Robert Frost

From “Two Tramps in Mud Time”:

My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.

I hate Robert Frost.

Frost wrote eloquently about everything that happens in New England in every season: spring, summer, fall, winter, bug, mud, deer and open. I’m pretty sure that if I dig deep enough, I’ll find that he has written about every one one of my animals…by name.  Yours too, if you have any. And you’re probably referenced as not having any if you don’t.

The guy could wax poetic about a management-intensive grazing plan and make me weep.

I do take comfort in knowing that, by all accounts, old RF was not much of a farmer. But he understood farming. He got it — right deep down in his soul.

“And the work is play for mortal stakes.”

At the end of every day — no matter the frustrations endured between picking my head up off the pillow and returning there — I feel as though I am getting away with something by doing this. The work — and damn hard work it is — is also play for mortal stakes. The food, the friends, the sweat and struggle are exactly as Frost describes: the exquisite combination of avocation and vocation.

“For heaven and the future’s sakes.”

For this musing on Frost, I owe thanks to Alice (who is given to reciting the great man’s verse, verbatim, at the scent of sweetfern, the sight of mud, the return of the pheobes, or the drop of a hat. It’s a neat parlor trick she’s worked up.) She reminded me of this passage in “Two Tramps,” during a raging rainstorm just this past mud season.  It’s true enough that, when she starts reciting, I sometimes run while covering my ears and chanting, “rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb…” But it’s also true that I always hear her voice when I read his words.

P.S.  I do really like RF, I’m just jealous.







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One Response to Robert Frost

  1. bkeyes says:


    Awesome lines.

    I think I’ll have to save that one for myself too.

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