A Poetry Discussion in the Barn
Bread Loaf School of English, 2 August 1954
Typed transcript, 46 p. Abernethy Manuscripts [Frost] / Tape Transcriptions. Transcribed by India Tressault '80.

Reginald Cook: The following is a recording with [unclear] of Robert Frost's visit at the Bread Loaf Barn on the evening of August 2, 1954.

Robert Frost: …translation is the kind of thing I [unclear]. I know it in a big translation of, uh, of, uh, what's his name, uh, recent translation, see, uh, uh, you know ha—one of the, hazards.

??: Leonard Bacon.

RF: Leonard Bacon. That's right. In Leonard Bacon's translation. Uh, and I enjoyed—that's a great big book, many years of work, and, uh, all the pleasure I get out of it was in his very amusing notes. The reading [unclear] things, not for me particularly, especially in translation. So I won't be able to say much about it down there. It's very interesting that it's all about a favorite character of mine, da Gamma. [Unclear] Stole the show from Columbus. I like people that steal the show.

All right. That's one question answered [laughter].

RC: Now here's a chance.

??: Has Mr. Frost been [unclear] down in Brazil? [Unclear] has he been translated into German?

RC: Uh, have you been translated into Brazilian, to Portuguese [laughter]?

RF: Not as I know, Tom [laughter]. I've been translated into a good many languages. By the way, I noticed down, the other day when I was down at the Abernethy Library that, uh, many, many, uh, languages Thoreau has been translated into. That would translate easier than poetry. But it, I don't know. I, I didn't notice Portuguese. [Unclear] My own things get translated into French and German and English and things like that [laughter].

You might, uh, uh, don't embarrass me, uh, but, you, I suppose you came here chock full of questions, but, the, uh, take the question of, of metaphor, and take the question of allegory. Here you got, here you got an enormous allegory, apparently, uh, and all there is to redeem it is it's full of people that are interesting and full of little stories about [unclear]. That's what I take it redeems it. The allegory must be awful. Any sustained allegory. A, a parable is about my length. I can stand a parable. But beyond a parable, no. I don't want that to push me along.

Metaphor! As much metaphor as there is in a little poem. Not too long. The parables are all right. Uh, this question of pa—the pa—of the parable, this thing might interest you. I, I have been talk—talking about symbols and parables and metaphors and, from, one way and another, and, um, somebody wrote me a rather rebuking letter. Somebody who thought he knew the Bible better than I did and he told me that you, you, "Did you realize," he said to me in the letter, "that the, uh, uh, the, the parables in the New Testament were written not to be understood." They were deliberate mystification. And deliberately esoteric. I had used the word "esoteric," uh, uh, spoken against the wor—the idea [unclear] the esoteric in, in art, uh, in a talk I gave somewhere. And he picked that up. He'd heard it on the radio or somewhere, and, uh, my, uh, I, I thought I'd made some fun out of that. I s—it, it says in the, uh, New Testament, "these things are said in parable so the wrong people can't understand them and so get saved." [Laughter] [Unclear] And that, I accept that. That's the Bible. A—a—and, uh, I just been reading Tom Paine who didn't think any Bible was good. Uh, but that's good Bible.

Then, the question is, is that a—aristocratic or is it esoteric? What is it? Well, I tell you what it is, it just plain leave, take another place in the New Testament. It means the wro—by the wrong people, it means professors, scribes and pharisees [laughter]. It means except you come as little children. It says somewhere else. And they understand stories, and parables. They naturally do. It's a natural thing. Naturalitor as [unclear] says. And, uh, so I'd made fun out of that that way and this fellow got after me and said that they, uh, they'd been accepted as esoteric long since by the Church. Okay [laughter]. But you might, wherever you look, uh, in, uh, I was talking with Rabbi Reichert before he went away and he had a nice quotation from Hosea. And, uh, just the same. This is before the New Testament. But there's no talk of mystification. It's just that, that these things are conveyed in similitudes. See, it's the same word. And my similitudes, Hosea speaks of. But you, you can't, there are things you can't convey except in similitudes. That's the way we get from one thing to another, from one place to another, by similitudes, of course. The whole thinking is that. When, when, uh, when, uh, Schopenhauer says "the world as will," he just gives his whole life, uh, and that can get very tiresome [laughter]. Uh, he gives his whole life to one big book about the world being likened unto that trait in man which we call the will, eh, and not likened unto what Plato said. Same way in man. He was making a distinction. But Pla—Plato's metaphor would be that the, all of creation might be likened unto that trait in man which is called reason. See, it's just a, just a metaphor. A sustained metaphor. After you get, get a hint of it, why you can do the rest yourself, if you're any good.

