Saturday, March 26, 2011

Robert Frost: March 26, 1874 --Jan 29, 1963

While browsing through Frost's Collected Poems, this poem jumped out at me. It was an interesting poem in its own right, it reminded me of another of Frost's poems, and it seemed to make an interesting match to a poem by Wallace Stevens that I had just posted several days ago. So, here is one of Frost's lesser known poems:

Good Hours

I had for my winter evening walk--
No one at all with whom to talk,
But I had the cottages in a row
Up to their shining eyes in snow.

And I thought I had the folk within:
I had the sound of a violin,
I had a glimpse through curtain laces
O youthful forms and youthful faces.

I had such company outward bound
I went till there were no cottages found.
I turned and repented, but coming back
I saw no window but that was black.

Over the snow my creaking feet
Disturbed the slumbering village street
Like profanation, by your leave,
At ten o'clock of a winter eve.

-- Robert Frost --

Disillusionment of Ten O'Clock

The houses are haunted
By white nightgowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather.

-- Wallace Stevens --

Both are set at ten o'clock in the evening. I wonder why that's such a popular hour. And in both poems, it appears as though the narrator is out walking along the city street.

Is the mood of the two walkers similar?


  1. Fred,

    It seems like Frost's narrator had more fondness for the neighborhood he was walking through, than Stevens had for his. Frost's description of what's in the houses seems more favorable, I think.


  2. I like the moment of repentance in Frost. Who hasn't been allured by the great dream of escape, only to have its realization turn to regret or fear or loneliness...


  3. Cheryl,

    Yes, I don't see his comments as negative. Frost tends to make comments at times that are open to interpretation, though. I wonder what he thought when he found all were in bed on his return trip.

  4. Kevin,

    I wonder if there's a connection between his moment of repentance and the fact that all are now in bed on his return trip.