Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Exposed Nest

You were forever finding some new play. 
So when I saw you down on hands and knees 
In the meadow, busy with the new-cut hay, 
Trying, I thought, to set it up on end, 
I went to show you how to make it stay, 
If that was your idea, against the breeze, 
And, if you asked me, even help pretend 
To make it root again and grow afresh. 
But 'twas no make-believe with you to-day, 
Nor was the grass itself your real concern, 
Though I found your hand full of wilted fern, 
Steel-bright June-grass, and blackening heads of clover. 
'Twas a nest full of young birds on the ground 
The cutter-bar had just gone champing over 
(Miraculously without tasting flesh) 
And left defenseless to the heat and light. 
You wanted to restore them to their right 
Of something interposed between their sight 
And too much world at once—could means be found. 
The way the nest-full every time we stirred 
Stood up to us as to a mother-bird 
Whose coming home has been too long deferred, 
Made me ask would the mother-bird return 
And care for them in such a change of scene 
And might our meddling make her more afraid. 
That was a thing we could not wait to learn. 
We saw the risk we took in doing good, 
But dared not spare to do the best we could 
Though harm should come of it; so built the screen 
You had begun, and gave them back their shade. 
All this to prove we cared. Why is there then 
No more to tell? We turned to other things. 
I haven't any memory—have you?—
Of ever coming to the place again 
To see if the birds lived the first night through, 
And so at last to learn to use their wings. 

Credit


This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on March 25, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“The Exposed Nest” was published in Mountain Interval (Henry Holt & Company, 1916).

Author


Robert Frost

One of the most celebrated figures in American poetry, Robert Frost was the author of numerous poetry collections, including including New Hampshire (Henry Holt and Company, 1923). Born in San Francisco in 1874, he lived and taught for many years in Massachusetts and Vermont. He died in Boston in 1963.

Date Published: 2016-03-08

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/exposed-nest