POEMS BY ROBERT FROST

Robert Frost (1874-1963) is one of Americaís best known poets. He is intimately associated with the New England region, where he was enriched by his experience of living in the countryside and absorbing many of the lifeways and manners of its people. He eventually made his living as a college professor, inspiring new generations of poets and literature-lovers with his work and teaching. He also won four Pulitzer prizes for his collections of poetry (New Hampshire, 1924; Collected Poems, 1931; A Further Range, 1937; and A Witness Tree, 1943.) Outwardly simple, his poems sneak substantial depth and understanding of life into what seem, at first, to be merely folkloric tales garnered from the New England landscape and observations of nature. As of the time of this posting (2007), not all of Frostís poetry has entered into the public domain. Following are some of his most famous poems, which have.

 

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

The Road Not Taken

Mending Wall

Birches

Fire And Ice

Nothing Gold Can Stay

 

 

Stopping By 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 soundís 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.

 

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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 Ė

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

 

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Mending Wall

 

Something there is that doesnít 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 neighbor 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? Isnít it

Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall Iíd ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,

And to whom I was like to give offence.

Something there is that doesnít love a wall,

That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,

But itís not elves exactly, and Iíd 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 fatherís saying,

And he likes having thought of it so well

He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours."

 

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Birches

 

When I see birches bend left to right

Across the line of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boyís been swinging them.

But swinging doesnít 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 sunís warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust Ė

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

Youíd 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 so 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

I should prefer to have some boy bend them

As he went out and in to fetch the cows Ė

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 fatherís 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.

Itís when Iím 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 twigís having lashed across it open.

Iíd 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. Earthís the right place for love:

I donít know whereí itís likely to go better.

Iíd 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.

 

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Fire And Ice

 

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what Iíve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.

 

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Nothing Gold Can Stay

 

Natureís first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leafís 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.

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