Monday, April 05, 2010

Stopping by Junior Writing on a Spring Morning

"If Romeo and Juliet had made appointments to meet, in the moonlight-swept orchard, in all the peril and sweetness of conspiracy, and then more often than not failed to meet - one or the other lagging, or afraid, or busy elsewhere - there world have been no romance, no passion, none of the drama for which we remember and celebrate them. Writing a poem is not so different - it is a kind of possible love affair between something like the heart (that courageous but also shy factory of emotion) and the learned skills of the conscious mind." - Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook

During Monday's Junior Writing Class, students considered the meaning, rhyme scheme, and diction of one of Robert Frost's well-knows poems and played with some meaty vocabulary words like concatenation and sybaritic. Thankfully, the poem's interior didn't match the our spring-like climate - students were able to enjoy class outside, taking advantage of the early warm weather and the sunshine.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know,
His house is in the village though.
He will not see me stopping here,
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer,
To stop without a farmhouse near,
Between the woods and frozen lake,
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake,
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep,
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

- Robert Frost


Stephen B. said...

Robert Frost certainly caught and encapsulated the essence of early 20th Century, rural New England. Along side "Stopping By..", my favorite Frost works would include "Nothing Gold Can Stay" and "Mending Wall" as well, though the latter captures perhaps a more taciturn side of the old-time and somewhat isolated North Country farmers of the day.

Perhaps with TMS students rusticating with and ruminating on Frost's work amongst the fields and forests of Rindge, future readers may one day enjoy yet another such gifted wordsmith.

Frederick said...

One of my favorites is "Birches" -- "One could do worse than be a swinger of birches." "Stopping by Woods" is maybe an old chestnut, but returning to it for a close analysis is rewarding, and it was the example Mary Oliver chose to examine for his use of sound.

I love teaching works that are organically related to the place around us. We see depths and resonances in the poem, that echo back to us from the character of the land.