We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Out of the mud two strangers came And caught me splitting wood in the yard, And one of them put me off my aim By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!" I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind And let the other go on a way. I knew pretty well what he had in mind: He wanted to take my job for pay.
Good blocks of oak it was I split, As large around as the chopping block; And every piece I squarely hit Fell splinterless as a cloven rock. The blows that a life of self-control Spares to strike for the common good, That day, giving a loose my soul, I spent on the unimportant wood.
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.
A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume, His song so pitched as not to excite A single flower as yet to bloom. It is snowing a flake; and he half knew Winter was only playing possum. Except in color he isn't blue, But he wouldn't advise a thing to blossom.
The water for which we may have to look In summertime with a witching wand, In every wheelrut's now a brook, In every print of a hoof a pond. Be glad of water, but don't forget The lurking frost in the earth beneath That will steal forth after the sun is set And show on the water its crystal teeth.
The time when most I loved my task The two must make me love it more By coming with what they came to ask. You'd think I never had felt before The weight of an ax-head poised aloft, The grip of earth on outspread feet, The life of muscles rocking soft And smooth and moist in vernal heat.
Out of the wood two hulking tramps (From sleeping God knows where last night, But not long since in the lumber camps). They thought all chopping was theirs of right. Men of the woods and lumberjacks, They judged me by their appropriate tool. Except as a fellow handled an ax They had no way of knowing a fool.
Nothing on either side was said. They knew they had but to stay their stay And all their logic would fill my head: As that I had no right to play With what was another man's work for gain. My right might be love but theirs was need. And where the two exist in twain Theirs was the better right--agreed.
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
My second son has the last line of this tattooed on his underarm, in the 1932 Underwood typeface Frost used. I suppose if he has to have a tattoo, I can put up with that one. Not that it matters what I think. He's 36.
We discuss Frost a fair bit, and the concept behind this, that others might have a right to their work, creeps into many places if you follow it out. Some lead to ridiculousness, if made into policy. But used as a guide for community living, it makes some sense. Yet the poem is about Frost and his rights as well, the right to see things more clearly by engaging in physical labor, in order to do his vocation - poetry - better. There is also the undercurrent of class here, in which Frost, who was not wealthy, is perceived by the tramps as a person above them, which they don't like.
I have mentioned before that my grandfather had Frost as a 9th grade English teacher at Pinkerton Academy in 1910. He didn't like him much, and Frost didn't much like highschoolers. He took the job because he needed the cash to keep his mother's farm afloat.
Assistant Village Idiot
I have a book of poetry Frost inscribed to my aunt iwhen she was in college. She gave it to me because she knew I liked him. Just now a beat up old book, but basically my most prized possession.
I grew up in northeast NYS. My mother lived Nov. 1912 to June 2012. Her favorite poem was Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" (the most perfect poem in the English language?), although she had a lot of favorites. I also have a lot of favorites, and some of Frost's are among them. I have his Complete Works. I like his eye for detail, his skill at description, and his contemplative style. Each time you read one of his poems, you tend to notice something new. Thank you.
I'll tell you something: 99% of young people would not have the patience to read this poem. Quality has nothing to do with it; the kids literally cannot grasp enough meaning from each line to continue reading. But that can be changed by using various colors for each word. The key to is make sure that the colors "progress" as the poem progresses. Kids know that yellow is happy and cheerful, and that black is frightening and ominous. So the gradually shifting colors would convey a parallel meaning to the poem, and that would keep the kids interested. If it's done right, the kids could get a summary of the poem just by looking at it as a single image. And all the poems could be categorized by color scheme. It would then be easy for a teacher to select a few poems to go with a lesson.