Friday, October 29, 2010

Robert Frost's Childrens' Book?

Droll, dry wit.

Reserved language. Mellifuous language. RHymes tighter than a miser's DNA.

That is Robert Frost.

I know so little of poetry, though I write a bit from time to time. I think that's part of the reason I'm reading this book and blogging about it, so I can learn a bit more about the forms and the styles and the writers who use them.

Robert Frost is an enigma to me. I know his poem about the road not taken. I know he was a New Englander. And that's about it. I'm sure there are many out there who know much more than I about the man, so I won't go into any detail here.

Except to say I love his poem "Brown's Descent." Such tightly-wound, rich language with such a whimsical story underneath it. Written in a more modern, more folksy style, it could easily have been this:

But when you read lines like this, you know this is from no ordinary poet:

Sometimes he came with arms outspread
Like wings, revolving in the scene
Upon his longer axis, and;
With no small dignity of mien.

Faster or slower as he chanced,
Sitting or standing as he chose,
According as he feared to risk
His neck, or thought to spare his clothes

This whole story -- of a hapless farmer who gets blown down an icy hillside by a sudden winter gale -- could easily be a children's book. And perhaps it was, that long ago, written in 1919. But I doubt it. Still, it's fun to think of kids gathered 'round the fire at night, asking dad to read about the poor Farmer Brown getting blown down the hill again.

My kids prefer Josh McBroom. But tonight, I'll read them some Robert Frost.

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