RC: I have a question here. Two questions. Someone inquires about what you like in prose, and also if you would, uh, uh, give some reaction about the popularity of Charles Dickens right now.

RF: Wuh, th—that's, that comes in another department [laughter]. That's all right. I don't know, I don't have that kind of, uh, opinion very much, you know. I'm not an evaluator. See, uh, Dickens is all right [laughter]. I remember. I've just been over the French Revolution in two different, two different authors and as I read I was thinking of, Sidney Carton, some of it. The, and the, in bleak, in, uh, Tale of Two Cities. I read that, um, let's see, I read th—I read Dickens last, to any extent, I guess I read Bleak House, to please you, and, uh, lately. But I, I haven't read much of Dickens since 1891 [laughter]. But there's no reason why I shouldn't start reading him again [unclear].

??: Will Mr. Frost, uh, illustrate the use of parables in his own poetry?

RC: Would you illustrate the use of parables in your own poetry, Mr. Frost?

RF: Why, the, uh, the metaphor as I say, the ra—uh, uh, most of them are no longer than a, a metaphor, and, uh. But, and y—you mean name them? Name a couple?

??: I meant [unclear].

RF: For instance, one that's taken, one of mine is ta—one of mine is very much taken as a parable is called "Mending Wall." And, uh, you know, there're intimations in that, hints, so on. And, uh, then another one at the other end of that same book is a little one about the same length called "The Woodpile." And the, uh—

??: What about "The Grindstone"?

RF: And "The Grindstone" is one. Sure, over and over again some of the little ones like [unclear]. One names things that aren't familiar.

??: How about "Hyla Brook"?

RF: And the, yeah, oh, that sort of thing. They're little metaphors. See that's, uh, that ends up with, uh, some of them clinch their own little metaphor at the end, like, uh, "We love—" I think that ends up, "We love the things—" that's, uh, a brook that spent itself, isn't it. And, uh, uh, as you get it when it's worn out with summer, dry, sort of dried up in a bed of, bed of leaves, dead leaves stuck together by the heat. And then it says, the end, "We love the things we love for what they are." Whether they're young or old, fresh or spent. See, that's easy enough. That's what it's doing all the time. Well, damn it, I think all of them are.

??: "Brown's Descent"?

RC: "Brown's Descent"?

RF: Yeah, those are, that's so easy. Some of them are just for the fun of it. Some very, very open and some are less veiled, you know.

RC: Here's another good inquiry. What do you think of the people today who say there is nothing left to say about nature that is not trite?

RF: Well [laughter]. I just been noticing, uh, Whitehead quoted by Lucien Price on, uh, how that's, the details are all, can all be fresh little observations about man and nature. Nature and human nature. Those can all be new. The basic things like the world as will, the world as reason, the world as, as mathematics, or as science, or something like that, those are all s—spent, according to Whitehead, according to Lucien Price. And that may be so. We, we won't ever get another, another vast philosophy. When you think of that you, you wonder the, uh, uh. But in—bout nature, I should think anyone might always be noticing little fresh things. My, if my book isn't sprinkled with 'em, I don't know what it is. Sprinkled with 'em. Just, just, to, uh, early one, just remembering. I'm not going to search my own books. I don't want to talk too much about my own books, but, uh, you, uh, say, um, uh, uh, see, hum—hummingbird …thrusts in with needle bill
And off a blossom in mid-air stands still.
See. And off a blossom in mid-air stands still.

