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A Hillside Thaw -- Robert Frost

Guest poem sent in by Gregory Marton
(Poem #1284) A Hillside Thaw
 To think to know the country and not know
 The hillside on the day the sun lets go
 Ten million silver lizards out of snow!
 As often as I've seen it done before
 I can't pretend to tell the way it's done.
 It looks as if some magic of the sun
 Lifted the rug that bred them on the floor
 And the light breaking on them made them run.
 But if I thought to stop the wet stampede,
 And caught one silver lizard by the tail,
 And put my foot on one without avail,
 And threw myself wet-elbowed and wet-kneed
 In front of twenty others' wriggling speed, --
 In the confusion of them all aglitter,
 And birds that joined in the excited fun,
 By doubling and redoubling song and twitter,
 I have no doubt I'd end by holding none.

 It takes the moon for this. The sun's a wizard
 By all I tell; but so's the moon a witch.
 >From the high west she makes a gentle cast
 And suddenly, without a jerk or twitch,
 She has her spell on every single lizard.
 I fancied when I looked at six o'clock
 The swarm still ran and scuttled just as fast.
 The moon was waiting for her chill effect.
 I looked at nine: the swarm was turned to rock
 In every lifelike posture of the swarm,
 Transfixed on mountain slopes almost erect.
 Across each other and side by side they lay.
 The spell that so could hold them as they were
 Was wrought through trees without a breath of storm
 To make a leaf, if there had been one, stir.
 It was the moon's: she held them until day,
 One lizard at the end of every ray.
 The thought of my attempting such a stay!
-- Robert Frost
The recent Frost spree brought to mind this poem with all its wonderful
early-spring imagery.  This poem was my introduction to Robert Frost, now
my favorite poet.  I had been expounding to a friend[1] about how one could
find just about everything online (c.a. 1999) and she asserted that this, her
favorite Frost poem was nowhere to be found.  Needless to say, she was right!
In fact as I started on a quest for it, the poem turned out not to be on our
university library shelves either, and I finally found it in an ancient first
edition copy in the Maryland room.  It was magnificent to read it that first
time, and a triumph to finally have found her a copy, and a pleasure to hold
the tome, and see Frost's inscription in his own hand.

It might have been the chase that made me fall in love with this poem, but
reading it aloud and seeing the newts come alive under the golden sunbeams
chasing them with torn and muddy clothes as I might have done, excited
child, and looking on from afar as the pale moon's glow slows them to
Escherlike images ... that beauty kept me enthralled.

The last line sealed it, expressing as no other could my sheer awe and
humility at nature's subtle power.

Happy spring!  :-)
Gremio

[1] [broken link] http://www.agaonline.org/poetry/hillside-thaw.html

41 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Rex and Pamela Welbourn said...

I would like to include this poem (along with "Stopping by wood"s) in a reading for next winter.

With your help, may I learn more about this poem and its metaphors?

Pamela Welbourn
Kingston
Ontario
Canada

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That's a very nice poem. I like the way he plays with the rhymes. I think I had read one of his poems in some other blog before. Love your work guys. Keep up with it.

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Robert Frost is a genius i like all his work

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