Robert Lee Frost (26 March 1874 – 29 January 1963) was an American poet; winner of four Pulitzer Prizes.
Born: March 26th, 1874
Died: January 29th, 1963
Quotes: 167 sourced quotes total (includes 1 disputed)
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The best way out is always through.
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.
Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.
'"Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.'''
The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
The 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.
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.
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 say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.
He saw her from the bottom of the stairs Before she saw him. She was starting down, Looking back over her shoulder at some fear. She took a doubtful step and then undid it To raise herself and look again. He spoke Advancing toward her: "What is it you see From up there always?—for I want to know."
In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on.
In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life — It goes on.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it, And spills the upper boulders in the sun; And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
A man must partly give up being a man With womenfolk. We could have some arrangement By which I'd bind myself to keep hands off Anything special you're a-mind to name. Though I don't like such things 'twixt those that love. Two that don't love can't live together without them. But two that do can't live together with them." She moved the latch a little. "Don't — don't go. Don't carry it to someone else this time. Tell me about it if it's something human. Let me into your grief. I'm not so much Unlike other folks as your standing there Apart would make me out. Give me my chance.
Two such as you with such a master speed Cannot be parted nor be swept away From one another once you are agreed That life is only life forevermore Together wing to wing and oar to oar.
A jury consists of twelve persons chosen to decide who has the better lawyer.
The world is full of willing people; some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know What I was walling in or walling out, And to whom I was like to give offence. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That wants it down.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile And then come back to it and begin over. May no fate willfully misunderstand me And half grant what I wish and snatch me away Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love: I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree, And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, But dipped its top and set me down again. That would be good both going and coming back. One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee And I'll forgive Thy great big one on me.
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.
Writing free verse is like playing tennis with the net down.
A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel.
There was never a sound beside the wood but one, And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.
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.
We dance round in a ring and suppose, But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.
“Men work together,” I told him from the heart, “Whether they work together or apart.”
Most of the change we think we see in life Is due to truths being in and out of favor.
One luminary clock against the sky Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. I have been one acquainted with the night.
Ah, when to the heart of man Was it ever less than a treason To go with the drift of things, To yield with a grace to reason, And bow and accept the end Of a love or a season?
Were he not gone, The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his Long sleep, as I describe its coming on, Or just some human sleep.
The 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.
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.
And nothing to look backward to with pride, And nothing to look forward to with hope.
To warm the frozen swamp as best it could With the slow smokeless burning of decay.
And were an epitaph to be my story I'd have a short one ready for my own. I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover's quarrel with the world.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me, Not of woods only and the shade of trees. He will not go behind his father’s saying, And he likes having thought of it so well He says again, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
The land was ours before we were the land's. She was our land more than a hundred years Before we were her people.
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.
I’m going out to clean the pasture spring; I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away (And wait to watch the water clear, I may): I sha’n’t be gone long. — You come too.
But yield who will to their separation, My object in living is to unite My avocation and my vocation As my two eyes make one in sight. Only where love and need are one, And the work is play for mortal stakes, Is the deed ever really done For heaven and the future´s sakes.
Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat.
Love at the lips was touch As sweet as I could bear; And once that seemed too much; I lived on air
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright (The deed of gift was many deeds of war) To the land vaguely realizing westward, But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced, Such as she was, such as she would become.
'I can repeat the very words you were saying: "Three foggy mornings and one rainy day Will rot the best birch fence a man can build." Think of it, talk like that at such a time! What had how long it takes a birch to rot To do with what was in the darkened parlor? You couldn't care! The nearest friends can go With anyone to death, comes so far short They might as well not try to go at all.
The little graveyard where my people are! So small the window frames the whole of it.
If one by one we counted people out For the least sin, it wouldn't take us long To get so we had no one left to live with. For to be social is to be forgiving.
The 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.
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.
Never ask of money spent Where the spender thinks it went. Nobody was ever meant To remember or invent What he did with every cent.
She is as in a field a silken tent At midday when the sunny summer breeze Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent, So that in guys it gently sways at ease.
Always fall in with what you're asked to accept. Take what is given, and make it over your way. My aim in life has always been to hold my own with whatever's going. Not against: with.
I shall set forth for somewhere, I shall make the reckless choice Some day when they are in voice And tossing so as to scare The white clouds over them on. I shall have less to say, But I shall be gone.
