Oct 3, 2012

Robert Frost's "The Pasture," a Mayor on Trial, a Boy Fishing

Rt. 4, north of Bucyrus, Ohio
near Corydon, Indiana
Here is a small, fairly well known Robert Frost poem, “The Pasture.” The key to its success, if there is success, is that curious, unexpected refrain, “You come too.” Is that or anything else in the poem sufficient for putting it in the company of Frost’s best known work? We don't know the response of the invited one (wife? child? friend?), and I think that creates a surprising amount of tension. Has the speaker been turned down quite a bit prior to this event? It all seems casual, but maybe a good bit is at stake. What a lot of relationship Frost has worked into half a line that seems about as simple as it can be. 

Yet I wonder: will this physically small poem fit into the pantheon of Frost's most admired works? My jury is out.

The Pasture by Robert Frost : The Poetry Foundation

The Judge, Kent Lake, Michigan, Sept. 16, 2012

Addison Oaks County Park, near Romeo, Michigan, September 30, 2012

Speaking of juries, one of the jurors seated for the trial of ex-mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has been dismissed for repeatedly falling asleep during the proceedings—and this in the first week of a trial predicted to last four months. Of course, it’s comic at first. And after the lawyers’ wrangling about venue and a racially appropriate group of twelve, plus alternates, it was tempting to think, “After all that, you give us a narcoleptic!”  One more slap in the face of Detroit, which has no more cheeks to turn.

Then came two important bits of info:  the sleeper is a white woman who’s been working the night shift for some time; her body could not adapt to the demands of a new clock. So even in an urban circus, there was a call for pathos, it seemed to me.

Addison Oaks, Michigan, 9.30.12

And that brought me back to the kindness or affection—or the gentle something—in Frost’s small poem and the fishing boy in my photo. That cast was a lefty backhand, by the way, very smooth, perfect form. 

I hope that Detroit juror can keep her identity secret. There are many ways to be embarrassed, not to mention being overworked (see Frost’s “After Apple Picking,” which I posted and we discussed about a year ago:  http://banjo52.blogspot.com/search?q=after+apple+picking ). There ought to be  many ways to be kind, to say "You come too," even for politicians. 

The Pasture by Robert Frost : The Poetry Foundation


Anonymous said...

I really like the poem. It strikes me as something one would say to friend having an anxiety attack, or to a child who just lost the best dog in the world.

Yes, I really like the poem. But I really, really like your photo. You're very gifted, you know.

Banjo52 said...

Wow, thanks, AH. And yes, I can hear a bit, or a lot, of caretaker tone in the speaker--as well as some imploring out of his own sense of need. "You come too" is an example of the kind of conciseness, density, and shockingly just-right, perfectly timed phrasing that I find missing in so much of poetry (these days, but also in the past). I want--presumably many of us want--a word or phrase that stops us in our tracks every two or three lines. Emily said a poem should blow off the top of your head. I'll never hear "You come too" the same way again.

Stickup Artist said...

For some (no doubt highly personal) reason, I immediately thought the phrase "You come too" was directed towards a lost (ignored, forgotten) part of the self. And I totally concur with Altadena Hiker about the poem and especially, the photographer and the photography. Of course, I totally enjoy being introduced to new poets and poems, revisiting others, and the discussions, but I honestly think your photography could easily carry the day front and center. Just my biased and humble opinion ;-)

Banjo52 said...

Stickup, your opinions are always welcome--as long as they flatter me. But seriously, thank you. I'm trying to make myself hang on to the poetry search because I always learn something from it AND because I wonder if some visitors come here primarily for that. I hope no one feels s/he has to comment on or argue about the poetry. It's conversation in general that I hope for.

Your personal perspective on the Frost makes sense to me. I think his leaving "you" open-ended is part of the poem's wisdom, though I usually I don't like that kind of thing. It can be very gimmicky.

I'm pretty sure I've also seen an editor or two suggest that "you" is the reader. I'm not adamantly against that, but I like the other possibilities better.

Jean Spitzer said...

I agree, about the photographs.

Too ignorant to opine on the poem.

Anonymous said...

No, no, no -- don't drop the poetry.

Banjo52 said...

Jean, thanks, and no, you're not. But no pressure.

AH, thanks. Back to your first comment--are you hearing a tone at least a little like Franz Wright's "I'm going to buy you a sandwich" a few posts ago? That just occurred to me as a possibility. Comfort with maybe just a touch of parental condescension? "You, come too. You'll feel better after. I promise."

Brenda's Arizona said...

What a sweet short uplifting Frost poem!
You must be 'you', the reader. I like it that way, so why pursue lesser vehicles of interpretations? Others will just disappoint.

And I agree with AH!! Snap away, Banjomyn, but include the poetry.

OK, share the poetry and include photos. Priorities.

Brenda's Arizona said...

P.S. - I'm rootin' for the Tigers, Banjomyn!!! With Verlander AND Miguel Cabrera, a World Series would be the topping on the cake!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Come with me - "Comfort with maybe just a touch of parental condescension?" better then the one I grew up with "I'll give you something to cry about"

I liked the line "it totters with her lick" but was disturbed by the idea that the calf was being removed. Where is it being removed too? a life lived for veal?

Banjo52 said...

Brenda and all, thanks for the encouragement. Both poems and photos will keep coming, though maybe not a poem every time.

Go, Tigers. What a season. If they lose out now, I'll try not to complain. They've given more than enough already.

PA, I heard that line a few times, but not often. The veal is coming from somewhere, but let's hope not this calf.

Lovers' Lane