See. That's the kind of thing you mean. That isn't anywhere else. Uh, somebody else noticed that th—uh, uh, uh, since I've s—but this no—not, not on top of mine but just, I, I notice someone saying the other day, the hummingbird's the only bird that can fly backward. Tail first. That's interesting [laughter]. Very interesting. Very, that's what I, that's what you mean, by fresh observation. And that's probably is, lots of things are reduced to s—s—statistics, and there're still little things you notice. Always noticing something 'bout people and people's, you o—you have to all the time to get, to live with people. [Unclear] The nature part of it.

Thoreau, talking about Thoreau the other day, uh, uh. I have a friend in Amherst, Massachusetts, a real estate dealer, uh, who if I wrote novels would be in one. Uh, he's one of the characters of my lifetime. And he has read every word Thoreau ever wrote, I guess, and not only read it forward but backward, sideways, and, uh. For instance, he, it's common criticism that Thoreau made mistakes in his observation, acute as he was and, and close to things. It's a, it's, it's in all the books about Thoreau that he m—did make some mistakes, the old cocksure one. And, uh, uh, f—my friend Brown said, "But they're so stupid; they just give a little list, a few, that he made, and they keep making the same list down the years. Nobody's made a fresh observation of any mistakes Thoreau made [laughter]. The old stale [unclear]. That's good observation [laughter]. He's a good one.

RC: Here's another question. What is the ultimate value of the study of poetry [laughter]?

RF: The, uh, the, I'm not in favor of studying it very hard [laughter]. I, I have, I did, I just picked this up for the fun of it. I have no intentions of using it on you in any way. It's called Parnassus. Do you know whose it is?

RC: Yes.

RF: You do [laughter]. Anybod—raise your hand. Parnassus. It was an anthology made about the same time that Palgrave's was. Palgrave's. And, made by Ralph Waldo Emerson. And it, uh, and, you had an anthologist around here the other night. [Tape fades]

RF: …top of the, top of the world. The second one, contemporaries of Tennyson's and Palgrave's, not so good. We make no mistakes about contemporaries. There're people in there that are, all, uh, i—in there large, rather extensively that are gone already. Dead ducks. That happens, [unclear] that's, that's part of the fun. But the study of poetry isn't anything, you know, the, uh, the, uh. Goodness sakes. The, the beauty of these poems at the top of everything is that some of them must be in your nature, you know, in your head. You can't hear 'em without their catching on to you without being studied.

??: Is that primarily what makes a poem survive, would you say?

RF: Yeah, yeah. I was, yeah, you know, when you think of it. Take a, does it want to be too, how hard does it want to be? How hard is hard enough? You, you—it wants to be a I—a, some test of your nimbleness, see, and also of your experience, see, what you've lived with, other poems and, where you've lived. Some test of that. But the main test is of your nimbleness. Are you up to this? He can do little who can't do this. See. Come on, catch on. That's what the beauty of it is.

When it, uh, we, Amherst in my head a little, uh, uh, I lived in, I been in, out of Amherst so many years. And I lived through the last part of the bitter, uh, war down there, uh, between the Emily Dickinson niece and the Emma Dis—and the Emily Disk—and the, uh, Emily Dickinson's brother's mistress [laughter]. Did I get that all straight [laughter]? And that, that was a very, very bitter thing. It still lives a little. There's one left—the daughter of the mistress still lives in Washington and sh—and she still burns with this thing. The great question in Amherst for years was, Who did Emily like best: her brother's mistress or her brother's wife [laughter]? That's a great [unclear] [laughter]. And they, there were trials and things and everything went to court, you know, property involved and everything like that. Practically all gone but a daughter of the mistress. Friend of mine [laughter]. And it was so bitter when I think of it, that, uh, when you think of a little poem, say, that, uh, how could it, how could all this rise from somebody's having written a poem like this, let's see. Uh, My life closed twice… Let's see.

??: "Before its close."

RF: Let's see. How does that second line go?

??: "Before its close."

RF: What?

??: "...closed twice before its close."

RF: Uh, "It ye—" no, you, My life closed twice before [it closed];
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me,
So huge, so hopeless to conceive
[Uh, uh, As that, those that first befell]
See, I've, I've mauled it a little try—calling it up. Uh, As [those] that [first] befell.
[Heaven—]
Uh,

??: [Unclear]

RF: "...we know of heaven..."

