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Friday, February 26, 2010

Poetry Friday--After Frost

After Frost: An Anthology of Poetry from New England [811.08 AFT] is unusual in that it takes themes Robert Frost wrote about and then partners his poems with others covering roughly the same themes. Each of Frost's poems is followed by the poems of thirty New England poets. The poets chronologically follow Frost in time (Frost was born in 1874). For example, the first chapter, "The Will of the Wind," begins with Frost's "An Old Man's Winter Night." This is followed by Wallace Stevens' (b. 1879) "The Snow Man," Archibald MacLeish's (b. 1892) "The Farm," Robert Francis' (b. 1901) "The Reading of the Psalm," and ends with Martin Espada's (b. 1957)"The Music of Astronomy."

Have fun comparing the first and fourth poems in the "Fences" chapter, Frost's famous "Mending Wall" and Richard Eberhart's "Spite Fence":
Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down.' I could say 'Elves' to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, 'Good fences make good neighbors.'

Spite Fence

After years of bickerings

Family one
Put up a spite fence
Against family two.

Cheek by cheek
They couldn't stand it.
The Maine village

Looked so peaceful.
We drove through yearly,
We didn't know.

Now if you drive through
You see the split wood,
Thin and shrill.

But who's who?
Who made it,
One side or the other?

Bad neighbors make good fences.
I love Eberhart's short, zinging reply to Frost, don't you?

This week the Poetry Friday Round-Up can be found at Check It Out--check it out!

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