Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Sunday, January 7, 2018

On those Frost lines ...

Thinking about "It Is Old Year's Day" a few days after writing and posting it (and this comes to mind at that verb's usage: "thousands at His bidding speed/ and post over land and ocean without rest"), the notion came to me that those lines from Frost must come across as nonsense, appearing there toward this poem's end.

Yet I have just re-read it, in my pencil draft here in this pad of paper, and am inclined to think it might still work for some readers. I took two lines from one, and one line from another, of Frost's two most widely known poems.

Then follows a line that sounds Frosty even if not; and then, the Frost reference that will be obscure to all who have not lived with the lines, "our faltering few steps on/ to white rest and a place of rest/ invisible at dawn."

So obscure to almost everyone.

The poem is "Stars," a snowy poem. And it has occurred to me — I cannot say if I had this in mind, when writing my noodle of "occasional verse" for the occasion — that the implacable, unmoved Wisdom in the universe, that the stars are in the poem, makes itself felt in our lives when the year ends.

For the year cannot but end.

A Frost-line found its echo, for me, two nights ago, in an effective way.

Near the end of Ursula K. Le Guin's The Farthest Shore, the aged Wizard Ged and young prince Arren enter the land of the dead: "The potter's wheel was still, the loom empty, the stove cold. No voice ever sang."

From among the earlier Frost poems that I had memorized came to mind the line, "with none among them that ever sings."

The voice in the poem "Ghost House" speaks from a place not far, in idea, from the one that Ged and Arren enter.

The irony only now has struck me that this voice belongs to one who in turn belongs to — to use Le Guin's term — the silent people. And in Frost's earlier poems, a poem is a song — perhaps literally but at least in metaphor.

This voice in Frost's poem sings, from among those who never sing.

You might say that the poet takes that which never sings, and has it sing — that being what a poet does.

Yet even so the irony remains.

Cheers ...