriest storm;
        But one thing about it, it mustn't get warm.
        'How often already you've had to be told,
        Keep cold, young orchard. Goodbye and keep cold.
        Dread fifty above more than fifty below'.

        I have to be gone for a season or so.
        My business awhile is with different trees,
        Less carefully nourished, less fruitful than these,
        And such as is done to their wood with an axe,
        Maples and birches and tamaracks.
        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.

      Up

      Hannibal

        Was there even a cause too lost,
        Ever a cause that was lost too long,
        Or that showed with the lapse of time to vain
        For the generous tears of youth and song?

      Up

      In A Poem

        The sentencing goes blithely on its way
        And takes the playfully objected rhyme
        As surely as it takes the stroke and time
        In having its undeviable say.

      Up

      I Slumbered with your Poems on my Breast

        I slumbered with your poems on my breast
        Spread open as I dropped them halfread through
        Like dove wings on a figure on a tomb
        To see, if in a dream they brought of you.

        I might not have the chance I missed in life
        Through some delay, and call you to your face
        First soldier, and then poet, and then both,
        Who died a soldierpoet of your race.

        I meant, you meant, that nothing should remain
        Unsaid between us, brother, and this remained,
        And one thing more that was not then to say:
        The Victory for what it lost and gained.

        You went to meet the shell's embrace of fire
        On Vimy Ridge; and when you fell that day
        The war seemed over more for you than me,
        But now for me than youthe other way.

        How over, though, for even me who knew
        The foe thrust back unsafe beyond the Rhine,
        If I was not to speak of it to you
        And see you pleased once more with words of mine?

      Up

      Into My Own

        One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
        So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
        Were not, as 'twere, the merest mask of gloom,
        But stretched away unto the edge of doom.

        I should not be withheld but that some day
        into their vastness I should steal away,
        Fearless of ever finding open land,
        or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

        I do not see why I should e'er turn back,
        Or those should not set forth upon my track
        To overtake me, who should miss me here
        And long to know if still I held them dear.

        They would not find me changed from him they knew--
        Only more sure of all I though was true.

      Up

      Iris By Night

        One misty evening, one another's guide,
        We two were groping down a Malvern side
        The last wet fields and dripping hedges home.
        There came a moment of confusing lights,
        Such as according to belief in Rome
        Were seen of old at Memphis on the heights
        Before the fragments of a former sun
        Could concentrate anew and rise as one.
        Light was a paste of pigment in our eyes.
        And then there was a moon and then a scene
        So watery as to seem submarine;
        In which we two stood saturated, drowned.
        The clover-mingled rowan on the ground
        Had taken all the water it could as dew,
        And still the air was saturated too,
        Its airy pressure turned to water weight.
        Then a small rainbow like a trellis gate,
        A very small moon-made prismatic bow,
        Stood closely over us through which to go.
        And then we were vouchsafed a miracle
        That never yet to other two befell
        And I alone of us have lived to tell.
        A wonder! Bow and rainbow as it bent,
        Instead of moving with us as we went
        (To keep the pots of gold from being found),
        It lifted from its dewy pediment
        Its two mote-swimming many-colored ends
        And gathered them together in a ring.
        And we stood in it softly circled round
        From all division time or foe can bring
        In a relation of elected friends.

      Up

      Love And A Question

        A stranger came to the door at eve,
        And he spoke the bridegroom fair.
        He bore a green-white stick in his hand,
        And, for all burden, care.
        He asked with the eyes more than the lips
        For a shelter for the night,
        And he turned and looked at the road afar
        Without a window light.

        The bridegroom came forth into the porch
        With, 'Let us look at the sky,
        And question what of the night to be,
        Stranger, you and I.'
        The woodbine leaves littered the yard,
        The woodbine berries were blue,
        Autumn, yes, winter was in the wind;
        'Stranger, I wish I knew.'

        Within, the bride in the dusk alone
        Bent over the open fire,
        Her face rose-red with the glowing coal
        And the thought of the heart's desire.

        The bridegroom looked at the weary road,
        Yet saw but her within,
        And wished her heart in a case of gold
        And pinned with a silver pin.

        The bridegroom thought it little to give
        A dole of bread, a purse,
        A heartfelt prayer for the poor of God,
        Or for the rich a curse;

        But whether or not a man was asked
        To mar the love of two
        By harboring woe in the bridal house,
        The bridegroom wished he knew.

      Up

      Meeting And Passing

        As I went down the hill along the wall
        There was a gate I had leaned at for the view
        And had just turned from when I first saw you
        As you came up the hill. We met. But all
        We did that day was mingle great and small
        Footprints in summer dust as if we drew
        The figure of our being less that two
        But more than one as yet. Your parasol
        Pointed the decimal off with one deep thrust.
        And all the time we talked you seemed to see
        Something down there to smile at in the dust.
        (Oh, it was without prejudice to me!)
        Afterward I went past what you had passed
        Before we met and you what I had passed.

      Up

      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 grey
        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,
        And they are better for her praise

      Up

      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.
        Btu when was that ever a bar
        To any watch they keep?

