My "first Frost notes" refer to what I suspect will be my first post of many on Robert Frost's poems in the coming months. I've begun my straight read-through of New Enlarged Anthology of Robert Frost's Poems, the beloved paperback that has been my favorite Frost companion for years. I've read "at" it again and again, but I have a bad habit of going mostly to the poems I know and love and not always venturing into the poems that don't immediately grab my attention in their first few lines. But Frost is one of the poets of my heart (among other things, he and I share a birthday) and I've decided this book merits slower, more methodical attention. Thus I am beginning at the beginning and plowing through, over, around and under all kinds of poems: beloved, strange, unfamiliar, not-read-that-one-for-years and more.
And my "Frost notes" here will be just that: jottings of lines that particularly grab my attention for whatever reason. I may or may not always add accompanying commentary. But I do want to use this blog as a repository for the Frost lines that speak to me with particular resonance.
Thus far, I've found (or re-found) these gems:
I had a lover's quarrel with the world. --from "The Lesson for Today"
But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a bewildered butterfly,
Seeking with memories grown dim o'er night
Some resting flower of yesterday's delight...
"Men work together," I told him from the heart,
"Whether they work together or apart."
--From "The Tuft of Flowers"
It must be on charcoal they fatten their fruit.
I taste in them sometimes the flavour of soot.
And after all really they're ebony skinned:
The blue's but a mist from the breath of the wind,
A tarnish that goes at a touch of the hand,
And less than the tan with which pickers are tanned.
-- From "Blueberries"
You couldn't care! The nearest friends can go
With anyone to death, comes so far short
They might as well not try to go at all.
--From "Home Burial"
That last line, from "Home Burial" is one that I've always found particularly poignant. I don't think it's true, by the way, that since we cannot go the whole way with someone in their grief, we shouldn't try to go at all. But I think it feels deeply true to the person travelling through deep grief, as is the woman in this poem. Therefore the line has a solid ring of realness to it, a way of making me emphatically nod my head whenever I get to it. I'm frequently in awe of how Frost captures voices, not just that they sound interesting or quirky, but that the lines of dialogue in his poems have such authenticity. It's all the more astounding when you realize how carefully metered his dialogue is. Perhaps that's not as astounding as it seems; I suspect that most of our conversation is more rhythmic than we realize. Frost must have had an uncanny ear for that though. I wonder if he found it hard to make art seem so artless.