Monday, September 22, 2014

Robert Frost: "Misgiving"

An Autumn Poem----


All crying, 'We will go with you, O Wind !'
The foliage follow him, leaf and stem;
But a sleep oppresses them as they go,
And they end by bidding him stay with them. 

Since ever they flung abroad in spring
The leaves had promised themselves this flight,
Who now would  fain seek sheltering wall,
Or thicket, or hollow place for the night.

And now they answer his summoning blast
With an ever vaguer and vaguer stir,
Or at utmost a little reluctant whirl
That drops them no further than where they were.

I only hope that when I am free
As they are free to go in quest
Of the knowledge beyond the bounds of life
It may not seem better to me to rest. 

-- Robert Frost --

The usual debate is whether there is life after death.  Is the soul or some sort of life force immortal and does it survive the death of the body?  Frost, being Frost, doesn't see it that way in this poem, naturally.  In the last stanza, Frost's usual place for mischief, he posits it a different way.  He fears that he may follow the lead of leaf and branch and flower and take his final rest instead of attempting to go beyond what knowledge we have gained from life and finding out if there is something more.

A very disturbing thought.  We spend much of our lives wondering about, speculating about, arguing about, even killing others who disagree about the possibility of life after death and then be too tired to find out when we have the opportunity.   Typical Frost--always off on his own somewhere.


  1. So do you think there's life after death?

  2. Frost is off on his own somewhere? But we cannot help but follow him when we read him. It is too bad that Frost is largely under-represented in curricula in today's literature courses. Perhaps he will go the way of Longfellow and his 19th century antecedents. Of course, there is this irony: many students think Frost is very simple. Ah, the innocence of youth is wonderful. Happy autumn to you.

  3. Di,

    No evidence supporting the idea of life after death. So far, nobody has been able to prove the opposite. However, in this plane of existence the soul, if there is one, c learly needs body to function. So, what happens to the soul when the body is destroyed?

    Now, is there another plane of existence? I haven't seen any evidence, so who knows? My hunch is that death ends it.

  4. RT,

    Posts about Robert Frost, including his poetry, are some of the most popular on my blog. If the stats are accurate, a post of a poem by Frost is the third most popular post I have. So, maybe he isn't just ready to be forgotten yet.

  5. Di,

    I would prefer, of course, that there is some sort of existence that wasn't punishment for misdeeds as defined by any of the millions of deities as imagined by various humans.