Saturday, May 17, 2014

Robert Frost: "Into My Own"

Into My Own

One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as 'twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.

I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.

I do not see why I should e'er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I hold them dear.

They would not find me changed from him they knew--
Only more sure of all I thought was true.

-- Robert Frost --

This is one of his early poems, first published in A Boy's Will which first came out in 1913 and then a second edition in 1915.  For some strange reason, whenever I've opened my collection of Frost's poems, I have always skimmed by this one and never really looked closely at it, until now.  While it may be one of his early poems, it is still a classic example of Frost being his usual perverse self.

It's a growing up poem, in that the narrator hopes that the darkness of the future is ever-present: one will never know just what one will encounter, or what will encounter him.  Some of his later poems take up this issue more specifically, I think. But, here, it is enough that he realizes that he must go on, even though he may never see a clearing or "Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand."  That's a great line: I can see that wagon wheel rolling down the road, catching up and dropping the sand and dust of the road.

He sees no reason for turning back.  And, he realizes that others who miss him may wish to follow him to see if he still "hold(s) them dear."  But, the last two lines, as frequently happens in Frost's poems, turns expectancies around.  What should happen when those who have come in pursuit find him.  Why, they should find him different, for after all, people have always gone off into the wilderness to seek a vision or a new life or a new philosophy to share with others.   Aren't we products of our environment, conditioned by those around us?  Different environment = a different person,

Many psychological theories insist that there is no hard core to the personality, that there really is no "I,"  that the "I" is really a delusion, a construct of desires, momentary flitting ideas, sensory impressions, responses to our environment.  Therefore, setting off alone, without the familiar, should result in a change in the personality over a period of time as the person adjusts to the new environment and as new ideas and behaviors are incorporated.


"They would not find me changed from him they knew--
  Only more sure of all I thought was true. "

Frost disagrees for he says that they won't find him changed for this isolation, this time of separation will allow him to get a clearer view of what he is, to see himself as he really is, and, therefore, more secure in his self-image.

Another example of Frost being Frost.  


  1. Frost deserves to be read more often by more people. Your selection -- with which I was not familiar -- seems like another the zeroes in on one of Frost's recurring themes: choices.

  2. RT,

    Yes--choices--I think that's one of the most frequent themes that run through his poetry--Stopping by Woods and The Road Not Taken being the two most famous examples. .