      Up

      Never Again Would Bird's Song Be the Same

        He would declare and could himself believe
        That the birds there in all the garden round
        From having heard the daylong voice of Eve
        Had added to their own an oversound,
        Her tone of meaning but without the words.
        Admittedly an eloquence so soft
        Could only have had an influence on birds
        When call or laughter carried it aloft.
        Be that as may be, she was in their song.
        Moreover her voice upon their voices crossed
        Had now persisted in the woods so long
        That probably it never would be lost.
        Never again would birds' song be the same.
        And to do that to birds was why she came.

      Up

      Not To Keep

        They sent him back to her. The letter came
        Saying... And she could have him. And before
        She could be sure there was no hidden ill
        Under the formal writing, he was in her sight,
        Living. They gave him back to her alive
        How else? They are not known to send the dead
        And not disfigured visibly. His face?
        His hands? She had to look, and ask,
        "What was it, dear?" And she had given all
        And still she had all they had they the lucky!
        Wasn’t she glad now? Everything seemed won,
        And all the rest for them permissible ease.
        She had to ask, "What was it, dear?"

        "Enough,"
        Yet not enough. A bullet through and through,
        High in the breast. Nothing but what good care
        And medicine and rest, and you a week,
        Can cure me of to go again." The same
        Grim giving to do over for them both.
        She dared no more than ask him with her eyes
        How was it with him for a second trial.
        And with his eyes he asked her not to ask.
        They had given him back to her, but not to keep.

      Up

      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.

      Up

      Now Close The Windows

        Now close the windows and hush all the fields:
        If the trees must, let them silently toss;
        No bird is singing now, and if there is,
        Be it my loss.

        It will be long ere the marshes resume,
        I will be long ere the earliest bird:
        So close the windows and not hear the wind,
        But see all wind-stirred.

      Up

      Out, Out

        The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard
        And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
        Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
        And from there those that lifted eyes could count
        Five mountain ranges one behind the other
        Under the sunset far into Vermont.
        And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
        As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
        And nothing happened: day was all but done.
        Call it a day, I wish they might have said
        To please the boy by giving him the half hour
        That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
        His sister stood beside them in her apron
        To tell them "Supper." At that word, the saw,
        As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
        Leaped out at the boy's hand, or seemed to leap -
        He must have given the hand. However it was,
        Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
        The boy's first outcry was a rueful laugh,
        As he swung toward them holding up the hand
        Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
        The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all -
        Since he was old enough to know, big boy
        Doing a man's work, though a child at heart -
        He saw all spoiled. "Don't let him cut my hand off -
        The doctor, when he comes. Don't let him, sister!"
        So. But the hand was gone already.
        The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
        He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
        And then - the watcher at his pulse took fright.
        No one believed. They listened at his heart.
        Little - less - nothing! - and that ended it.
        No more to build on there. And they, since they
        Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

      Up

      Stars

        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.

      Up

      Spoils Of The Dead

        Two fairies it was
        On a still summer day
        Came forth in the woods
        With the flowers to play.
        The flowers they plucked
        They cast on the ground
        For others, and those
        For still others they found.
        Flower-guided it was
        That they came as they ran
        On something that lay
        In the shape of a man.
        The snow must have made
        The feathery bed
        When this one fell
        On the sleep of the dead.
        But the snow was gone
        A long time ago,
        And the body he wore
        Nigh gone with the snow.
        The fairies drew near
        And keenly espied
        A ring on his hand
        And a chain at his side.
        They knelt in the leaves
        And eerily played
        With the glittering things,
        And were not afraid.
        And when they went home
        To hide in their burrow,
        They took them along
        To play with to-morrow.
        When you came on death,
        Did you not come flower-guided
        Like the elves in the wood?
        I remember that I did.
        But I recognised death
        With sorrow and dread,
        And I hated and hate
        The spoils of the dead.

      Up

      Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Night

        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.

      Up

      The Death of the Hired Man

        Mary sat musing on the lampflame at the table
        Waiting for Warren. When she heard his step,
        She ran on tiptoe 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 pocketmoney,
        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 barndoor fast asleep,
        A miserable sight, and frightening, too,
        You needn't smileI didn't recognise him,
        I wasn't looking for himand 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 selfrespect.
        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 timeshe made me feel so queer,
        To see if he was talking in his sleep.
        He ran on Harold Wilsonyou 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 educationyou 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 itthat 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 harplike morningglory 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 today.
        Why didn't he go there? His brother's rich,
        A somebodydirector 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 sharpedged chairback.
        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 tonight.
        You'll be surprised at himhow 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 returnedtoo soon, it seemed to her,
        Slipped to her side, caught up her hand and waited.

        'Warren', she questioned.

        'Dead', was all he answered.

