Tuesday, July 23, 2013

When Two Roads Diverge, You Know Which Way To Go

We were in New Hampshire, on our way somewhere else altogether, when James saw the sign.  I zipped across a few lanes of traffic and we followed the signs to Derry, NH, and the Robert Frost farm.  He lived there for about ten years, and James was in heaven.  We walked over the grounds and I saw the wall from Mending Wall (pictured above).  He wrote the poem a few years later, in England, about this wall that he'd repair, year after year, with his neighbor.  I wrote a (bad) paper on this poem early in my college career.  I didn't understand the poem, and I knew I didn't understand it, and I've thought about it ever since, trying to understand it.  Seeing it in person was quite stirring.  Something there is that doesn't love a wall, indeed.

As James and I walked back toward the farm house and our car, we talked about how James has always loved Robert Frost's work, though it is a bit out of vogue.  We talked about trends, and how sometimes people don't like work that is too accessible (see: Billy Collins).  James said that his work was just kind of out of style.  From the laminated sheet the rangers had given us for our walking tour, I read aloud the first half of Mowing:

There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.
What was it it whispered? I know not well myself;
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,
Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound--
And that was why it whispered and did not speak.

Then James and I exchanged a look that said, "words like that never go out of style".

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