He said twice over before he knew himself: "Can't a man speak of his own child he's lost?" "Not you!'—'Oh, where's my hat? Oh, I don't need it! I must get out of here. I must get air.'— I don't know rightly whether any man can."
The snake stood up for evil in the Garden.
The best things and best people rise out of their separateness; I'm against a homogenized society because I want the cream to rise.
The greatest thing in family life is to take a hint when a hint is intended — and not to take a hint when a hint isn't intended.
No memory of having starred Atones for later disregard, Or keeps the end from being hard.Better to go down dignified With boughten friendship at your side Than none at all. Provide, provide!
The birds that came to it through the air At broken windows flew out and in, Their murmur more like the sigh we sigh From too much dwelling on what has been.
How often already you've had to be told, Keep cold, young orchard. Good-bye and keep cold. Dread fifty above more than fifty below. I have to be gone for a season or so.
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.
‘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.
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 thought was true.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff, The cliff in being backed by continent; It looked as if a night of dark intent Was coming, and not only a night, an age. Someone had better be prepared for rage. There would be more than ocean-water broken Before God's last Put out the Light was spoken.
Courage is in the air in bracing whiffs Better than all the stalemate an's and ifs.
Courage is in the air in bracing whiffs Better than all the stalemate an's and ifs.
Forgive me my nonsense as I also forgive the nonsense of those who think they talk sense.
The Hyla breed That shouted in the mist a month ago, Like ghost of sleigh-bells in a ghost of snow.
The land may vary more; But wherever the truth may be — The water comes ashore, And the people look at the sea.
That day she put our heads together, Fate had her imagination about her, Your head so much concerned with outer, Mine with inner, weather.
Tree at my window, window tree, My sash is lowered when night comes on; But let there never be curtain drawn Between you and me.
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.
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.
I have kept hidden in the instep arch Of an old cedar at the waterside A broken drinking goblet like the Grail Under a spell so the wrong ones can't find it, So can't get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn't. (I stole the goblet from the children's playhouse.) Here are your waters and your watering place. Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.
A poet never takes notes. You never take notes in a love affair.
It takes all sorts of in and outdoor schooling To get adapted to my kind of fooling.
Take care to sell your horse before he dies. The art of life is passing losses on.
The world has room to make a bear feel free; The universe seems cramped to you and me.
Her crop was a miscellany When all was said and done, A little bit of everything, A great deal of none.
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.
First there's the children's house of make-believe, Some shattered dishes underneath a pine, The playthings in the playhouse of the children. Weep for what little things could make them glad.
'My words are nearly always an offense. I don't know how to speak of anything So as to please you. But I might be taught, I should suppose. I can't say I see how.
As for the woods' excitement over you That sends light rustle rushes to their leaves, Charge that to upstart inexperience. Where were they all not twenty years ago? They think too much of having shaded out A few old pecker-fretted apple trees.
The height of the adventure is the height Of country where two village cultures faded Into each other. Both of them are lost. And if you're lost enough to find yourself By now, pull in your ladder road behind you And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.
This was no playhouse but a house in earnest. Your destination and your destiny's A brook that was the water of the house, Cold as a spring as yet so near its source, Too lofty and original to rage. (We know the valley streams that when aroused Will leave their tatters hung on barb and thorn.)
The old dog barks backward without getting up; I can remember when he was a pup.
Summoning artists to participate In the august occasions of the state Seems something artists ought to celebrate.
Summoning artists to participate In the august occasions of the state Seems something artists ought to celebrate. Today is for my cause a day of days.
Dust always blowing about the town, Except when sea-fog laid it down, And I was one of the children told Some of the blowing dust was gold.
'''Such was life in the Golden Gate: Gold dusted all we drank and ate, And I was one of the children told, 'We all must eat our peck of gold.''''
You don’t have to deserve your mother’s love. You have to deserve your father’s. He’s more particular.... The father is always a Republican towards his son, and his mother’s always a Democrat.
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 gray Is silver now with clinging mist.
Wind goes from farm to farm in wave on wave, But carries no cry of what is hoped to be. There may be little or much beyond the grave, But the strong are saying nothing until they see.
