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Robert Frost: cracker-barrel philosopher

One of America’s most celebrated poets

  • A Brook in the City
  • The farmhouse lingers, though averse to square 
  • With the new city street it has to wear 
  • A number in. But what about the brook 
  • That held the house as in an elbow-crook? 
  • I ask as one who knew the brook, its strength 
  • And impulse, having dipped a finger length 
  • And made it leap my knuckle, having tossed 
  • A flower to try its currents where they crossed. 
  • The meadow grass could be cemented down 
  • From growing under pavements of a town;
  • The apple trees be sent to hearth-stone flame. 
  • Is water wood to serve a brook the same? 
  • How else dispose of an immortal force 
  • No longer needed? Staunch it at its source 
  • With cinder loads dumped down? The brook was thrown 
  • Deep in a sewer dungeon under stone 
  • In fetid darkness still to live and run — 
  • And all for nothing it had ever done 
  • Except forget to go in fear perhaps. 
  • No one would know except for ancient maps
  • That such a brook ran water. But I wonder 
  • If from its being kept forever under, 
  • The thoughts may not have risen that so keep 
  • This new-built city from both work and sleep.
  • October
  • O hushed October morning mild, 
  • Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; 
  • Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild, 
  • Should waste them all. 
  • The crows above the forest call; 
  • Tomorrow they may form and go. 
  • O hushed October morning mild, 
  • Begin the hours of this day slow. 
  • Make the day seem to us less brief. 
  • Hearts not averse to being beguiled, 
  • Beguile us in the way you know. 
  • Release one leaf at break of day; 
  • At noon release another leaf; 
  • One from our trees, one far away. 
  • Retard the sun with gentle mist; 
  • Enchant the land with amethyst. 
  • Slow, slow! 
  • For the grapes’ sake, if they were all, 
  • Whose leaves already are burnt with frost, 
  • Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
  • For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
Robert Frost

Robert Frost (1874-1963) is one of America’s most celebrated poets. Although his work — including his first two books, A Boy’s Will (1913) and North of Boston (1914) — was first published in England, he eventually captured the attention of American readers with his colloquial style, traditional forms, and common-sense approach to his subject matter. Especially in his poems on rural life, Frost typically employed the “middlebrow” tone of a cracker-barrel philosopher to reveal the relationship between the individual, society and the natural world. Born in San Francisco, Frost settled down in rural New England, which serves as the backdrop for many of his poems. Among his many awards and honors, Frost received an unprecedented four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, as well as the Congressional Gold Medal (1960).

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  • A Brook in the City
  • The farmhouse lingers, though averse to square 
  • With the new city street it has to wear 
  • A number in. But what about the brook 
  • That held the house as in an elbow-crook? 
  • I ask as one who knew the brook, its strength 
  • And impulse, having dipped a finger length 
  • And made it leap my knuckle, having tossed 
  • A flower to try its currents where they crossed. 
  • The meadow grass could be cemented down 
  • From growing under pavements of a town;
  • The apple trees be sent to hearth-stone flame. 
  • Is water wood to serve a brook the same? 
  • How else dispose of an immortal force 
  • No longer needed? Staunch it at its source 
  • With cinder loads dumped down? The brook was thrown 
  • Deep in a sewer dungeon under stone 
  • In fetid darkness still to live and run — 
  • And all for nothing it had ever done 
  • Except forget to go in fear perhaps. 
  • No one would know except for ancient maps
  • That such a brook ran water. But I wonder 
  • If from its being kept forever under, 
  • The thoughts may not have risen that so keep 
  • This new-built city from both work and sleep.
  • October
  • O hushed October morning mild, 
  • Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; 
  • Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild, 
  • Should waste them all. 
  • The crows above the forest call; 
  • Tomorrow they may form and go. 
  • O hushed October morning mild, 
  • Begin the hours of this day slow. 
  • Make the day seem to us less brief. 
  • Hearts not averse to being beguiled, 
  • Beguile us in the way you know. 
  • Release one leaf at break of day; 
  • At noon release another leaf; 
  • One from our trees, one far away. 
  • Retard the sun with gentle mist; 
  • Enchant the land with amethyst. 
  • Slow, slow! 
  • For the grapes’ sake, if they were all, 
  • Whose leaves already are burnt with frost, 
  • Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
  • For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
Robert Frost

Robert Frost (1874-1963) is one of America’s most celebrated poets. Although his work — including his first two books, A Boy’s Will (1913) and North of Boston (1914) — was first published in England, he eventually captured the attention of American readers with his colloquial style, traditional forms, and common-sense approach to his subject matter. Especially in his poems on rural life, Frost typically employed the “middlebrow” tone of a cracker-barrel philosopher to reveal the relationship between the individual, society and the natural world. Born in San Francisco, Frost settled down in rural New England, which serves as the backdrop for many of his poems. Among his many awards and honors, Frost received an unprecedented four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, as well as the Congressional Gold Medal (1960).

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