The Aim Was Song

Before man came to blow it right
    The wind once blew itself untaught,
And did its loudest day and night
    In any rough place where it caught.

Man came to tell it what was wrong:
    It hadn’t found the place to blow;
It blew too hard—the aim was song.
    And listen—how it ought to go!

He took a little in his mouth,
    And held it long enough for north
To be converted into south,
    And then by measure blew it forth.

By measure. It was word and note,
    The wind the wind had meant to be—
A little through the lips and throat.
    The aim was song—the wind could see.


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on December 4, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The Aim Was Song” was first published in The Measure: A Journal of Poetry vol. 1, no. 1 (March 1921) and later appeared in Robert Frost’s collection New Hampshire (Henry Holt & Company, 1923). Mark Richardson, professor of English at Doshisha University in Kyoto, writes in The Ordeal of Robert Frost: The Poet and his Poetics (University of Illinois Press, 1998) that “[t]hrough us nature ‘exceeds’ itself in form, Frost says, and [‘The Aim Was Song’] brings us to the place where nature evolves into culture, where chaos resolves itself through human agency into something ‘created’ and orderly. The wind is articulated or ‘measured’ out in speech, and not only into speech, but ‘song’—poetry.”