      Up

      The Fear

        A lantern light from deeper in the barn
        Shone on a man and woman in the door
        And threw their lurching shadows on a house
        Near by, all dark in every glossy window.
        A horse's hoof pawed once the hollow floor,
        And the back of the gig they stood beside
        Moved in a little. The man grasped a wheel,
        The woman spoke out sharply, 'Whoa, stand still!'
        'I saw it just as plain as a white plate,'
        She said, 'as the light on the dashboard ran
        Along the bushes at the roadside-a man's face.
        You must have seen it too.'
        'I didn't see it.
        Are you sure--'
        'Yes, I'm sure!'
        '-it was a face?'
        'Joel, I'll have to look. I can't go in,
        I can't, and leave a thing like that unsettled.
        Doors locked and curtains drawn will make no difference.
        I always have felt strange when we came home
        To the dark house after so long an absence,
        And the key rattled loudly into place
        Seemed to warn someone to be getting out
        At one door as we entered at another.
        What if I'm right, and someone all the time-
        Don't hold my arm!'
        'I say it's someone passing.'
        'You speak as if this were a travelled road.
        You forget where we are. What is beyond
        That he'd be going to or coming from
        At such an hour of night, and on foot too.
        What was he standing still for in the bushes?'
        'It's not so very late-it's only dark.
        There's more in it than you're inclined to say.
        Did he look like--?'
        'He looked like anyone.
        I'll never rest to-night unless I know.
        Give me the lantern.'
        'You don't want the lantern.'
        She pushed past him and got it for herself.
        'You're not to come,' she said. 'This is my business.
        If the time's come to face it, I'm the one
        To put it the right way. He'd never dare-
        Listen! He kicked a stone. Hear that, hear that!
        He's coming towards us. Joel, go in-please.
        Hark!-I don't hear him now. But please go in.'
        'In the first place you can't make me believe it's--'
        'It is-or someone else he's sent to watch.
        And now's the time to have it out with him
        While we know definitely where he is.
        Let him get off and he'll be everywhere
        Around us, looking out of trees and bushes
        Till I sha'n't dare to set a foot outdoors.
        And I can't stand it. Joel, let me go!'
        'But it's nonsense to think he'd care enough.'
        'You mean you couldn't understand his caring.
        Oh, but you see he hadn't had enough-
        Joel, I won't-I won't-I promise you.
        We mustn't say hard things. You mustn't either.'
        'I'll be the one, if anybody goes!
        But you give him the advantage with this light.
        What couldn't he do to us standing here!
        And if to see was what he wanted, why
        He has seen all there was to see and gone.'
        He appeared to forget to keep his hold,
        But advanced with her as she crossed the grass.
        'What do you want?' she cried to all the dark.
        She stretched up tall to overlook the light
        That hung in both hands hot against her skirt.
        'There's no one; so you're wrong,' he said.
        'There is.-
        What do you want?' she cried, and then herself
        Was startled when an answer really came.
        'Nothing.' It came from well along the road.
        She reached a hand to Joel for support:
        The smell of scorching woollen made her faint.
        'What are you doing round this house at night?'
        'Nothing.' A pause: there seemed no more to say.
        And then the voice again: 'You seem afraid.
        I saw by the way you whipped up the horse.
        I'll just come forward in the lantern light
        And let you see.'
        'Yes, do.-Joel, go back!'
        She stood her ground against the noisy steps
        That came on, but her body rocked a little.
        'You see,' the voice said.
        'Oh.' She looked and looked.
        'You don't see-I've a child here by the hand.'
        'What's a child doing at this time of night--?'
        'Out walking. Every child should have the memory
        Of at least one long-after-bedtime walk.
        What, son?'
        'Then I should think you'd try to find
        Somewhere to walk--'
        'The highway as it happens-
        We're stopping for the fortnight down at Dean's.'
        'But if that's all-Joel-you realize-
        You won't think anything. You understand?
        You understand that we have to be careful.
        This is a very, very lonely place.
        Joel!' She spoke as if she couldn't turn.
        The swinging lantern lengthened to the ground,
        It touched, it struck it, clattered and went out.

      Up

      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.

      Up

      The Wood-Pile

        Out walking in the frozen swamp one grey day
        I paused and said, 'I will turn back from here.
        No, I will go on fartherand we shall see'.
        The hard snow held me, save where now and then
        One foot went down. 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.
        A small bird flew before me. He was careful
        To put a tree between us when he lighted,
        And say no word to tell me who he was
        Who was so foolish as to think what he thought.
        He thought that I was after him for a feather,
        The white one in his tail; like one who takes
        Everything said as personal to himself.
        One flight out sideways would have undeceived him.
        And then there was a pile of wood for which
        I forgot him and let his little fear
        Carry him off the way I might have gone,
        Without so much as wishing him goodnight.
        He went behind it to make his last stand.
        It was a cord of maple, cut and split
        And piledand measured, four by four by eight.
        And not another like it could I see.
        No runner tracks in this year's snow looped near it.
        And it was older sure than this year's cutting,
        Or even last year's or the year's before.
        The wood was grey and the bark warping off it
        And the pile somewhat sunken. Clematis
        Had wound strings round and round it like a bundle.
        What held it though on one side was a tree
        Still growing, and on one a stake and prop,
        These latter about to fall. I thought that only
        Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
        Could so forget his handiwork on which
        He spent himself, the labour of his axe,
        And leave it there far from a useful fireplace
        To warm the frozen swamp as best it could
        With the slow smokeless burning of decay.

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