All poems of Robert Frost in the syllabus of Masters level (7 colleges) part 2 of 2


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Contents :  
1. ‘Out, Out—’ 
2. Fire and Ice 
3. West-Running Brook  
4. Desert Places  
5. Come In  
6. The Gift Outright 
7.  The Death of the Hired Man 



‘Out, Out—’

By Robert Frost

The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard

And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,

Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.

And from there those that lifted eyes could count

Five mountain ranges one behind the other

Under the sunset far into Vermont.

And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,

As it ran light, or had to bear a load.

And nothing happened: day was all but done.

Call it a day, I wish they might have said

To please the boy by giving him the half hour

That a boy counts so much when saved from work.

His sister stood beside him in her apron

To tell them ‘Supper.’ At the word, the saw,

As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,

Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap—

He must have given the hand. However it was,

Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!

The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh,

As he swung toward them holding up the hand

Half in appeal, but half as if to keep

The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all—

Since he was old enough to know, big boy

Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart—

He saw all spoiled. ‘Don’t let him cut my hand off—

The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!’

So. But the hand was gone already.

The doctor put him in the dark of ether.

He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.

And then—the watcher at his pulse took fright.

No one believed. They listened at his heart.

Little—less—nothing!—and that ended it.

No more to build on there. And they, since they

Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.




Fire and Ice

By Robert Frost



Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great

And would suffice.



Tree At My Window

- Poem by 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



West-Running Brook

                        - Poem by Robert Frost



‘Fred, where is north?’

‘North? North is there, my love.
The brook runs west.’

‘West-running Brook then call it.’
(West-Running Brook men call it to this day.)
‘What does it think it’s doing running west
When all the other country brooks flow east
To reach the ocean? It must be the brook
Can trust itself to go by contraries
The way I can with you — and you with me —
Because we’re — we’re — I don’t know what we are.
What are we?’

“Young or new?

“We must be something.
We’ve said we two. Let’s change that to we three.
As you and I are married to each other,
We’ll both be married to the brook. We’ll build
Our bridge across it, and the bridge shall be
Our arm thrown over it asleep beside it.
Look, look, it’s waving to us with a wave
To let us know it hears me. ”

“Why, my dear,
That wave’s been standing off this jut of shore –”
(The black stream, catching a sunken rock,
Flung backward on itself in one white wave,
And the white water rode the black forever,
Not gaining but not losing, like a bird
White feathers from the struggle of whose breast
Flecked the dark stream and flecked the darker pool
Below the point, and were at last driven wrinkled
In a white scarf against the far shore alders.)
“That wave’s been standing off this jut of shore
Ever since rivers, I was going to say,’
Were made in heaven. It wasn’t waved to us. ”

“It wasn’t, yet it was. If not to you
It was to me — in an annunciation. ”

“Oh, if you take it off to lady-land,
As’t were the country of the Amazons
We men must see you to the confines of
And leave you there, ourselves forbid to enter,-
It is your brook! I have no more to say. ”

“Yes, you have, too. Go on. You thought of something. ”

“Speaking of contraries, see how the brook
In that white wave runs counter to itself.
It is from that in water we were from
Long, long before we were from any creature.
Here we, in our impatience of the steps,
Get back to the beginning of beginnings,
The stream of everything that runs away.
Some say existence like a Pirouot
And Pirouette, forever in one place,
Stands still and dances, but it runs away,
It seriously, sadly, runs away
To fill the abyss’ void with emptiness.
It flows beside us in this water brook,
But it flows over us. It flows between us
To separate us for a panic moment.
It flows between us, over us, and with us.
And it is time, strength, tone, light, life and love-
And even substance lapsing unsubstantial;
The universal cataract of death
That spends to nothingness — and unresisted,
Save by some strange resistance in itself,
Not just a swerving, but a throwing back,
As if regret were in it and were sacred.
It has this throwing backward on itself
So that the fall of most of it is always
Raising a little, sending up a little.
Our life runs down in sending up the clock.
The brook runs down in sending up our life.
The sun runs down in sending up the brook.
And there is something sending up the sun.
It is this backward motion toward the source,
Against the stream, that most we see ourselves in,
The tribute of the current to the source.
It is from this in nature we are from.
It is most us. ”

“To-day will be the day….You said so. ”

“No, to-day will be the day
You said the brook was called West-running Brook. ”
“To-day will be the day of what we both said.”



