Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Touch of Frost

Bad poetry is like a clanging bell or a persistent case of tinnitus.
It is perpetually annoying.
Good poetry slows down the spinning gears in our brains,
and offers a moment for quiet and reflection.
But great poetry,  great poetry admits the spirit to a peaceful place,
one that exists somewhere in the spaces between raindrops or snowflakes.

I especially like the writings of Gibran, Tagore, Thoreau, and Robert Frost,
mainly because they seem to understand better than most 
the silent and enduring nexus between nature and spirit.

January 29th, just yesterday, was the 50th anniversary of Robert Frost's death.
I'm not sure which I find more disquieting, that he's gone,
or that he's been gone fifty years now 
but I was around to see him on television during the Kennedy presidency.
Photo Credit:  Associated Press

Anyway, today's a good day to celebrate Frost's poetic gifts
by revisiting some of his verses.
One of his better known is "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"
which contains the following lines, 
the last two said to have been often quoted by President John Kennedy
at the end of his campaign speeches:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep ...

photo courtesy of

Another Frost poem, "War Thoughts at Home" was written in 1918 during WWI 
and discovered in 2006 in the cover of a friend's book,
part of a collection donated to the University of Virginia.
Although the poem is steeped in melancholy and overtones of regret,
the beginning stanzas give a glimpse into a quiet winter day:

On the backside of the house
Where it wears no paint to the weather
And so shows most its age,
Suddenly blue jays rage
And flash in blue feather.

It is late in an afternoon
More gray with snow to fall
Than white with fallen snow
When it is blue jay or crow
Or no bird at all.
By far, my favorite Frost poem is one lesser known,
kind of a poetic "road less traveled."
It's called "Asking for Roses."
I've shared these lines before, but I like them so much, I'm including them again.
The words are deeply meaningful for me,
but I leave it to each reader to measure the words for themselves:

A flower unplucked is but left to the falling,
and nothing is gained by not gathering roses ...


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