Posts Tagged ‘Robert Frost’

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.

After Apple-Picking
By Robert Frost


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“You ought to have seen what I saw on my way
To the village, through Mortenson’s pasture to-day:
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!”“I don’t know what part of the pasture you mean.”“You know where they cut off the woods—let me see—
It was two years ago—or no!—can it be
No longer than that?—and the following fall
The fire ran and burned it all up but the wall.”

“Why, there hasn’t been time for the bushes to grow.
That’s always the way with the blueberries, though:
There may not have been the ghost of a sign
Of them anywhere under the shade of the pine,
But get the pine out of the way, you may burn
The pasture all over until not a fern
Or grass-blade is left, not to mention a stick,
And presto, they’re up all around you as thick
And hard to explain as a conjuror’s trick.”

“It must be on charcoal they fatten their fruit.
I taste in them sometimes the flavour of soot.
And after all really they’re ebony skinned:
The blue’s but a mist from the breath of the wind,
A tarnish that goes at a touch of the hand,
And less than the tan with which pickers are tanned.”“Does Mortenson know what he has, do you think?”“He may and not care and so leave the chewink
To gather them for him—you know what he is.
He won’t make the fact that they’re rightfully his
An excuse for keeping us other folk out.”“I wonder you didn’t see Loren about.”

“The best of it was that I did. Do you know,
I was just getting through what the field had to show
And over the wall and into the road,
When who should come by, with a democrat-load
Of all the young chattering Lorens alive,
But Loren, the fatherly, out for a drive.”

“He saw you, then? What did he do? Did he frown?”

“He just kept nodding his head up and down.
You know how politely he always goes by.
But he thought a big thought—I could tell by his eye—
Which being expressed, might be this in effect:
‘I have left those there berries, I shrewdly suspect,
To ripen too long. I am greatly to blame.'”

“He’s a thriftier person than some I could name.”

“He seems to be thrifty; and hasn’t he need,
With the mouths of all those young Lorens to feed?
He has brought them all up on wild berries, they say,
Like birds. They store a great many away.
They eat them the year round, and those they don’t eat
They sell in the store and buy shoes for their feet.”

“Who cares what they say? It’s a nice way to live,
Just taking what Nature is willing to give,
Not forcing her hand with harrow and plow.”

“I wish you had seen his perpetual bow—
And the air of the youngsters! Not one of them turned,
And they looked so solemn-absurdly concerned.”

“I wish I knew half what the flock of them know
Of where all the berries and other things grow,
Cranberries in bogs and raspberries on top
Of the boulder-strewn mountain, and when they will crop.
I met them one day and each had a flower
Stuck into his berries as fresh as a shower;
Some strange kind—they told me it hadn’t a name.”

“I’ve told you how once not long after we came,
I almost provoked poor Loren to mirth
By going to him of all people on earth
To ask if he knew any fruit to be had
For the picking. The rascal, he said he’d be glad
To tell if he knew. But the year had been bad.
There had been some berries—but those were all gone.
He didn’t say where they had been. He went on:
‘I’m sure—I’m sure’—as polite as could be.
He spoke to his wife in the door, ‘Let me see,
Mame, we don’t know any good berrying place?’
It was all he could do to keep a straight face.

“If he thinks all the fruit that grows wild is for him,
He’ll find he’s mistaken. See here, for a whim,
We’ll pick in the Mortensons’ pasture this year.
We’ll go in the morning, that is, if it’s clear,
And the sun shines out warm: the vines must be wet.
It’s so long since I picked I almost forget
How we used to pick berries: we took one look round,
Then sank out of sight like trolls underground,
And saw nothing more of each other, or heard,
Unless when you said I was keeping a bird
Away from its nest, and I said it was you.
‘Well, one of us is.’ For complaining it flew
Around and around us. And then for a while
We picked, till I feared you had wandered a mile,
And I thought I had lost you. I lifted a shout
Too loud for the distance you were, it turned out,
For when you made answer, your voice was as low
As talking—you stood up beside me, you know.”

“We sha’n’t have the place to ourselves to enjoy—
Not likely, when all the young Lorens deploy.
They’ll be there to-morrow, or even to-night.
They won’t be too friendly—they may be polite—
To people they look on as having no right
To pick where they’re picking. But we won’t complain.
You ought to have seen how it looked in the rain,
The fruit mixed with water in layers of leaves,
Like two kinds of jewels, a vision for thieves.”