??: "Parting is all—"

RF: [Unclear] Parting is all we [unclear]
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

Now when you stop to look at that, uh, does anything, uh, is anything more than the thing itself occur to you? One can say always that. Does anythin—some days nothing more than the thing itself occurs to you. It's huge enough in itself, just to have take it. But sometimes something extra occurs to you. I 'member the, I remember one of the bitter ones in Amherst saying that nobody in the whole life of America made a line like [Im—uh,] If Immortality unveil
A third event to me.

Immortality unveil a third. And what did he mean by that? I know—remember him well. He's gone. He's not there anymore. But he cared for that. He just said, "None of you fellows can write like this," said to me. And, uh, If Immortality unveil And, the beauty of that, it occurs to me, is that she said, My life closed twice before [it closed];
It yet remains to see—
Now she doesn't say "death" in there, she's—it's the way, it's the curious use of, the brilliant use, the poe—high poetic use of the word "immortality" there just knocks you. I agree to that. That's very high. And then the last two lines [unclear] are really e—wonderful epigram. But did you, did you ever notice as you said it, uh, uh, Parting is all we know of heaven How do you know about heaven? What do you know of heaven. You only know that some people go there. She means knows, see. And all we need of hell. That's another word, you see. She doesn't say "know" of hell; she says "need" of hell. Wonderful that "need" in there, too. Sometimes you don't th—do you get a thing like that in your head and then some day it dawns on you how the, terrible. Goodness [unclear]. You don't want somebody to tell you about it [laughter]. [Unclear]

Somebody brought up to me this more [unclear]. Someone said, uh, "Don't you think you need any notes about anything?" Any note is a hell of a note [laughter]. [Unclear] to say a hell of a note. No, I [unclear]. You know, I don't want to be too sweeping. But all that, here, here's the top of all poetry, you see, uh, the, the, uh, he made an anthology, uh, Richard Henry Dana, was it, made an anthology. Uh, Goldsmith made an anthology. Did you ever see it? And they've been anthologizing right down, taking this top off things. And it's very interesting. There isn't anything in any of them that needs a note when you get up to that height of poetry. Said, uh, this poem called, that begins: The glories of our blood and state
Are shadows, not substantial things;
Now, now at the head of that it says, in, in, in the Palgrave if I remember rightly, I haven't looked at that for many years. If I remember rightly it says, "Death, the Leveller." And it only occurred to me lately that that name might not have been on the poem at all when, i—in the play, in Shirley's play, that very likely he just added that. That's smart addition. And I, I got a little suspicion of that, of that title, that it's comes from thinking and knowing a lot about levellers... [voice in background] …Puritans and things like that.

??: Sir, would you comment on, uh, T. S. Eliot in this respect.

RF: What's that:

??: Would you comment on T.S. Eliot in this respect.

RF: Uh, what—

RC: Would you comment on T.S. Eliot in this respect.

RF: Yah—

RC: What respect?

RF: Yah. Well I just, I just [laughter]—

??: I mean [unclear] I mean with the aspect of the complicated, uh, poem and the—

RF: Looking heaven to heaven [unclear]—

??: —footnotes, yes [unclear].

RF: —before it and after it and during it and after it. Before, during and after. Well, I don't think he thinks that you would need them. I think he doesn't think [unclear] he has met you, he doesn't know what y—what, what you're up to, see, that's [unclear]. He's ge—he's used to a lot of people who talk Sanskrit, see [laughter]. He isn't putting on any airs; he isn't high-hattin' us or anything. It's just the way he's got educated, scribes and pharisees. And, uh, it's it's carried him a little off there, and then [laughter] come and see us in a, in a democratic world all qui—asking him to let us pl—please let us in on the, you know, that's what we go to college for [laughter]. Please, sayin' "Please, Mr. Eliot, let us in on this and if you haven't time some of your friends will do it for you." [Laughter] Very busy.