We've looked and looked, but after all where are we? Do we know any better where we are, And how it stands between the night tonight And a man with a smoky lantern chimney? How different from the way it ever stood?
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound By countless silken ties of love and thought To every thing on earth the compass round, And only by one's going slightly taut In the capriciousness of summer air Is of the slightest bondage made aware.
Poetry begins in trivial metaphors, pretty metaphors, "grace" metaphors, and goes on to the profoundest thinking that we have. Poetry provides the one permissible way of saying one thing and meaning another. People say, "Why don’t you say what you mean?" We never do that, do we, being all of us too much poets. We like to talk in parables and in hints and in indirections — whether from diffidence or some other instinct.
The Vermont mountains stretch extended straight; New Hampshire mountains curl up in a coil.
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.
All those who try to go it sole alone, Too proud to be beholden for relief, Are absolutely sure to come to grief.
Something inspires the only cow of late To make no more of a wall than an open gate, And think no more of wall-builders than fools.
Come fresh from an election like the last, The greatest vote a people ever cast, So close yet sure to be abided by, It is no miracle our mood is high.
If this uncertain age in which we dwell Were really as dark as I hear sages tell, And I convinced that they were really sages, I should not curse myself with it to hell.
And then we saw him bolt. We heard the miniature thunder where he fled, And we saw him, or thought we saw him, dim and gray, Like a shadow across instead of behind the flakes.
Have I not walked without an upward look Of caution under stars that very well Might not have missed me when they shot and fell? It was a risk I had to take — and took.
A poem...begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is a reaching-out toward expression; an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion finds the thought and the thought finds the words.
And this is no aristocratic joke At the expense of negligible folk. We see how seriously the races swarm In their attempts at sovereignty and form. They are our wards we think to some extent For the time being and with their consent, To teach them how Democracy is meant.
"New order of the ages" did they say? If it looks none too orderly today, 'Tis a confusion it was ours to start So in it have to take courageous part. No one of honest feeling would approve A ruler who pretended not to love A turbulence he had the better of.
Today is for my cause a day of days. And his be poetry's old-fashioned praise Who was the first to think of such a thing. This verse that in acknowledgement I bring Goes back to the beginning of the end Of what had been for centuries the trend; A turning point in modern history.
Everyone knows the glory of the twain Who gave America the aeroplane To ride the whirlwind and the hurricane. Some poor fool has been saying in his heart Glory is out of date in life and art. Our venture in revolution and outlawry Has justified itself in freedom's story Right down to now in glory upon glory.
God nodded his approval of as good. So much those heroes knew and understood, I mean the great four, Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, and Madison So much they saw as consecrated seers They must have seen ahead what not appears, They would bring empires down about our ears And by the example of our Declaration Make everybody want to be a nation.
The nearest friends can go With anyone to death, comes so far short They might as well not try to go at all. No, from the time when one is sick to death, One is alone, and he dies more alone. Friends make pretence of following to the grave, But before one is in it, their minds are turned And making the best of their way back to life And living people, and things they understand.
Colonial had been the thing to be As long as the great issue was to see What country'd be the one to dominate By character, by tongue, by native trait, The new world Christopher Columbus found. The French, the Spanish, and the Dutch were downed And counted out. Heroic deeds were done. Elizabeth the First and England won. Now came on a new order of the ages That in the Latin of our founding sages (Is it not written on the dollar bill We carry in our purse and pocket still?)
Deliver us from committees.
Pressed into service means pressed out of shape.
Let me be the one To do what is done.
It is the future that creates his present. All is an interminable chain of longing.
Courage is of the heart by derivation, And great it is. But fear is of the soul.
Till we came to be There was not a trace Of a thinking race Anywhere in space.
Everything written is as good as it is dramatic. It need not declare itself in form, but it is drama or nothing.
People are inexterminable — like flies and bed-bugs. There will always be some that survive in cracks and crevices — that’s us.
She drew back; he was calm "It is this that had the power," And he lashed his open palm With the tender-headed flower.
She let him look, sure that he wouldn't see, Blind creature; and awhile he didn't see. But at last he murmured, "Oh," and again, "Oh."
Don’t join too many gangs. Join few if any. Join the United States and join the family — But not much in between, unless a college.
All the dust the wind blew high Appeared like god in the sunset sky, But I was one of the children told Some of the dust was really gold.