Desert Places –

Poem by Robert Frost



Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.
The woods around it have it - it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.
And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less -
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
WIth no expression, nothing to express.
They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars - on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.



Come In –

Poem by Robert Frost



As I came to the edge of the woods,
Thrush music -- hark!
Now if it was dusk outside,
Inside it was dark.
Too dark in the woods for a bird
By sleight of wing
To better its perch for the night,
Though it still could sing.
The last of the light of the sun
That had died in the west
Still lived for one song more
In a thrush's breast.
Far in the pillared dark
Thrush music went --
Almost like a call to come in
To the dark and lament.
But no, I was out for stars;
I would not come in.
I meant not even if asked;
And I hadn't been.



The Gift Outright

By Robert Frost



The land was ours before we were the land’s.

She was our land more than a hundred years

Before we were her people. She was ours

In Massachusetts, in Virginia,

But we were England’s, still colonials,

Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,

Possessed by what we now no more possessed.

Something we were withholding made us weak

Until we found out that it was ourselves

We were withholding from our land of living,

And forthwith found salvation in surrender.

Such as we were we gave ourselves outright

(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)

To the land vaguely realizing westward,

But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,

Such as she was, such as she would become.





The Death of the Hired Man

By Robert Frost

Mary sat musing on the lamp-flame at the table

Waiting for Warren. When she heard his step,

She ran on tip-toe down the darkened passage

To meet him in the doorway with the news

And put him on his guard. ‘Silas is back.’

She pushed him outward with her through the door

And shut it after her. ‘Be kind,’ she said.

She took the market things from Warren’s arms

And set them on the porch, then drew him down

To sit beside her on the wooden steps.

‘When was I ever anything but kind to him?

But I’ll not have the fellow back,’ he said.

‘I told him so last haying, didn’t I?

If he left then, I said, that ended it.

What good is he? Who else will harbor him

At his age for the little he can do?

What help he is there’s no depending on.

Off he goes always when I need him most.

He thinks he ought to earn a little pay,

Enough at least to buy tobacco with,

So he won’t have to beg and be beholden.

“All right,” I say, “I can’t afford to pay

Any fixed wages, though I wish I could.”

“Someone else can.” “Then someone else will have to.”

I shouldn’t mind his bettering himself

If that was what it was. You can be certain,

When he begins like that, there’s someone at him

Trying to coax him off with pocket-money,—

In haying time, when any help is scarce.

In winter he comes back to us. I’m done.’

‘Sh! not so loud: he’ll hear you,’ Mary said.

‘I want him to: he’ll have to soon or late.’

‘He’s worn out. He’s asleep beside the stove.

When I came up from Rowe’s I found him here,

Huddled against the barn-door fast asleep,

A miserable sight, and frightening, too—

You needn’t smile—I didn’t recognize him—

I wasn’t looking for him—and he’s changed.

Wait till you see.’

                          ‘Where did you say he’d been?’

‘He didn’t say. I dragged him to the house,

And gave him tea and tried to make him smoke.

I tried to make him talk about his travels.

Nothing would do: he just kept nodding off.’

‘What did he say? Did he say anything?’

‘But little.’

                ‘Anything? Mary, confess

He said he’d come to ditch the meadow for me.’

‘Warren!’

              ‘But did he? I just want to know.’

‘Of course he did. What would you have him say?

Surely you wouldn’t grudge the poor old man

Some humble way to save his self-respect.

He added, if you really care to know,

He meant to clear the upper pasture, too.

That sounds like something you have heard before?

Warren, I wish you could have heard the way

He jumbled everything. I stopped to look

Two or three times—he made me feel so queer—

To see if he was talking in his sleep.

He ran on Harold Wilson—you remember—

The boy you had in haying four years since.

He’s finished school, and teaching in his college.

Silas declares you’ll have to get him back.

He says they two will make a team for work:

Between them they will lay this farm as smooth!

The way he mixed that in with other things.

