Never again would birds’ songs be the same – Robert Frost

Never again would birds’ songs be the same

He would declare and could himself believe
That the birds there in all the garden round
From having heard the daylong voice of Eve
Had added to their own an oversound,
Her tone of meaning but without the words.
Admittedly an eloquence so soft
Could only have had an influence on birds
When call or laughter carried it aloft.
Be that as may be, she was in their song.
Moreover her voice upon their voices crossed
Had now persisted in the woods so long
That probably it never would be lost.
Never again would birds’ song be the same.
And to do that to birds was why she came.

Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)

A rhyming sonnet with a break in thought after line eight.

He = Adam – I guess this would be assumed by must readers – a welcome to Eve who combats the loneliness of Adam …as shown by this text – an eloquence so soft could only have an influence on birds.

For contemplation – What did the voice of Eve bring to nature? How did Adam now view nature? Did nature actually change?

This poem gives contrast to the way Robert Frost explores loneliness in his poem ‘The Most of It’ … see my previous post for comments on this poem.

Robert Frost on Wikipedia

The Most of It – Robert Frost – Analysis

The most of it

He thought he kept the universe alone;
For all the voice in answer he could wake
Was but the mocking echo of his own
From some tree-hidden cliff across the lake.
Some morning from the boulder-broken beach
He would cry out on life, that what it wants
Is not its own love back in copy speech,
But counter-love, original response.
And nothing ever came of what he cried
Unless it was the embodiment that crashed
In the cliff’s talus on the other side,
And then in the far distant water splashed,
But after a time allowed for it to swim,
Instead of proving human when it neared
And someone else additional to him,
As a great buck it powerfully appeared,
Pushing the crumpled water up ahead,
And landed pouring like a waterfall,
And stumbled through the rocks with horny tread,
And forced the underbrush—and that was all.

Robert Frost (1874 -1963)

This is a twenty iambic line poem with rhyming scheme ‘ab ab’
talus – sloping fragments of rock

Lines 1-8 … wanting more from the universe
Having the universe to himself was not enough. He wanted more and what he wanted was the universe to talk back and not give the echo copy of his own words. He wanted more than what the universe could offer. He was obviously lonely and needed human companionship. He wanted something personal to counter his love for the universe and asks for an original response.

Lines 9 – 20 … the universe gives a response
This is all that nature could offer and this was not enough but it is an original response. A very poetic statement that man cannot live alone. Making the most of it is insufficient without human company.

More WordPress commentary on this poem … https://socialecologies.wordpress.com/2015/11/14/robert-frost-the-most-of-it/

Robert Frost on Wikipedia … https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Frost

 

Mending Wall – Robert Frost – Analysis

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.”

Robert Frost
 
This poem looks like a response to something that happened to RF when farming his land.

You could say this poem is all about challenging entrenched thought in order to explore possible change, in this case a farmer honours his father’s saying without employing his own mind to the situation. An ‘old stone savage armed’ and moving in ‘darkness’ gives strong negative emphasis to this way of non-thinking.

On the other hand in defence of the attitude taken the farmer could have given plenty of thought into his father’s saying and made similar choice after much consideration. After all it is nice to have your own defined space and control. And there may be good reasons unknown to RF that he does not want to talk about – future use of land, RF having an annoying dog that wanders …

However, the farmer does not want discussion – his mind is made up so even if he has his own well thought-through reasoning he is not willing to share this with RF. Perhaps all that RF is trying to do is to look for better communication with a neighbour who he finds difficulty to relate to –

And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.

… so perhaps all RF might be doing is trying to bridge that gap, at the same time doing a bit of stirring.

An interesting aspect from this poem is the proposition that nature is against walls – typified by the opening line – ‘Something there is that doesn’t love a wall’. So perhaps the world is naturally working towards becoming more and more ‘wall free’.

Of course there are ‘good walls’ and ‘bad walls’ depending on which side of the fence you are standing and fear always makes bad mortar. It is nice to see that some of the ‘bad walls’ eventually fall for the benefit of a more inclusive world (The Berlin Wall, Apartheid in South Africa, the ‘White Australia Policy’ … and when will the North Korean barrier crumble).

But how much do we live by sayings, how much do they influence our lives, how much do the words of others hold catch to our free thinking?

And how much do we challenge those around us to explore better communication (without saying Elves)? It is only through open communication that we can attempt to explore a better world for all and to start to break down barriers – beginning with our neighbours. Perhaps time to invite one in for a cup of tea!

Footnote …

Apparently ‘Mending Wall’ is indeed autobiographical: a French-Canadian named Napoleon Guay had been Frost’s neighbor in New Hampshire, and the two had often walked along their property line and repaired the wall that separated their land. Ironically, the most famous line of the poem (“Good fences make good neighbors”) was not invented by Frost himself, but was rather a phrase that Guay frequently declared to Frost during their walks. This particular adage was a popular colonial proverb in the middle of the 17th century, but variations of it also appeared in Norway (“There must be a fence between good neighbors”), Germany (“Between neighbor’s gardens a fence is good”), Japan (“Build a fence even between intimate friends”), and even India (“Love your neighbor, but do not throw down the dividing wall”).

Above italics taken from this Website … http://www.gradesaver.com/the-poetry-of-robert-frost/study-guide/summary-mending-wall-1914

The Silken Tent – Robert Frost

THE SILKEN TENT

She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when a sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all the ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe nought to any single cord,
But strictly held by none is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To everything on earth the compass round,
And only by one’s going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.

Robert Frost (1874 – 1963)

Here is a fine example of the English sonnet by Robert Frost that takes my fancy. Iambic Pentameter with structure abab cdcd efef for the three quatrains and then the rhyming summary couplet

The opening line although a little cumbersome is perhaps ‘as good as’ … she walks in beauty like the night (Byron)

Interesting word used ‘guys‘ a double take in today’s usage that happens to fit the theme of the sonnet.

… what a wonderful way to walk the world … being special, gentle, at ease with life, and bonded to all in a loose sort of way in love and thought connected … by countless silken ties of love and thought

… and of more importance tied by a strong spiritual sense … not dependent on any one alone but everyone giving something to hold her in place to a heavenly position (to the central cedar pole) … and this heavenly connection making her effective in coverage … making the person effective in life as well as making the tent usable … imagine a sagging tent without an upright central pole

… I really like the suggested ambience in the closing couplet … and the word capricious = fanciful, unpredictable … quite fitting … moving freely in the lightness of a summer breeze – and only by going slightly taught does she (or indeed we) become aware of that heavenly connection that binds – always subtle, always latent

Here is a link to Robert Frost on Wikipedia