moon, meadow, mountain

As far as I can see this autumn haze
That spreading in the evening air both ways,
Makes the new moon look anything but new,
And pours the elm-tree meadow full of blue,
Is all the smoke from one poor house alone
With but one chimney it can call its own;
So close it will not light an early light,
Keeping its life so close and out of sight,
No one for hours has set a foot outdoors
So much as to take care of evening chores.
The inmates may be lonely women-folk.
I want to tell them that with all this smoke
They prudently are spinning their cocoon
And anchoring it to an earth and moon
From which no winter gale can hope to blow it,--
Spinning their own cocoon did they but know it. 
Robert Frost

When I first encountered Robert Frost, as a quiet, cardigan-wearing university student with big glasses and a bag full of books, I felt such a sense of relief, an easing of sorrow I'd never understood that I'd carried - for here, finally, was someone who wrote in the rhythm of my own breath. I knew and loved many wonderful authors, but none resonated with me so perfectly as Frost. Something about the way he used moon, meadow ... simple words laid down with tenderness ... touched upon my sense of the beauty of the ordinary. After that, the world felt more right to me.

I was at university for several years and learned a great deal. I will always remember the bear-like lecturer who had a rollercoaster of a laugh for Jane Austen, and a gentle black-bearded smile for Yeats ... and the half-mad lecturer who believed Emily Dickinson was lesbian ... and hearing myself speak fluent Italian for one glorious, evanescent conversation which got me an A-grade but no permanent grasp of the language. I will remember sitting in a high, quiet room as the world went gold-winged and somnolent with sunset, reading Arthurian legends in Middle English, dreaming of dragons, dreaming of books I would one day write. But the best gift university gave me was an introduction to a kindred voice, and the realisation that we're not necessarily fundamentally alone in this world. The way Robert Frost says mountain is like the sound of home.


  1. I felt the same when I read John Keats for the first time at school, aged 17. He was my first teen soulmate, and I was deeply in love with him. (Enid Blyton had kept me safe as a child as I dreamed of family holidays and boarding schools...) And at university it was studying the English mystics - Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe - in a wee room filled with books and manuscripts in a tower at Blackfriars taught by a wise Dominican friar, that I felt truly 'At Home' in body and soul.
    Such precious memories stirred by your beautiful words, Sarah, thank you xx

  2. I am not university educated but have always had a love of reading and writing poetry inherited from my father I suspect. It was not until later in life that I have discovered poets that speak in my language, who take me to places in my mind that I had no idea were there. Your posts always read like poetry to me, sometimes I don't fully understand them, but I roll the words around my tongue and enjoy the taste of them.

  3. robert frost is wonderful. his words make iconic the simple things of daily life all around you said, "simple words laid down with tenderness", exactly so. for some reason, frost is inextricably entwined in my mind with the painter andrew wyeth; wyeth's paintings remind me of frost's poems. they have a restrained palette, their subject matter is ordinary people and simple rural things, but they are emotionally rich and full of story. like the moon, or a flower, or any human life...

    1. Yes, you're so right - a Frost poem + a Wyeth painting = just perfect! They do speak the same language, but in different media - a wonderful connection!