He thinks young Wilson a likely lad, though daft

On education—you know how they fought

All through July under the blazing sun,

Silas up on the cart to build the load,

Harold along beside to pitch it on.’

‘Yes, I took care to keep well out of earshot.’

‘Well, those days trouble Silas like a dream.

You wouldn’t think they would. How some things linger!

Harold’s young college boy’s assurance piqued him.

After so many years he still keeps finding

Good arguments he sees he might have used.

I sympathize. I know just how it feels

To think of the right thing to say too late.

Harold’s associated in his mind with Latin.

He asked me what I thought of Harold’s saying

He studied Latin like the violin

Because he liked it—that an argument!

He said he couldn’t make the boy believe

He could find water with a hazel prong—

Which showed how much good school had ever done him.

He wanted to go over that. But most of all

He thinks if he could have another chance

To teach him how to build a load of hay—’

‘I know, that’s Silas’ one accomplishment.

He bundles every forkful in its place,

And tags and numbers it for future reference,

So he can find and easily dislodge it

In the unloading. Silas does that well.

He takes it out in bunches like big birds’ nests.

You never see him standing on the hay

He’s trying to lift, straining to lift himself.’

‘He thinks if he could teach him that, he’d be

Some good perhaps to someone in the world.

He hates to see a boy the fool of books.

Poor Silas, so concerned for other folk,

And nothing to look backward to with pride,

And nothing to look forward to with hope,

So now and never any different.’

Part of a moon was falling down the west,

Dragging the whole sky with it to the hills.

Its light poured softly in her lap. She saw it

And spread her apron to it. She put out her hand

Among the harp-like morning-glory strings,

Taut with the dew from garden bed to eaves,

As if she played unheard some tenderness

That wrought on him beside her in the night.

‘Warren,’ she said, ‘he has come home to die:

You needn’t be afraid he’ll leave you this time.’

‘Home,’ he mocked gently.

                                       ‘Yes, what else but home?

It all depends on what you mean by home.

Of course he’s nothing to us, any more

Than was the hound that came a stranger to us

Out of the woods, worn out upon the trail.’

‘Home is the place where, when you have to go there,

They have to take you in.’

                                      ‘I should have called it

Something you somehow haven’t to deserve.’

Warren leaned out and took a step or two,

Picked up a little stick, and brought it back

And broke it in his hand and tossed it by.

‘Silas has better claim on us you think

Than on his brother? Thirteen little miles

As the road winds would bring him to his door.

Silas has walked that far no doubt today.

Why didn’t he go there? His brother’s rich,

A somebody—director in the bank.’

‘He never told us that.’

                                  ‘We know it though.’

‘I think his brother ought to help, of course.

I’ll see to that if there is need. He ought of right

To take him in, and might be willing to—

He may be better than appearances.

But have some pity on Silas. Do you think

If he’d had any pride in claiming kin

Or anything he looked for from his brother,

He’d keep so still about him all this time?’

‘I wonder what’s between them.’

                                                ‘I can tell you.

Silas is what he is—we wouldn’t mind him—

But just the kind that kinsfolk can’t abide.

He never did a thing so very bad.

He don’t know why he isn’t quite as good

As anyone. Worthless though he is,

He won’t be made ashamed to please his brother.’

‘I can’t think Si ever hurt anyone.’

‘No, but he hurt my heart the way he lay

And rolled his old head on that sharp-edged chair-back.

He wouldn’t let me put him on the lounge.

You must go in and see what you can do.

I made the bed up for him there tonight.

You’ll be surprised at him—how much he’s broken.

His working days are done; I'm sure of it.’

‘I’d not be in a hurry to say that.’

 ‘I haven’t been. Go, look, see for yourself.

But, Warren, please remember how it is:

He’s come to help you ditch the meadow.

He has a plan. You mustn’t laugh at him.

He may not speak of it, and then he may.

I’ll sit and see if that small sailing cloud

Will hit or miss the moon.’

                                      It hit the moon.

Then there were three there, making a dim row,

The moon, the little silver cloud, and she.

Warren returned—too soon, it seemed to her,

Slipped to her side, caught up her hand and waited.

‘Warren,’ she questioned.

                                     ‘Dead,’ was all he answered






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