Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Need of Being Versed in Country Things

If you’re going to have a blog called “Robert Frost’s Banjo,” you do need to have a bit of poetry now & then (besides my links to my own stuff). Here’s a lovely poem by Frost from his collection New Hampshire (1923). In some ways, it’s another take on the theme I explored a bit in my “Willow, Weep for Me” post a few days back; & it suits my mood today. Enjoy.

The Need of Being Versed in Country Things

The house had gone to bring again
To the midnight sky a sunset glow.
Now the chimney was all of the house that stood,
Like a pistil after the petals go.

The barn opposed across the way,
That would have joined the house in flame
Had it been the will of the wind, was left
To bear forsaken the place's name.

No more it opened with all one end
For teams that came by the stony road
To drum on the floor with scurrying hoofs
And brush the mow with the summer load.

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.

Yet for them the lilac renewed its leaf,
And the aged elm, though touched with fire;
And the dry pump flung up an awkward arm;
And the fence post carried a strand of wire.

For them there was really nothing sad.
But though they rejoiced in the nest they kept,
One had to be versed in country things
Not to believe the phoebes wept.

Robert Frost, 1923


  1. Thanks for directing me here, John. I think this may have become my new favourite poem. So many words and lines, carefully selected - although I often feel the words select themselves - it is a serendipitous craft.

    I love that play on "dwelling" and the strand of wire. The last line of course is brilliant.

    I really enjoyed this.


  2. Hi Kat:

    I thought you might like that one; I've always liked it myself. It was the first poem I posted on the blog-- obviously the first one had to be by R Frost!


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