Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Frosty Morning Poems

The frosty mornings of this week called to mind two of my favorite poems This first is by Robert Frost, perhaps not one of his most well-known but what images he creates here.

AN OLD MAN'S WINTER NIGHT 

by Robert Frost

All out of doors looked darkly in at him
Through the thin frost, almost in separate stars,
That gathers on the pane in empty rooms.
What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze
Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.
What kept him from remembering what it was
That brought him to that creaking room was age.
He stood with barrels round him -- at a loss.
And having scared the cellar under him
In clomping there, he scared it once again
In clomping off; -- and scared the outer night,
Which has its sounds, familiar, like the roar
Of trees and crack of branches, common things,
But nothing so like beating on a box.
A light he was to no one but himself
Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what,
A quiet light, and then not even that.
He consigned to the moon, such as she was,
So late-arising, to the broken moon
As better than the sun in any case
For such a charge, his snow upon the roof,
His icicles along the wall to keep;
And slept. The log that shifted with a jolt
Once in the stove, disturbed him and he shifted,
And eased his heavy breathing, but still slept.
One aged man -- one man -- can't keep a house,
A farm, a countryside, or if he can,
It's thus he does it of a winter night.

The second is by Ted Kooser, who is probably my favorite poet, if I had to choose just one. His words paint pictures, but there is as much under the surface of the images as a person cares to seek out. Kooser was the 13th US Poet Laureate. His book Winter Morning Walks is my winter morning companion during the cold season.

ABANDONED FARMHOUSE

by Ted Kooser

He was a big man, says the size of his shoes
on a pile of broken dishes by the house; 
a tall man too, says the length of the bed
in an upstairs room; and a good, God-fearing man,
says the Bible with a broken back
on the floor below the window, dusty with sun;
but not a man for farming, say the fields
cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn.




A woman lived with him, says the bedroom wall
papered with lilacs and the kitchen shelves
covered with oilcloth, and they had a child,
says the sandbox made from a tractor tire.
Money was scarce, say the jars of plum preserves
and canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar hole.
And the winters cold, say the rags in the window frames.
It was lonely here, says the narrow country road.

Something went wrong, says the empty house
in the weed-choked yard. Stones in the fields
say he was not a farmer; the still-sealed jars
in the cellar say she left in a nervous haste.
And the child? Its toys are strewn in the yard
like branches after a storm—a rubber cow,
a rusty tractor with a broken plow,
a doll in overalls. Something went wrong, they say.


Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

6 comments:

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I'd never encountered the work of Ted Kooser before, but I like that poem, and a few more I found on-line, very much. Thanks, Sue.

Mac n' Janet said...

Liked the first poem, but absolutely loved the second one. I'd never heard of this poet before. Such a picture he has painted.

Granny Sue said...

John, his words are so simple, but laced together so beautifully. I'm glad you enjoyed the poem, and went seeking more.

Granny Sue said...

Frost was an artist with words, painting those rustic scenes so vividly, and the poor old lonely man--I have seen such men, Janet, and they break my heart.

I'm am so glad my friends also see the beauty of Kooser's work.

Bbj said...

Loved teaching poetry
Love these !!

Brig said...

The last one pulls at my heart strings. Thanks for sharing.

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