“My dear, It’s who first thought the thought. You’re searching, Joe, For things that don’t exist; I mean beginnings. Ends and beginnings—there are no such things. There are only middles.
But he sent her Good-by, And said to be good, And wear her red hood, And look for skunk tracks In the snow with an ax — And do everything!
It must be the brook Can trust itself to go by contraries The way I can with you — and you with me — Because we’re — we’re — I don’t know What we are.
Our life runs down in sending up the clock. The brook runs down in sending up our life. The sun runs down in sending up the brook. And there is something sending up the sun.
It asks a little of us here. It asks of us a certain height. So when at times the mob is swayed To carry praise or blame too far, We may take something like a star To stay our minds on and be staid.
If, as they say, some dust thrown in my eyes Will keep my talk from getting overwise, I'm not the one for putting off the proof. Let it be overwhelming, off a roof And round a corner, blizzard snow for dust, And blind me to a standstill if it must.
It makes the prophet in us all presage The glory of a next Augustan age Of a power leading from its strength and pride, Of young ambition eager to be tried, Firm in our free beliefs without dismay, In any game the nations want to play. A golden age of poetry and power Of which this noonday's the beginning hour.
There was the book of profile tales declaring For the emboldened politicians daring To break with followers when in the wrong, A healthy independence of the throng, A democratic form of right divine To rule first answerable to high design. There is a call to life a little sterner, And braver for the earner, learner, yearner. Less criticism of the field and court And more preoccupation with the sport.
Home is the place where, when you have to go there, They have to take you in.
I stopped my song and almost heart, For any eye is an evil eye That looks in onto a mood apart.
“Well, who begun it?” That’s what at the end of a war We always say not who won it, Or what it was foughten for.
It is only a moment here and a moment there that the greatest writer has. Some cognizance of the fact must be taken in your teaching.
We disparage reason. But all the time it’s what we’re most concerned with. There’s will as motor and there’s will as brakes. Reason is, I suppose, the steering gear.
I am assured at any rate Man's practically inexterminate. Someday I must go into that. There's always been an Ararat Where someone someone else begat To start the world all over at.
The way a crow Shook down on me The dust of snow From a hemlock treeHas given my heart A change of mood And saved some part Of a day I had rued.
It should be of the pleasure of a poem itself to tell how it can. The figure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom. The figure is the same for love.
Do you know, Considering the market, there are more Poems produced than any other thing? No wonder poets sometimes have to seem So much more businesslike than businessmen. Their wares are so much harder to get rid of.
How many times it thundered before Franklin took the hint! How many apples fell on Newton's head before he took the hint! Nature is always hinting at us. It hints over and over again. And suddenly we take the hint.
I turned to speak to God About the world's despair But to make bad matters worse I found God wasn't there. God turned to speak to me (Don't anybody laugh) God found I wasn't there At least not over half.
You've often heard me say – perhaps too often – that poetry is what is lost in translation. It is also what is lost in interpretation. That little poem means just what it says and it says what it means, nothing less but nothing more.
Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting … Read it a hundred times; it will forever keep its freshness as a metal keeps its fragrance. It can never lose its sense of a meaning that once unfolded by surprise as it went.
Talking is a hydrant in the yard and writing is a faucet upstairs in the house. Opening the first takes all the pressure off the second. My mouth is sealed for the duration of my stay here. I'm not even going to write letters around to explain to collectors my not having had any Christmas card this year. I'm not going to explain anything personal any more.
O Star (the fairest one in sight) We grant your loftiness the right To some obscurity of cloud — It will not do to say of night, Since dark is what brings out your light. Some mystery becomes the proud. But to be wholly taciturn In your reserve is not allowed. Say something to us that we can learn By heart and when alone repeat. Say something! And it says "I burn."
And be all plunderers curst. 'The best way to hate is the worst. 'Tis to find what the hated need, Never mind of what actual worth, And wipe that out of the earth. Let them die of unsatisfied greed, Of unsatisfied love of display, Of unsatisfied love of the high, Unvulgar, unsoiled, and ideal. Let their trappings be taken away. Let them suffer starvation and die Of being brought down to the real.