RC: Here's another Eliot question. Do you agree with Eliot's proposition that poetry in a complex civilization must necessarily be complex and involved to express that civilization? [Laughter]

RF: You know, uh, uh, [unclear] they used to tell us back in Dreiser's day, speaking of novelists, I've read a few of them, uh. But they used to tell us that in a confused age, the most representative artist would be a confused artist [laughter]. [Unclear] [laughter]. And it's very dangerous, that doctrine is, because a very brilliant person can think he's got to talk confused. And, and, and frankly say, you, uh, you know, tale told by an idiot. Write it out: a title: All Storm and Noise. And then add, Signifying Nothing. Why not? Don't want it to signify. Is there anything more tiresome than, than sense? We get so tired of meaning. I want something that hasn't any meaning. I'm sick of meaning. It's like a disease, that is. Could be a disease like that, in a time of decadence. Sure. There may be some happiness for some to give way to it and just say, oh, let's just revel in no meaning at all, storm and noise, tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing. If it signified anything I'd be sorry [laughter]. I, I can, and I might for, uh, for one hour, you know, one day, uh, lend myself. Uh, that's, that's the gift, you know, you've got to have in this world. Uh, that's the liberal g—the gift to the liberal of being able to lend himself for the duration of the peace, to almost any nonsense. Do you lend yourself to…

No—now look, uh, speaking of Dreiser, and speaking of, uh, uh, see, I want somebody else, uh, uh, Mirabeau. Uh, see, Mirabeau had a doctrine of im—of, of hostility toward all society that Dreiser spoke once in a speech I read. He, uh, when I was in Indiana, that's how I happened to notice it once. He came down to where Dillinger lay buried, Dillinger the killer. And he laid a wreath on his grave. And he said that was for this reason, and he gave a little talk about it. He said, that's for this reason. He said, "If you're going to hate society, and all of it," you know, "hate it." He said the boys that have been to college and have got words to do it with, let them talk. And a poor boy that hasn't been to college, let him shoot [laughter].

And Mirabeau said almost the same thing, that in order to be a revolutionary, uh, to be a real revolutionary, he had to go live with criminals for a while. So he learned utter disrespect and contempt of all law and order. That's, that's in his, that's in his history. And, ah, you can listen to that, sure. I can see how that, I might, I might feel that way for a few minutes for a little while [laughter]. And, the, how far down will you go in this thing, uh, how far will you go off into disorder, into chaos? Out of chaos we rise to these points. You rise to—insights to points, to points. And, and, w—in, then there must be moods of, one of the relaxations must be back into chaos, call it a relaxation.

That's all right, that's just me talking, you know. I'm only entertaining you [laughter]. [Unclear] I said that I was going to, next year I was going to come up here, and make good on this one sentence: that, uh, uh, I, I don't know what I'm going to talk about down in Brazil. I notice I just, somebody sent me a, a little book that shows me that all these movements that we talk about here, come in Paris or anywhere, they swept the whole civilized world, I won't need anything different down there. The, uh, the names are strange to me, uh, the, the writers' names. But the ideas [unclear], gone over the world. They, I'll see somebody down there, uh, that's called a sculpture because he's bent a wire a queer way [laughter]. I'll probably be one of the first things. I g—I hope y—wire will be thick enough so I see it [laughter].

RC: Uh, here's a related question. What do you think of the trend of modern, that is to say contemporary poetry, written by poets born after 1910? Is it getting more complex, or less?

RF: No.

RC: Does this cut into feeling?

RF: Cut into what?

RC: Into feeling, into emotion. Is the intellect riding over the emotion, I suppose is meant.