Blueberries by Robert Frost

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There is always some room for Frost in Spring.

Robert Frost, that is.

Here is one of his poems, recently featured on The Writer’s Almanac. I find it fitting as we come to the end of National Poetry Month.

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

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

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

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

A Prayer in Spring
by Robert Frost

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IMG_6044The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.

– From the poem Two Tramps in Mudtime”  by Robert Frost

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DSCN6424The leaves are falling fast and furiously here on the Cutoff. With a wind advisory for tomorrow and a slight chance (please let it be slight) of snow, the trees hereabouts will be skeletons of their summer selves for Halloween, so, indulge me, dear reader, as I share one last post of October’s leafy splendor.

These verses are from one of my favorite poems of Robert Frost’s. It is one I’ve posted before. I offer it up once again as we bid farewell to what has been a resplendent fall season.

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.
 From Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost




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DSCN3678The icy air assaulted us as we bid farewell on Michigan Ave. It was a frigid day with  a -8°F wind chill factor. Not a day to be out for the faint of heart, but, we Midwesterners are not the type to swoon over snow and cold. We sally forth with our heads bent to the wind and off we go.

I decided to walk back to Northwestern Station, bidding goodbye to my friends who were heading to the Ogilvie Center for their train after an inspiring lecture, lunch, and the visual excitement that permeates the Art Institute of Chicago. I needed to walk for the exercise. I wanted to walk for a window display that caught my eye earlier.

The walk west on Adams skirts the financial district. Not necessarily an area known for holiday window displays. State Street. Michigan Ave. They are the streets where extravagant visions are a feast for the eyes come December.

Still, something caught my eye, and when a vision  captures my imagination, dear reader, you may know that it captures my heart as well and I’m not usually deterred.

On the corner of what I believe is the Home Insurance Building, windows, lining south and west, held masculine forms that were clad in the most properly arrayed displays of tweed and tartan and wool. Sophisticated dioramas of the aristocratic set, with a dusting of snow and the branches of birches amid silver and leather, wicker and wood.

As the wind was having its way with me, I bent my head to thwart its assault and there, hung low along the plate panes,  were the words of my most favored poem;  Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost.

“Whose woods these are I think I know” were carved in the panes as if etched by a diamond on glass.

“He gives his harness bells a shake . . . ” and there, I swear, was a strop of bells.

My friend, I walked the windows, a bellman at the neighboring Marriott tipping his hat at my determination, and then, bracing against the wind coming round from the Chicago River, trudged to my train, and the miles I had yet to go before home.

Settled into my seat, warmer, I reached into my purse, and discovered my camera. I held it in my hand, just in case a picture came, and it did as the train rolled along its long track, covering the miles toward home.

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Ah, yes; one could do worse. One could be a randy buck, bent on leaving his markings, scraping his rack on a river birch.


We have had this problem before. One year, our Harry Lauder Walking Stick locked horns with a stately stag. The stag won. Old Harry Lauder is but a shell of himself these days.

Another year, not long about having its roots firmly set in the soil, a crabapple, commonly referred to here on the Cutoff as Kezzie’s tree, was the object of jousting during the rut.  Thankfully, it made it through the first winter and this year is covered in fruit.

It was a pleasant afternoon’s saunter to the mailbox that alerted me to the latest antler attack. The afternoon sun was glowing on the bark of the river birch, and a deep red haze appeared. It looked like blood.  Oh dear, thought I, the boys are out and about already, marking their territory, the Don Quixotes of Deerdom.

Tom, aka the antler man, quickly got out the stakes and fencing, protecting his own kingdom of trees.

So it goes, here on the Cutoff, as autumn takes a firm hold and the deer and the antelope play havoc on our wooded domain.



* From “Birches” by Robert Frost

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Two Look at Two

I see him now, often; roaming silently through the brush. Looking out the kitchen windows as I start dinner. Reading the mail. I catch sight of the long tips of the now full rack blending with the barren tips of the tree branches. Often, a doe, rushing past, is the first clue that he, or a brother, is nearby. This king of our little forest is the one I wanted to see, however. Thursday, I finally saw him. Close. Eight points, at least. He was there, in sight,  right off the deck, then behind the garage – just as Tom was coming in the door.

