Poem – The Pauper Witch of Grafton

NOW that they’ve got it settled whose I be,
I’m going to tell them something they won’t like:
They’ve got it settled wrong, and I can prove it.
Flattered I must be to have two towns fighting
To make a present of me to each other.
They don’t dispose me, either one of them,
To spare them any trouble. Double trouble’s
Always the witch’s motto anyway.
I’ll double theirs for both of them- you watch me.
They’ll find they’ve got the whole thing to do over,
That is, if facts is what they want to go by.
They set a lot (now don’t they?) by a record
Of Arthur Amy’s having once been up
For Hog Reeve in March Meeting here in Warren.
I could have told them any time this twelvemonth
The Arthur Amy I was married to
Couldn’t have been the one they say was up
In Warren at March Meeting for the reason
He wa’n’t but fifteen at the time they say.
The Arthur Amy I was married to
voted the only times he ever voted,
Which wasn’t many, in the town of Wentworth.
One of the times was when ’twas in the warrant
To see if the town wanted to take over
The tote road to our clearing where we lived.
I’ll tell you who’d remember- Heman Lapish.
Their Arthur Amy was the father of mine.
So now they’ve dragged it through the law courts once
I guess they’d better drag it through again.
Wentworth and Warren’s both good towns to live in,
Only I happen to prefer to live
In Wentworth from now on; and when all’s said,
Right’s right, and the temptation to do right
When I can hurt someone by doing it
Has always been too much for me, it has.
I know of some folks that’d be set up
At having in their town a noted witch:
But most would have to think of the expense
That even I would be. They ought to know
That as a witch I’d often milk a bat
And that’d be enough to last for days.
It’d make my position stronger, I think,
If I was to consent to give some sign
To make it surer that I was a witch?
It wa’n’t no sign, I s’pose, when Mallice Huse
Said that I took him out in his old age
And rode all over everything on him
Until I’d had him worn to skin and bones,
And if I’d left him hitched unblanketed
In front of one Town Hall, I’d left him hitched
In front of every one in Grafton County.
Some cried shame on me not to blanket him,
The poor old man. It would have been all right
If some one hadn’t said to gnaw the posts
He stood beside and leave his trade mark on them,
So they could recognize them. Not a post
That they could hear tell of was scarified.
They made him keep on gnawing till he whined.
Then that same smarty someone said to look-
He’d bet Huse was a cribber and had gnawed
The crib he slept in- and as sure’s you’re born
They found he’d gnawed the four posts of his bed,
All four of them to splinters. What did that prove?
Not that he hadn’t gnawed the hitching posts
He said he had besides. Because a horse
Gnaws in the stable ain’t no proof to me
He don’t gnaw trees and posts and fences too.
But everybody took it for proof.
I was a strapping girl of twenty then.
The smarty someone who spoiled everything
Was Arthur Amy. You know who he was.
That was the way he started courting me.
He never said much after we were married,
But I mistrusted he was none too proud
Of having interfered in the Huse business.
I guess he found he got more out of me
By having me a witch. Or something happened
To turn him round. He got to saying things
To undo what he’d done and make it right,
Like, ‘No, she ain’t come back from kiting yet.
Last night was one of her nights out. She’s kiting.
She thinks when the wind makes a night of it
She might as well herself.’ But he liked best
To let on he was plagued to death with me:
If anyone had seen me coming home
Over the ridgepole, ‘stride of a broomstick,
As often as he had in the tail of the night,
He guessed they’d know what he had to put up with.
Well, I showed Arthur Amy signs enough
Off from the house as far as we could keep
And from barn smells you can’t wash out of ploughed ground
With all the rain and snow of seven years;
And I don’t mean just skulls of Roger’s Rangers
On Moosilauke, but woman signs to man,
Only bewitched so I would last him longer.
Up where the trees grow short, the mosses tall,
I made him gather me wet snow berries
On slippery rocks beside a waterfall.
I made him do it for me in the dark.
And he liked everything I made him do.
I hope if he is where he sees me now
He’s so far off he can’t see what I’ve come to.
You can come down from everything to nothing.
All is, if I’d a-known when I was young
And full of it, that this would be the end,
It doesn’t seem as if I’d had the courage
To make so free and kick up in folks’ faces.
I might have, but it doesn’t seem as if.

