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14 July 2004 @ 12:47 am
Birches, by Robert Frost  
When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Robert Frost (1874–1963), Mountain Interval, 1920.
gigawatz on July 14th, 2004 05:03 pm (UTC)
Robert Frost is an ass.
Victoriabikutoria on July 14th, 2004 05:36 pm (UTC)
Who did Bishop quote from in your yearbook?
gigawatz on July 15th, 2004 04:20 am (UTC)
Frost is a poetical tyrant, he was once quoted saying that writing free verse poetry is like playing tennis wihtout a net. The man was some sort of self made elitist who was later boughten by hallmark for their evil schemes of dominating the greeting card industry by making new holidays to push sales. Secretaries Day? Where the hell did that come from? A holiday that rewards workers for doing their jobs? Please! Thats like having a sanitation management engineers day. The card could read like this, "thanks for picking up my trash, I hope the sex creams never gave you a rash." There Frost, that was a couplet. What did you think? I like it very much I may as well copywrite it and send it to Hallmark along with an invoice.
And as for my yearbook, I'll have to get back with you on that.
Victoriabikutoria on July 15th, 2004 05:52 am (UTC)
I didn't rise to the bait, yet you ranted anyway. Dude, I'm so impressed. Go David!

Have you not yet had your morning caffeine (or maybe too much?), or should I remember that Frost is someone that will guarantee ticking you off in the future?
Pitten \\ Chaotic Serenitywrongly_amused on July 15th, 2004 11:47 am (UTC)
S'nice poem. I always liked Robert Frost, though I'm gonna go all stereotypical on you and say "The Road Not Taken" is my favorite. Or "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." Such a lovely flow those poems have. ^_^