“Buck” I shouted, floundering for my camera. “Big Buck”.

Tom looked at me for an instant, not quite sure what I was saying, then turned. A few yards away, the king of our little forest walked, majestically, past our arbor, in hot pursuit of his mate.

There we were, like Donner and Blitzen, rushing across our drive and into our neighbors’ yard, in equally hot pursuit of the buck. Most of the herd was out, the boys either resting on the ground or off to side, the girls in high anticipation.

We mostly watched him, the king, and we knew him; the Christmas buck of two years past. He had survived! There is now an almost imperceptible limp of the injured leg. Just enough for us to know, it is him. I invite you to read the story of the late night drama in late December that played out in our front yard  to fully understand our excitement at seeing this royal creature again. Be assured,, his rack is kingly, his gait imposing, especially with his slight hesitation. The story is here.

If you click on the pictures twice you can see him. I’m sure he’ll be back, as I’m sure Antler Man will be looking, soon, for the antler sheds.

Two Look at Two by Robert Frost

Love and forgetting might have carried them
A little further up the mountain side
With night so near, but not much further up.
They must have halted soon in any case
With thoughts of a path back, how rough it was
With rock and washout, and unsafe in darkness;
When they were halted by a tumbled wall
With barbed-wire binding. They stood facing this,
Spending what onward impulse they still had
In One last look the way they must not go,
On up the failing path, where, if a stone
Or earthslide moved at night, it moved itself;
No footstep moved it. ‘This is all,’ they sighed,
Good-night to woods.’ But not so; there was more.
A doe from round a spruce stood looking at them
Across the wall, as near the wall as they.
She saw them in their field, they her in hers.
The difficulty of seeing what stood still,
Like some up-ended boulder split in two,
Was in her clouded eyes; they saw no fear there.
She seemed to think that two thus they were safe.
Then, as if they were something that, though strange,
She could not trouble her mind with too long,
She sighed and passed unscared along the wall.
‘This, then, is all. What more is there to ask?’
But no, not yet. A snort to bid them wait.
A buck from round the spruce stood looking at them
Across the wall as near the wall as they.
This was an antlered buck of lusty nostril,
Not the same doe come back into her place.
He viewed them quizzically with jerks of head,
As if to ask, ‘Why don’t you make some motion?
Or give some sign of life? Because you can’t.
I doubt if you’re as living as you look.”
Thus till he had them almost feeling dared
To stretch a proffering hand — and a spell-breaking.
Then he too passed unscared along the wall.
Two had seen two, whichever side you spoke from.
‘This must be all.’ It was all. Still they stood,
A great wave from it going over them,
As if the earth in one unlooked-for favour
Had made them certain earth returned their love.

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Oh, these bright Autumn days!

I find myself looking to Robert Frost’s Birches, perusing old Victoria magazines, and watching You’ve Got Mail. Joe Fox’s email to Kathleen Kelly about Autumn in New York, where he writes that  “I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address”, always makes me want to sharpen a dozen number 2 pencils to perfect points and place them in a vase with a bowl of candy corn nearby.

These crisp Autumn nights, how sweet they are, spending cozy hours rustling through old, battered cookbooks, looking for hearty soups to simmer and muffins to bake.

It is that crunchy time of year along the Cutoff. Time for taffy apples and raking leaves, with the primal chorus of Canadian geese casting passing shadows on the earth below as their lofty caravans migrate south.

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I love both the countryside and the cityscape.

I love New York City and Santa Fe as much as I love country roads and small towns. If there are gardens or forests, prairies or landscapes, mountains or deserts, I find beauty in all. If there is history included, well, I’m as happy as a lark.

Most of our traveling these days are places we can drive to, most often as we trek the 400 miles up north, visiting family there. While I would love to visit my ancestors’ homelands of Greece, Sweden and Germany, Great Britain calls to me as well, as do lands and people Down Under. On and on and on I could go, but, at least for now, my wanderings will be closer to the Cutoff.

There is so much of this world I want to see, so much traveling I do in my mind when I can’t go by rail or air or automobile.

Reminiscent of Robert Frost’s poem, I like to wander the road less traveled

The pictures were taken at one of my favorite places, the Wayside Inn near Concord, MA.

How about you? City or Countryside?

(One more question left, which I’ll try to post in the next few days.)

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. 

From The Road not Taken by Robert Frost

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