Poem – The Line Gang

Here come the line-gang pioneering by,
They throw a forest down less cut than broken.
They plant dead trees for living, and the dead
They string together with a living thread.
They string an instrument against the sky
Wherein words whether beaten out or spoken
Will run as hushed as when they were a thought
But in no hush they string it: they go past
With shouts afar to pull the cable taught,
To hold it hard until they make it fast,
To ease away — they have it. With a laugh,
An oath of towns that set the wild at naught
They bring the telephone and telegraph.

Poem – The Objection To Being Stepped On

At the end of the row
I stepped on the toe
Of an unemployed hoe.
It rose in offense
And struck me a blow
In the seat of my sense.
It wasn’t to blame
But I called it a name.
And I must say it dealt
Me a blow that I felt
Like a malice prepense.
You may call me a fool,
But was there a rule
The weapon should be
Turned into a tool?
And what do we see?
The first tool I step on
Turned into a weapon.

Poem – Sitting by a Bush in Broad Sunlight

When I spread out my hand here today,
I catch no more than a ray
To feel of between thumb and fingers;
No lasting effect of it lingers.

There was one time and only the one
When dust really took in the sun;
And from that one intake of fire
All creatures still warmly suspire.

And if men have watched a long time
And never seen sun-smitten slime
Again come to life and crawl off,
We not be too ready to scoff.

God once declared he was true
And then took the veil and withdrew,
And remember how final a hush
Then descended of old on the bush.

God once spoke to people by name.
The sun once imparted its flame.
One impulse persists as our breath;
The other persists as our faith.

Poem – Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter

The west was getting out of gold,
The breath of air had died of cold,
When shoeing home across the white,
I thought I saw a bird alight.

In summer when I passed the place
I had to stop and lift my face;
A bird with an angelic gift
Was singing in it sweet and swift.

No bird was singing in it now.
A single leaf was on a bough,
And that was all there was to see
In going twice around the tree.

From my advantage on a hill
I judged that such a crystal chill
Was only adding frost to snow
As gilt to gold that wouldn’t show.

A brush had left a crooked stroke
Of what was either cloud or smoke
From north to south across the blue;
A piercing little star was through.

Poem – The Demiurge’s Laugh

It was far in the sameness of the wood;
I was running with joy on the Demon’s trail,
Though I knew what I hunted was no true god.
It was just as the light was beginning to fail
That I suddenly heard—all I needed to hear:
It has lasted me many and many a year.

The sound was behind me instead of before,
A sleepy sound, but mocking half,
As of one who utterly couldn’t care.
The Demon arose from his wallow to laugh,
Brushing the dirt from his eye as he went;
And well I knew what the Demon meant.

I shall not forget how his laugh rang out.
I felt as a fool to have been so caught,
And checked my steps to make pretence
It was something among the leaves I sought
(Though doubtful whether he stayed to see).
Thereafter I sat me against a tree.

Poem – In Hardwood Groves

The same leaves over and over again!
They fall from giving shade above
To make one texture of faded brown
And fit the earth like a leather glove.

Before the leaves can mount again
To fill the trees with another shade,
They must go down past things coming up.
They must go down into the dark decayed.

They must be pierced by flowers and put
Beneath the feet of dancing flowers.
However it is in some other world
I know that this is way in ours.

Poem – Once By The Pacific

The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
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.

Poem – Mending Wall

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.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
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.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbours? Isn’t it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
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 could say “Elves” to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
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.”

Poem – 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 the were all,
Whose elaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the all.

Two Tramps In Mud Time  – Robert Frost

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.

Unharvested –   Robert Frost 

A scent of ripeness from over a wall. 

And come to leave the routine road 

And look for what had made me stall, 

There sure enough was an apple tree 

That had eased itself of its summer load, 

And of all but its trivial foliage free, 

Now breathed as light as a lady’s fan. 

For there had been an apple fall 

As complete as the apple had given man. 

The ground was one circle of solid red. 
May something go always unharvested! 

May much stay out of our stated plan, 

Apples or something forgotten and left, 

So smelling their sweetness would be no theft.