RF: Well, yah, I suppose I. Course this is all a matter of some, you—a poem is a thought-felt thing, isn't it. You make a hyphenated word out of it: a thought-felt, thought-felt thing. [Unclear] and, uh, I don't know about the balance of it, you know, more wildness, you know, the wildness comes. There must be something wild in it. All that. We know about that. It's got to come to something, though, hasn't it. The wildness, it's, isn't so wild that you're nowhere or you're back to chaos. That's all right. Sure, little, little chaos goes a long way with me [laughter]. I've lived all through this thing. I remem—member the first I saw of it that, coming along and, Sorel's book on violence and, and Marinetti coming up from Italy to talk and Marinetti saying that "the day is done of all argument but the blow in the face." That's a good saying. Hit 'em again, hit them again. The, rip, slap, set 'em up right in the middle of a two-cent pie. That's all right. It's part of it; it's off on one side. Short distance down. 'Tisn't the ma—'tisn't where the thing's mainly going. We're going right after, you know, meaning and point and more always after it, catching it, and happy when we catch it and, uh, and less happy when we lose it. That's all. Part of the battle is just saying good and evil. We have bad days and good days, and we have all that. But you just, if you make a point of bad days, that's what some do, I can't, I'm not say, sayin' it.

Look this what I said, to make good in. Uh, "Our object," as r—poets, or novelists, "Our object is to entertain you by making play," uh, have to look out for that, "making play with things we trust you already know." See. Now the emphasis was on, uh, making play, no, I'm gonna make the emphasis right at the beginning. Who are we? Are, and, w—are that we should talk about "our object." Well, we're troubadors, see. Somebody said that, somebody said that to me yesterday, said there'd never been such a troubador-like time as there is right now in America with all you fellows barding around. And, there's something to that. And a good excuse. And, uh, our object is to entertain you.

Now the word "entertain" becomes a difficulty. Monkey shines? Flippancy? Frivolity? No. Any e—making play, by making play, high metaph—that's the word "metaphor" right, comes in there. Making play that will, will, will test your agility, your knowledge. Making play, way up, any height. And, with things we trust you already know. We do it on a percentage basis, there'll be some of it you don't know. Uh, take a, uh, take clowning in, in the day of Keats. Uh, and, uh, I c—saw some early, some primitive farming when I was younger. But of course I never saw, uh, I never saw a threshing floor. I've seen the floor. And I've seen the flail. But I've never seen the flail in use. But what do I do about that? Do I—is the poem for my information he said, he says to Autumn, addresses Autumn. Who hath [n—]not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever [walks] abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the [w—]winnowing wind;
See, he's talking about the wind that doesn't winnow her hair. I know that very well he—because her hair doesn't need winnowing. Uh, but he, he means the winnowing-wind, the wind that, uh, has just been used to winnow the wheat. Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers
See I—this is another picture. The first one is she's, she's sitting in the, sitting in the, on the granary floor, the wind going through, and the, thing [unclear] am I getting information out of this? What am I getting out of it? Somebody say, uh, say, you, you, don't you need notes on that? You know. "Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind." Or a—am I giving you notes now, didn't you get this without my saying this Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
[Uh,] Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Hook, he calls it, Spares the next swath with all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a [reaper] thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
No like a gleaner. …sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
[Or on a—] or by a cider-press, with patient look,
[Thy] watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
See there are four Burne-Jones pictures there. Uh, pre-Raphaelite pictures. That's th—uh, they, they're stock-in-trade for all the pre-Raphaelites, right in those four pictures there. Uh, that's me saying that. Uh, I'm saying that for fun [laughter]. [Unclear] write that down in the next examination [laughter]. But, but look at it. Now there's not a thing there, I, I have pressed some cider a little. I've been at a cider mill and watch—uh, watched the last oozings hour by hours. But on, the—I n—I happen to know that in the old world the poppies [tape fades sharply] are, are the weeds that get into the wheat, uh, the, uh, uh, that flowers in, in wheat, th—all so beautiful, you know, but they're really like our, uh, like the mustard in wheat over here, that makes them burn up, throw a whole harvest away if there's o—if there's more than a certain amount, 'mount of it. But all that's in there, it's not for information. I don't know, you see. Somebody said, "You're too, you, you're too contemptuous of what anyone can learn from poems." Yah, I am. I expect you to come to the poem with all the n—enough knowledge to get the poem. You pick up a little extra, yah, I don't want to be too [unclear] about it. But if I need to be told, uh, take, take, take a little, little scrap like, uh, uh, see, uh, uh, I strove with none, for none was worth my strife;
Nature I loved; and next to Nature, Art.
I warm'd both hands before the fire of life; It sinks, and I am ready to depart.
That's one of the richest four lines there is anywhere, you see, just the very richness beats anything in the Greek Anthology. And, uh, but look at it. Look at the items in it. Anything there that you aren't prepared to handle? I strove with none— See, w—uh, uh, w—Wilson, President Wilson got a whole doctrine out of that. He was going to keep us out of war because nobody was worth fighting. Didn't keep us out, but he used it a lot. Too proud to fight. I strove with none, for none was worth my strife; Then Nature I loved; and next to Nature, Art.Here was one of the most artful of men, Landor, but saying, he put Nature first. These little observations and things that we say you can't have any more. And, uh, Nature I loved; and next to Nature, Art. Then the little simple metaphor, I warm'd both hands before the fire of life; And that's a pretty one. It sinks, and I am ready to depart. All [unclear]. And what information did you need to have for that? G—I could tell you some information about it, uh, uh, he, uh, mused me, always amused me when he says I strove [for no—]with none, for none was worth my strife; He was a very quarrelsome man, and, this is information, please. Once his gardener offended him, and he threw the gardener out the window and rushed to the window to see if he'd got in—fallen into the violet bed. That's why he didn't fight with anybody. Even the gardener. This sort of spoils, spoils the poem. All right, any more—

