A Bringer of New Things

Musings on personal growth, books, motherhood, writing, and more.

Happy Birthday, Robert Frost (I Miss You)!


I heard today on The Writer’s Almanac that it’s Robert Frost’s birthday, and I wanted to take a moment and celebrate him. I adore his poems—but then, does anyone not?

“The Road Not Taken” is literally my lullaby: I recite it in my head most nights before I fall asleep, because it soothes and relaxes me. I’ve tried plenty of other poems for this purpose, but none work as well for me as this one. The forest setting (I love forests—hence the “Woods” in my pen name), the melodic meter and rhyme scheme, and the subject of calm deliberation over a decision that doesn’t really matter—all these work together to lull me right into dreamland.

But I suppose he might be offended rather than complimented by my claim that his poem makes me fall asleep! So I’ll hurry to insist that I am awakened, moved, and awed by many of his other poems.

For example, my latest obsession is his poem “Acquainted with the Night“:

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.

I am there with him, in the scene he describes so beautifully, feeling his grief and loneliness (even though I’m not told the specifics of the speaker’s loss) and feeling the coldness of reality (personified in a clock) that this is just the way life happens. The form of the poem perfectly dovetails with the content—for example, I can feel the speaker’s pause as he stops to listen to a voice calling out, wondering if someone could be calling him back, perhaps with good news—and then, after the stanza break, he resumes his solitary walk, knowing the voice wasn’t for him. Also, the poem’s unbroken iambic penatmeter (the specific rhythm) gives the feeling of footsteps.

Oh, to write like that!

It is poets like Robert Frost who are my literary role models. I’m not apologizing anymore for my dislike of most contemporary poetry, with its free verse style and obscure strings of words. I can’t help it that I love poems with meter, rhyme, and/or form. I can’t help it that I love Robert Frost!



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This entry was posted on March 26, 2014 by in Discoveries from Learning, Great Poems and tagged , , , , .
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