Tree At My Window -Robert Frost 

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. 
Vague dream head lifted out of the ground, 

And thing next most diffuse to cloud, 

Not all your light tongues talking aloud 

Could be profound. 
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed, 

And if you have seen me when I slept, 

You have seen me when I was taken and swept 

And all but lost. 
That day she put our heads together, 

Fate had her imagination about her, 

Your head so much concerned with outer, 

Mine with inner, weather.

Wind And Window Flower – Robert Frost

Lovers, forget your love, 

And list to the love of these, 

She a window flower, 

And he a winter breeze. 

When the frosty window veil 

Was melted down at noon, 

And the cagèd yellow bird 

Hung over her in tune, 

He marked her through the pane, 

He could not help but mark, 

And only passed her by, 

To come again at dark. 

He was a winter wind, 

Concerned with ice and snow, 

Dead weeds and unmated birds, 

And little of love could know. 

But he sighed upon the sill, 

He gave the sash a shake, 

As witness all within 

Who lay that night awake. 

Perchance he half prevailed 

To win her for the flight 

From the firelit looking-glass 

And warm stove-window light. 

But the flower leaned aside 

And thought of naught to say, 

And morning found the breeze 

A hundred miles away.

Poem – Misgiving – Robert Frost 

All crying, ‘We will go with you, O Wind!’ 

The foliage follow him, leaf and stem; 

But a sleep oppresses them as they go, 

And they end by bidding them as they go, 

And they end by bidding him stay with them. 
Since ever they flung abroad in spring 

The leaves had promised themselves this flight, 

Who now would fain seek sheltering wall, 

Or thicket, or hollow place for the night. 
And now they answer his summoning blast 

With an ever vaguer and vaguer stir, 

Or at utmost a little reluctant whirl 

That drops them no further than where they were. 
I only hope that when I am free 

As they are free to go in quest 

Of the knowledge beyond the bounds of life 

It may not seem better to me to rest.

Poem – Bond and Free – Robert Frost

Love has earth to which she clings With hills and circling arms about- 

Wall within wall to shut fear out. 

But Thought has need of no such things, 

For Thought has a pair of dauntless wings. 
On snow and sand and turn, I see 

Where Love has left a printed trace 

With straining in the world’s embrace. 

And such is Love and glad to be 

But Thought has shaken his ankles free. 
Thought cleaves the interstellar gloom 

And sits in Sirius’ disc all night, 

Till day makes him retrace his flight 

With smell of burning on every plume, 

Back past the sun to an earthly room. 
His gains in heaven are what they are. 

Yet some say Love by being thrall 

And simply staying possesses all 

In several beauty that Thought fares far 

To find fused in another star.

Poem – Nothing Gold Can Stay – Robert Frost 

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.

Poem – A Boundless Moment – Robert Frost

He halted in the wind, and – what was that 

Far in the maples, pale, but not a ghost? 

He stood there bringing March against his thought, 

And yet too ready to believe the most. 
‘Oh, that’s the Paradise-in-bloom,’ I said; 

And truly it was fair enough for flowers 

had we but in us to assume in march 

Such white luxuriance of May for ours. 
We stood a moment so in a strange world, 

Myself as one his own pretense deceives; 

And then I said the truth (and we moved on) . 

A young beech clinging to its last year’s leaves.

Poem -A Time to Talk – Robert Frost

When a friend calls to me from the road 

And slows his horse to a meaning walk, 

I don’t stand still and look around 

On all the hills I haven’t hoed, 

And shout from where I am, What is it? 

No, not as there is a time to talk. 

I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground, 

Blade-end up and five feet tall, 

And plod: I go up to the stone wall 

For a friendly visit.

Poem – A Soldier – Robert Frost 

He is that fallen lance that lies as hurled, 

That lies unlifted now, come dew, come rust, 

But still lies pointed as it plowed the dust. 

If we who sight along it round the world, 

See nothing worthy to have been its mark, 

It is because like men we look too near, 

Forgetting that as fitted to the sphere, 

Our missiles always make too short an arc. 

They fall, they rip the grass, they intersect 

The curve of earth, and striking, break their own; 

They make us cringe for metal-point on stone. 

But this we know, the obstacle that checked 

And tripped the body, shot the spirit on 

Further than target ever showed or shone.