Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Tufts of Flowers by Robert Frost

Robert Frost is on the 2015 HSC poetry list.
My eldest stepson is studying 6 of his poems (rather reluctantly) with his class.
The major theme they're exploring is discovery or self-discovery.


I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the leveled scene.

I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been—alone,

“As all must be,” I said within my heart,
“Whether they work together or apart.”

But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a bewildered butterfly,

Seeking with memories grown dim o’er night
Some resting flower of yesterday’s delight.

And once I marked his flight go round and round,
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.

And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.

I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;

But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.

The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,

Nor yet to draw one though of ours to him,
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.

The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,

That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,

And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.

“Men work together,” I told him from the heart,
“Whether they work together or apart.”

 
This is also a poem about self-discovery - the connection between people through time & place, a search for meaning in our modern world through comparison with an older time gone by. We experience solitude & loneliness - eventually working our way to connection & fellowship.

Nature, by its very indifference to human beings, allows us to gain our own knowledge & insight - we work it out by ourselves, as nature won't provide the answers for us.

Frost said that a poem is
never a put-up job.... It begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a loneliness. 
It is never a thought to begin with. 
It is at its best when it is a tantalizing vagueness.”

What do you think?

2 comments:

  1. It's lovely. I always struggle with appreciating poetry : )

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this poem.

    I like that you labeled nature as indifferent in this poem. There so seem to be a lot of allusions to death which to me, is the ultimate indifference on the part of nature. Perhaps the connections between people, which as you point out, are also present in the lines, are one way that we cope with death.

    ReplyDelete

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