Thursday, March 4, 2010

Robert Frost


“The Need of Being Versed in Country Things” (1920)
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (1923)
“Gathering Leaves” (1923)
“In Disused Graveyard” (1923)
“Nothing Gold Can Stay” (1923)
“Desert Places” (1934)
“Two Tramps in Mud Time” (1934)
“Neither Out Far Nor In Deep” (1934)
“Never Again Would Birds’ Song Be the Same” (1942)
“The Gift Outright” (1942)

On The Gift Outright:
Out of the poems I read, this one was the hardest for me to get, and I think it was because its message was the one I needed most to hear.

“Possessed by what we were still unpossessed by” (6), we living in what would be America were colonials from places we had once possessed, places for which we had once fought. Now here, we applied out energies to other things; the speaker calls our new attention weakness (8). File that away for further thought. Yet, we chose and broke out of this. (Is ‘surrender’ (11) meant to make us primal or noble?). We became “such as we were” (12) and fought for this new land. Afterward, we began a smoldering campaign westward; meanwhile, leaving behind no great art and no great stories. When I first read this poem, I took the ending to be bleak, but some time having past, I took the ending as a reproof, a gentle rebuke. The speaker, in on sense commends action (“salvation in surrender” (11)) and condemns misappropriation (“artless, unenhanced” (15)) He wants us to act but not absent of thought. The speaker calls us to do something, to leave something behind.

This part about rebuke I needed to hear. Can I be open enough to accept life-giving words from another? Can I accept criticism? Is my life so perfect that I don’t need to change? There is so much that I am not and so much that I cannot do. I need brokenness, humility, practice in listening to others, practice at doing an honest day’s work. I need to let this sink in.

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