When I see birches bend to left and right Across the lines of straighter darker trees, I like to think some boy's been swinging them. But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay As ice-storms do. Often you must have seen them Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning After a rain. They click upon themselves As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel. Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust-- Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen. They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load, And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed So low for long, they never right themselves: You may see their trunks arching in the woods Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair Before them over their heads to dry in the sun. But I was going to say when Truth broke in With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm I should prefer to have some boy bend them As he went out and in to fetch the cows-- Some boy too far from town to learn baseball, Whose only play was what he found himself, Summer or winter, and could play alone. One by one he subdued his father's trees By riding them down over and over again Until he took the stiffness out of them, And not one but hung limp, not one was left For him to conquer. He learned all there was To learn about not launching out too soon And so not carrying the tree away Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise To the top branches, climbing carefully With the same pains you use to fill a cup Up to the brim, and even above the brim. Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish, Kicking his way down through the air to the ground. So was I once myself a swinger of birches. And so I dream of going back to be. It's when I'm weary of considerations, And life is too much like a pathless wood Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs Broken across it, and one eye is weeping From a twig's having lashed across it open. I'd like to get away from earth awhile And then come back to it and begin over. May no fate willfully misunderstand me And half grant what I wish and snatch me away Not to return. Earth's the right place for love: I don't know where it's likely to go better. I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree, And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, But dipped its top and set me down again. That would be good both going and coming back. One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.
Robert Frost - 1874-1963
I dwell in a lonely house I know That vanished many a summer ago, And left no trace but the cellar walls, And a cellar in which the daylight falls And the purple-stemmed wild raspberries grow. O'er ruined fences the grape-vines shield The woods come back to the mowing field; The orchard tree has grown one copse Of new wood and old where the woodpecker chops; The footpath down to the well is healed. I dwell with a strangely aching heart In that vanished abode there far apart On that disused and forgotten road That has no dust-bath now for the toad. Night comes; the black bats tumble and dart; The whippoorwill is coming to shout And hush and cluck and flutter about: I hear him begin far enough away Full many a time to say his say Before he arrives to say it out. It is under the small, dim, summer star. I know not who these mute folk are Who share the unlit place with me— Those stones out under the low-limbed tree Doubtless bear names that the mosses mar. They are tireless folk, but slow and sad— Though two, close-keeping, are lass and lad,— With none among them that ever sings, And yet, in view of how many things, As sweet companions as might be had.