Week 189: Come In, by Robert Frost

It can be a bit annoying when you are having an experience that you are trying to put into words and up pops someone else’s poem in your head to save you the bother. Yet who would forgo the pleasures of a well-stocked memory? This happened to me last Saturday when I was in the local woods at dusk to catch the roding flight of a woodcock, and song thrushes (now sadly vanishing from my garden) could be heard all around. ‘Far in the pillared dark/Thrush music went…’. How perfect that epithet ‘pillared’, I thought, looking at the tall straight beeches disappearing into dimness rank on rank. Here is the whole poem, where Frost contemplates his sense of apartness as a poet with a kind of wistful defiance.

Incidentally, Frost’s ‘pillared’ may well be an echo of A.E.Housman’s beautiful ‘Tell me not here, it needs not saying’ – ‘And full of shade the pillared forest/Would murmur and be mine’. Good poets borrow, great poets steal!

Come In

As I came to the edge of the woods,
Thrush music — hark!
Now if it was dusk outside,
Inside it was dark.

Too dark in the woods for a bird
By sleight of wing
To better its perch for the night,
Though it still could sing.

The last of the light of the sun
That had died in the west
Still lived for one song more
In a thrush’s breast.

Far in the pillared dark
Thrush music went —
Almost like a call to come in
To the dark and lament.

But no, I was out for stars:
I would not come in.
I meant not even if asked,
And I hadn’t been.

Robert Frost

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