Giving Robert Frost Another Chance On Friday Night

Like any other wild friday night my roommate and I were listening to some poetry recordings. I put on “An Album of Modern Poetry Vol.1” that I had bought for the Wallace Stevens and T.S. Eliot on it. First up, however, was Robert Frost; that “two roads” guy who I associated with all of those horrible token poetry days in middle school. I might have skipped forward if I wasn’t tired, and a generally lazy person. By the time he was reading a third poem, “Directive”, I was falling asleep because I wasn’t paying an attention. “Directive” demanded it.

I can’t find a recording of it online, which is a shame because Frost’s gravelly voice really adds to the experience, and the poem is a little long to copy paste entirely, so here are the first four lines. And <a href=>here’s</a> the poem for reading at your leisure.

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,

The 4th line literally pulled me out of quasi-sleep. If it wasn’t for our quick lesson on meter I probably would have attributed this to the hard sounds of that beautiful cluster “graveyard marble sculpture”, which is certainly part of it, but more than that I think its how highly stressed the line is, how it breaks you out of the lulling first three lines with their slant rhyme. I had never really thought about meter before, so I had never really thought about it can be used to emphasize lines where I might have been trying to achieve the same effect with punctuation or italics. The idea of writing with meter is still daunting to me, but the more I find examples like this the more appealing it becomes to me.

One Reply to “Giving Robert Frost Another Chance On Friday Night”

  1. Ha! Great to know that whistle-stop tour led to something other than confusion. Yes, that’s exactly it about how the rhythm, the meter, is changing, how that’s meant to startle you awake. And Frost is more wily – dare I say, experimental – than we give him credit for. In his poem ‘A Considerable Speck’ he sneaks an anagram in…

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