Earth’s the Right Place for Love

 

ClassroomAs a pre-emptive act of self-defense, I wish to post Birches, by Robert Frost. This won’t mean anything to you until you listen to the podcast that Rob, James and I just recorded, but when you do, and you get to the end, and hear Rob and James berate me for failing to share their Mr. Science-like goggling enthusiasm for NASA — well, then you’ll know what I mean.

As I say, a pre-emptive act of self-defense:

Birches

By 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
As ice-storms do. 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-colored
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.

There are 20 comments.

  1. Barkha Herman Member

    I dunno Peter, Love on Mars sounds like fun…

    • #1
    • July 15, 2015, at 2:36 PM PDT
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  2. Seawriter Member

    Okay, Peter Robinson – how do you get the lines in the poem not to have a space between them? You can do that in a comment by holding the shift key down when you hit enter, but that does not work in a conversation. I have stopped posting poetry because of that.

    Seawriter

    • #2
    • July 15, 2015, at 2:43 PM PDT
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  3. James Gawron Thatcher

    Peter,

    “Earth’s the Right Place for Love”

    Alright Peter, if you and Robert Frost say so, I guess Earth is. Actually, Barkha may have something since the gravity on Mars is so much less and..ah..never mind.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #3
    • July 15, 2015, at 2:51 PM PDT
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  4. Peter Robinson Founder
    Peter Robinson Post author

    Seawriter:Okay, Peter Robinson – how do you get the lines in the poem not to have a space between them? You can do that in a comment by holding the shift key down when you hit enter, but that does not work in a conversation. I have stopped posting poetry because of that.

    Seawriter

    Gee, Seawriter, I just found the poem online, copied it, and pasted it in here at Ricochet. Believe me, it required no technical expertise. (If it had, I couldn’t have done it.)

    • #4
    • July 15, 2015, at 2:53 PM PDT
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  5. Percival Thatcher

    Seawriter, hold down the Shift key when you hit Enter.

    • #5
    • July 15, 2015, at 3:32 PM PDT
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  6. Seawriter Member

    Percival:Seawriter, hold down the Shift key when you hit Enter.

    Doesn’t work with conversations. Only with comments.

    Seawriter

    • #6
    • July 15, 2015, at 3:33 PM PDT
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  7. Seawriter Member

    Peter Robinson: Gee, Seawriter, I just found the poem online, copied it, and pasted it in here at Ricochet. Believe me, it required no technical expertise. (If it had, I couldn’t have done it.)

    That’s the secret. Be an owner.

    The admins chew me out if I cut-and-paste because it imports e-e-vil foreign html that circumvents something essential to Ricochet’s health. Or that is what I am told. Maybe they just don’t like undocumented alien html.

    Seawriter

    • #7
    • July 15, 2015, at 3:36 PM PDT
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  8. karenwtn Member

    When I was 7 my family took a trip from TN to CO and my mother helped us ride the aspen trees. I guess she read this poem as a teen. I remember my Dad lifting me and my brother up to the top and then the tree would bend down and then back up. Great fun and great memory. Can’t wait to hear the podcast.

    • #8
    • July 15, 2015, at 3:42 PM PDT
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  9. Flagg Taylor Member

    I just went for a walk with my wife in the Smokey Mountains near Waynesville, NC. I’m with Peter and Frost!

    • #9
    • July 15, 2015, at 3:45 PM PDT
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  10. Pilli Inactive

    Flagg Taylor:I just went for a walk with my wife in the Smokey Mountains near Waynesville, NC. I’m with Peter and Frost!

    I envy you, Flagg. I grew up in E. Tennessee. The Cherokees called it the Land of a Thousand Smokes. If the weather is just right, you can see mists rising from amongst the trees on the forested hills. It looks exactly like someone has a campfire going.

    • #10
    • July 15, 2015, at 3:58 PM PDT
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  11. Basil Fawlty Member

    The current space program is often used to confirm us in the fond illusion that we have not become what we have become.

    • #11
    • July 15, 2015, at 4:00 PM PDT
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  12. MarciN Member

    This is my very favorite poem. It is the best. :)

    • #12
    • July 15, 2015, at 5:58 PM PDT
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  13. GrannyDude Member

    MarciN:This is my very favorite poem. It is the best. :)

    And—I also rode trees like this when I was a kid.

    • #13
    • July 15, 2015, at 6:24 PM PDT
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  14. MarciN Member

    My daughter went to the University of Vermont. One year there was an ice storm. As I drove along the highway, I could picture little Robert Frost riding the birch trees to the ground.

    • #14
    • July 15, 2015, at 7:15 PM PDT
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  15. Arahant Member

    Love it, Peter.

    • #15
    • July 15, 2015, at 9:08 PM PDT
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  16. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Moderator

    Kate Braestrup:

    MarciN:This is my very favorite poem. It is the best. :)

    And—I also rode trees like this when I was a kid.

    Birches aren’t native to where I grew up, only ornamentals. But a park nearby had a stand of birches, and while they weren’t young enough to bend all the way to the ground, they were still supple and good to sway on.

    When I babysat kids who lived near the park, I’d take them there to climb the birches and have themselves an adventure. I figured I was heavier than them, and the trees held my weight. Also, I was there to spot them.

    I was a dangerous babysitter. But the few kids I babysat regularly loved me for it.

    • #16
    • July 15, 2015, at 9:58 PM PDT
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  17. MarciN Member

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Kate Braestrup:

    MarciN:This is my very favorite poem. It is the best. :)

    And—I also rode trees like this when I was a kid.

    Birches aren’t native to where I grew up, only ornamentals. But a park nearby had a stand of birches, and while they weren’t young enough to bend all the way to the ground, they were still supple and good to sway on.

    When I babysat kids who lived near the park, I’d take them there to climb the birches and have themselves an adventure. I figured I was heavier than them, and the trees held my weight. Also, I was there to spot them.

    I was a dangerous babysitter. But the few kids I babysat regularly loved me for it.

    I too was a great babysitter. I had so much fun. I loved it. That’s why I wanted to have kids.

    It’s gotta be one of the all-time-great human relationships. :)

    • #17
    • July 15, 2015, at 10:12 PM PDT
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  18. Old Bathos Member

    Getting a space craft on target to Pluto was a spectacular achievement that touches our sense of wonder.

    Robert Frost is overrated, (not Maya Angelou over-rated–magnitudes of difference–but given way too much credit).

    Have you every climbed a really tall tree? They don’t bend like that because the trunk has to be firm for them to stay tall. And if you are damaging young trees with this bending stuff, the heck with you. And where did he get that country boys don’t know baseball stuff? Maybe in Kazakhstan but not in ‘Murica.

    • #18
    • July 16, 2015, at 5:40 AM PDT
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  19. Great Ghost of Gödel Inactive

    Friendly reminder: Mr. Science-like goggling of space need not (I would say “does not”) imply any goggling whatsoever of NASA.

    • #19
    • July 16, 2015, at 6:44 AM PDT
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  20. Manny Member

    It’s been many years since I read “Birches.” I didn’t remember it being so good. Maybe I never got it until now that it has been compared to Pluto. Where else but Ricochet does one get a comparison of “Birches” to Pluto? ;)

    Flagg Taylor

    I just went for a walk with my wife in the Smokey Mountains near Waynesville, NC. I’m with Peter and Frost!

    When I was young I might have picked Pluto over Birches. But at passed middle age, I’m with Peter and Frost too now.

    • #20
    • July 16, 2015, at 6:59 AM PDT
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