You’ve been very patient with Poetry Friday, since I haven’t trotted out the one poet all Americans love in almost a year—I think you deserve a reward, then, of another moment with Robert Frost. In this poem, first published in 1930, I think there are a lot of the elements that are considered classically “Frost”, but in a poem you may never have read. So, I wonder (and hope a couple of you will speak up)…why does this work? What is it about Robert Frost that gets to so many Americans of all ages and attitudes? Let’s see if we can find it here in “On Looking Up By Chance At The Constellations”:
You’ll wait a long, long time for anything much
To happen in heaven beyond the floats of cloud
And the Northern Lights that run like tingling nerves.
The sun and moon get crossed, but they never touch,
Nor strike out fire from each other nor crash out loud.
The planets seem to interfere in their curves
But nothing ever happens, no harm is done.
We may as well go patiently on with our life,
And look elsewhere than to stars and moon and sun
For the shocks and changes we need to keep us sane.
It is true the longest drouth will end in rain,
The longest peace in China will end in strife.
Still it wouldn’t reward the watcher to stay awake
In hopes of seeing the calm of heaven break
On his particular time and personal sight.
That calm seems certainly safe to last to-night.