Blank Verse


unrhymed iambic pentameter. Blank verse is the meter of most of Shakespeare’s plays, as well as that of Milton’s Paradise Lost.


Birches
Robert Frost


When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm,
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.
I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:
I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.
I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

The poem “Birches”, by Robert Frost, was written in blank verse to accentuate the “story-telling” style Frost wrote in. He discusses a realistic point of view of how the birches were bent vs. an imaginative view on the subject. He quickly establishes that he knows the real reason as to why the birches are bent – ice storms have weighed the branches of the trees down, causing them to bend over – he prefers instead to imagine that something entirely different has happened. He imagines that a young boy has climbed to the top of the trees (pulling them down), rode the trees as they droop down and then spring back up over and over again until the trees become permanently arched over.

Link: Tank Nurse




"You don't deserve your mother's love. You have to deserve your father's."

~Robert Frost

Robert Frost

      Robert Lee Frost was born in San Francisco on March 26, 1874 to Isabelle Moodie, a Scottish schoolteacher, and William Prescott Frost, Jr., a journalist, local politician and ancestor of Devonshire Frost who had sailed to New Hampshire in 1634. 
      Frost's family lived in California until his father had died when he was just eleven. He moved with his mother and sister to Lawrence, Massachusetts to live with his paternal grandfather. 
      In 1892, Frost graduated from high school and attended Dartmouth College and was a member of the Theta Delta Chi fraternity. While attending college, Frost's first poem, "My Butterfly: An Elegy", was published in the New York Independent, which earned him $15, and had five poems published privately in 1894. 
      In 1895, Frost married a former schoolmate, Elinor White; they had six children. Frost then became a teacher and continued publishing his poems in magazines to support his family. From 1897 to 1899, Frost attended Harvard, but failed to receive a degree. The couple moved to Derry, New Hampshire, where Frost worked as a cobbler, farmer and teacher at Pinkerton Academy and a state normal school in Plymouth. 
       As the couple grew tired of farm life, they needed a change. Robert wanted to move to Vancouver and Elinor England, so England it was. In 1912 the couple sold their farm and moved to the Gloucestershire village of Dymock, where Robert became a full-time poet. The next year, A Boy's Will was published. The book received international fame and contains many of Frost's best-known poems: Mending Wall, The Death of the Hired Man, Home Burial, After Apple-Picking and The Wood-Pile. While in England, Frost made notable contacts with fellow poets as Ezra Pound (who gave Frost his first favorable review by an American), T.E. Hulme and Edward Thomas. 
      Frost returned to America in 1915 and bought a farm in Franconia, New Hampshire to farther his career in writing, teaching and lecturing. From 1916 to 1938, Frost worked as an English professor at Amherst College. He encouraged his students to bring the sound of man to their writings. Also in 1916, Frost was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and published his third collection of verse, Moutain Interval
      In 1920, Frost purchased a farm in South Shaftsbur, Vermont. Robert's wife died in 1938, followed by four of his children. He suffered from long boughts of depression and continual self-doubt. After the death of his wife, he employed Kay Morrison, who he became strongly attracted to. One of his finest love poems, A Witness Tree, was composed for her. 
      During the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, Frost recited one of his poems, The Gift Outright. Robert also represented the United States on several other official missions. He became known for his poems that interplay voices, such as The Death of the Hired Man, and received numerous literary and academic honors. 
      Robert Lee Frost died on January 29, 1963 and is buried in the Old Bennington Cemetery in Bennington, Vermont.

(http://www.poemofquotes.com/robertfrost/)