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The Wood-Pile(1914)

Robert Frost

Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day,
MeterOut walking in the frozen swamp one gray day,
I paused and said, “I will turn back from here.
MeterI paused and said, “I will turn back from here.
No, I will go on farther–and we shall see.”
MeterNo, I will go on farther–and we shall see.”
The hard snow held me, save where now and then
MeterThe hard snow held me, save where now and then
One foot went through. The view was all in lines
MeterOne foot went through. The view was all in lines
Straight up and down of tall slim trees
MeterStraight up and down of tall slim trees
Too much alike to mark or name a place by
MeterToo much alike to mark or name a place by
So as to say for certain I was here
MeterSo as to say for certain I was here
Or somewhere else: I was just far from home.
MeterOr somewhere else: I was just far from home.
A small bird flew before me. He was careful
MeterA small bird flew before me. He was careful
To put a tree between us when he lighted,
MeterTo put a tree between us when he lighted,
And say no word to tell me who he was
MeterAnd say no word to tell me who he was
Who was so foolish as to think what he thought.
MeterWho was so foolish as to think what he thought.
He thought that I was after him for a feather–
MeterHe thought that I was after him for a feather–
The white one in his tail; like one who takes
MeterThe white one in his tail; like one who takes
Everything said as personal to himself.
MeterEverything said as personal to himself.
One flight out sideways would have undeceived him.
MeterOne flight out sideways would have undeceived him.
And then there was a pile of wood for which
MeterAnd then there was a pile of wood for which
I forgot him and let his little fear
MeterI forgot him and let his little fear
Carry him off the way I might have gone,
MeterCarry him off the way I might have gone,
Without so much as wishing him good-night.
MeterWithout so much as wishing him good-night.
He went behind it to make his last stand.
MeterHe went behind it to make his last stand.
It was a cord of maple, cut and split
MeterIt was a cord of maple, cut and split
And piled–and measured, four by four by eight.
MeterAnd piled–and measured, four by four by eight.
And not another like it could I see.
MeterAnd not another like it could I see.
No runner tracks in this year’s snow looped near it.
MeterNo runner tracks in this year’s snow looped near it.
And it was older sure than this year’s cutting,
MeterAnd it was older sure than this year’s cutting,
Or even last year’s or the year’s before.
MeterOr even last year’s or the year’s before.
The wood was gray and the bark warping off it
MeterThe wood was gray and the bark warping off it
And the pile somewhat sunken. Clematis
MeterAnd the pile somewhat sunken. Clematis
Had wound strings round and round it like a bundle.
MeterHad wound strings round and round it like a bundle.
What held it though on one side was a tree
MeterWhat held it though on one side was a tree
Still growing, and on one a stake and prop,
MeterStill growing, and on one a stake and prop,
These latter about to fall. I thought that only
MeterThese latter about to fall. I thought that only
Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
MeterSomeone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
Could so forget his handiwork on which
MeterCould so forget his handiwork on which
He spent himself, the labor of his ax,
MeterHe spent himself, the labor of his ax,
And leave it there far from a useful fireplace
MeterAnd leave it there far from a useful fireplace
To warm the frozen swamp as best it could
MeterTo warm the frozen swamp as best it could
With the slow smokeless burning of decay.
MeterWith the slow smokeless burning of decay.

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