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About this Poem 

From Mountain Interval ​(Henry Holt, 1916)

 

The Hill Wife

LONELINESS
(Her Word)

One ought not to have to care
  So much as you and I
Care when the birds come round the house
  To seem to say good-bye;

Or care so much when they come back     
  With whatever it is they sing;
The truth being we are as much
  Too glad for the one thing

As we are too sad for the other here—
  With birds that fill their breasts      
But with each other and themselves
 And their built or driven nests.

 

HOUSE FEAR

Always—I tell you this they learned—
Always at night when they returned
To the lonely house from far away        
To lamps unlighted and fire gone gray,
They learned to rattle the lock and key
To give whatever might chance to be
Warning and time to be off in flight:
And preferring the out- to the in-door night,       
They learned to leave the house-door wide
Until they had lit the lamp inside.

 

THE SMILE
(Her Word)

I didn’t like the way he went away.
That smile! It never came of being gay.
Still he smiled—did you see him?—I was sure!     
Perhaps because we gave him only bread
And the wretch knew from that that we were poor.
Perhaps because he let us give instead
Of seizing from us as he might have seized.
Perhaps he mocked at us for being wed,
Or being very young (and he was pleased
To have a vision of us old and dead).
I wonder how far down the road he’s got.
He’s watching from the woods as like as not.

 

THE OFT-REPEATED DREAM

She had no saying dark enough
  For the dark pine that kept
Forever trying the window-latch
  Of the room where they slept.

The tireless but ineffectual hands
  That with every futile pass      
Made the great tree seem as a little bird
  Before the mystery of glass!

It never had been inside the room,
  And only one of the two
Was afraid in an oft-repeated dream     
  Of what the tree might do.

 

THE IMPULSE

It was too lonely for her there,
  And too wild,
And since there were but two of them,
  And no child,

And work was little in the house,
  She was free,
And followed where he furrowed field,
  Or felled tree. 

She rested on a log and tossed
  The fresh chips,
With a song only to herself
  On her lips.

And once she went to break a bough
  Of black alder.
She strayed so far she scarcely heard
  When he called her—

And didn’t answer—didn’t speak—
  Or return.
She stood, and then she ran and hid        
  In the fern.

He never found her, though he looked
  Everywhere,
And he asked at her mother’s house
  Was she there.      

Sudden and swift and light as that
  The ties gave,
And he learned of finalities
  Besides the grave.

 

This poem is in the public domain. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

Robert Frost

Robert Frost

One of the most celebrated poets in America, Robert Frost was an author of searching and often dark meditations on universal themes and a quintessentially modern poet in his adherence to language as it is actually spoken, in the psychological complexity of his portraits, and in the degree to which his work is infused with layers of ambiguity and irony.

by this poet

poem
Lovers, forget your love,
     And list to the love of these,
She a window flower,
     And he a winter breeze.

When the frosty window veil
     Was melted down at noon,
And the cagèd yellow bird
     Hung over her in tune,

He marked her through the pane,
     He could not help but mark,
And only passed her by
poem
They leave us so to the way we took,
     As two in whom they were proved mistaken,
That we sit sometimes in the wayside nook,
With mischievous, vagrant, seraphic look,
     And try if we cannot feel forsaken.
poem
Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air

That crossed me from sweet things,
The flow of—was it musk
From hidden grapevine springs
Downhill at dusk?

I had the swirl and ache
From sprays of honeysuckle
That when they're gathered shake
Dew on the knuckle