Scholars and artists thrown together are often annoyed at the puzzle of where they differ. Both work from knowledge; but I suspect they differ most importantly in the way their knowledge is come by. Scholars get theirs with conscientious thoroughness along projected lines of logic; poets theirs cavalierly and as it happens in and out of books. They stick to nothing deliberately, but let what will stick to them like burrs where they walk in the fields.
We love the things we love for what they are.
"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.
Unless I'm wrong I but obey The urge of a song: I'm—bound—away!And I may return If dissatisfied With what I learn From having died.
Now no joy but lacks salt, That is not dashed with pain And weariness and fault; I crave the stainOf tears, the aftermark Of almost too much love, The sweet of bitter bark And burning clove.
It is absurd to think that the only way to tell if a poem is lasting is to wait and see if it lasts. The right reader of a good poem can tell the moment it strikes him that he has taken an immortal wound—that he will never get over it.
When I see young men doing so wonderfully well in athletics, I don’t feel angry at them. I feel jealous of them. I wish that some of my boys in writing would do the same thing. … You must have form — performance. The thing itself is indescribable, but it is felt like athletic form. To have form, feel form in sports — and by analogy feel form in verse. One works and waits for form in both. As I said, the person who spends his time criticizing the play around him will never write poetry. He will write criticism — for the New Republic.
There is a singer everyone has heard, Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird, Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again. He says that leaves are old and that for flowers Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten. He says the early petal-fall is past When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers On sunny days a moment overcast; And comes that other fall we name the fall. He says the highway dust is over all. The bird would cease and be as other birds But that he knows in singing not to sing. The question that he frames in all but words Is what to make of a diminished thing.
Back out of all this now too much for us, Back in a time made simple by the loss Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather, There is a house that is no more a house Upon a farm that is no more a farm And in a town that is no more a town. The road there, if you'll let a guide direct you Who only has at heart your getting lost, May seem as if it should have been a quarry – Great monolithic knees the former town Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered. And there's a story in a book about it…
I own any form of humor shows fear and inferiority. Irony is simply a kind of guardedness. So is a twinkle. It keeps the reader from criticism. Whittier, when he shows any style at all is probably a greater person than Longfellow as he is lifted priestlike above consideration of the scornful. Belief is better than anything else, and it is best when rapt, above paying its respects to anybody's doubt whatsoever. At bottom the world isn't a joke. We only joke about it to avoid an issue with someone to let someone know that we know he's there with his questions: to disarm him by seeming to have heard and done justice to this side of the standing argument. Humor is the most engaging cowardice.
Others taunt 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 My 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.
Originality and initiative are what I ask for my country. For myself the originality need be no more than the freshness of a poem run in the way I have described: from delight to wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. Like a piece of ice on a hot stove the poem must ride on its own melting. A poem may be worked over once it is in being, but may not be worried into being. Its most precious quality will remain its having run itself and carried away the poet with it. Read it a hundred times: it will forever keep its freshness as a petal keeps its fragrance. It can never lose its sense of a meaning that once unfolded by surprise as it went.
It should be of the pleasure of a poem itself to tell how it can. The figure a poem makes. It begins in delight and ends in wisdom. The figure is the same as for love. No one can really hold that the ecstasy should be static and stand still in one place. It begins in delight, it inclines to the impulse, it assumes direction with the first line laid down, it runs a course of lucky events, and ends in a clarification of life-not necessarily a great clarification, such as sects and cults are founded on, but in a momentary stay against confusion. It has denouement. It has an outcome that though unforeseen was predestined from the first image of the original mood-and indeed from the very mood. It is but a trick poem and no poem at all if the best of it was thought of first and saved for the last. It finds its own name as it goes and discovers the best waiting for it in some final phrase at once wise and sad-the happy-sad blend of the drinking song.
No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader. For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn't know I knew. I am in a place, in a situation, as if I had materialized from cloud or risen out of the ground. There is a glad recognition of the long lost and the rest follows. Step by step the wonder of unexpected supply keeps growing. The impressions most useful to my purpose seem always those I was unaware of and so made no note of at the time when taken, and the conclusion is come to that like giants we are always hurling experience ahead of us to pave the future with against the day when we may Want to strike a line of purpose across it for somewhere. The line will have the more charm for not being mechanically straight. We enjoy the straight crookedness of a good walking stick. Modern instruments of precision are being used to make things crooked as if by eye and hand in the old days.