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Monday, July 9, 2012

The Silken Tent - Robert Frost

Field Trip!
If you're ever up in New Hampshire, you should be sure to stop by the Robert Frost Farm in Derry. Also, it's about an hour north of Boston, so really, if you're ever in Boston, you should make the drive up. During the three years I lived in Manchester, I visited there a number of times, occasionally bringing students, sometimes taking a picnic with one or two fellow poetry lovers, and, of course, sometimes on my own. There are still some apple trees on the farm, very old, quite large, and stunning in late May. In addition to the trees, the farmhouse and old barn, there are paths through the surrounding woods, paths that take you right over Mending Wall and Hyla Brook. My second favorite thing on the farm, after one of the apple trees, is the big field behind the house. I suppose there's nothing objectively particularly remarkable about it; it's just a big field with some stone walls and woods around it, but whenever I see it I think about his poem The Silken Tent, and imagine the "she" of the poem to be pictured in this very field:

 She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To every thing on earth the compass round,
And only by one's going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware. 


Favorite words and phrases of the poem: "its pinnacle to heavenward...signifies the sureness of the soul"; "is loosely bound / by countless silken ties of love"; "capriciousness". The overall picture I have in my head is of a tall, graceful, strong, vaguely ethereal and nobly beautiful woman, a woman who is dependable, capable, hardy, full of love and goodness, fine in everything she does and is, but still human in that part of her that, when the summer breezes blow through, feels the littlest bit bound and trapped and desirous of life without bonds, even if they are bonds of love.

Here's the website for the farm, if the mood strikes: http://robertfrostfarm.org/index.html

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my favorite things about my hometown. I like to bring my out-of-stater friends there when they come to visit.
    And that's a beautiful poem. Another thing I like about it is that she is well-formed and helpful because of all these "silken ties of love and thought." If they were gone, she would flap in the wind and not be able to provide shelter to anyone.

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