RC: Someone would like to know if you would be willing to comment on Gerard Manley Hopkins.

RF: Yes [unclear], somebody want to recite one of his poems for me?

RC: "Felix Randall."

RF: You say it?

RC: No.

RF: Very fine poem. There's not much to say there. The—the, uh, the—they're very fine poet and one of our, one of our poets. [Unclear] there'll always be some of him in the Anthology, won't they, speaking of that way, in the English anthology. And, [unclear], uh, the tr—uh, the, his difficulty for me is not o—not in any obscurity. His difficulty for me is in the slight hysteric sound some of it has; too throaty. Uh, som—uh, I, uh, I think Thoreau says somewhere that, uh, that, uh, all poetry is a feminine thing, but a—at its best in men [laughter]. That's a good one. And, they, uh, the—that's a little bit too feminine for me, in, in, uh. It's a little on the, too throaty. But not... That would be, that would bar some of it from me, but that—course everybody has the defect of his virtues, as they used to say in France.

??: Uh, Mr. Frost, do you—you wrote a nice, nice piece about a poem of Emerson's recently and, uh, it occurred to me when you were talking about the need of footnoting that maybe you would have gotten that poem about thirty years sooner if you'd had a footnote to help you out at the start.

RF: Yeah. Uh, what, what would, uh, what would I have gained by getting it thirty years earlier [laughter]? That's what I thought somebody might say about it, but, uh, but why, you know? What's the all-fired rush [laughter]? This thing, let it, let it ripen. Let it, let it happen to me in it o—in its slow way. You want, you know the, he's, he's referring to my having told about running on to Emerson. I was speaking of, quoting, speaking of Emerson and Thoreau again, in, and talk I g—talk on the BBC, uh, other day. And, uh, interested, amused me to say that Thoreau wasn't so much interested in liberty with a big "L" and freedom with a big "F" as he was in the liberties he took.

RC: [Unclear]

RF: Yes [laughter] full of, there's nothing prettier, uh, I, we said in the, uh, Doc and I gave the talk together on the BBC, on the NBC, no the BBC. And, uh, we talked about, mentioned, anyway, the "Loon on the Lake." That's a beautiful thing. I wish I, I remarked that I wished we had time to read it into the, uh, interview.

RC: "The Lost Hound" and "The Horse and the Dove"—

RF: Yes.

RC: —is nice.

RF: Yeah. Very gettin—very deliberately, that way. That's all right [laughter].

RC: Are there some other questions?

??: Ah, what does Mr. Frost think of the similarity between his own clear line and the clear line of Hemingway's nature writing in the, uh, Old Man and the Sea? [Unclear]

RC: Uh, would you express an opinion about your own clear line and the clear line in Hemingway as you find it in The Old Man and the Sea?

RF: Clear line?

RC: Clear line, clear, short line.

RF: [Unclear]

??: A living line.

??: [Unclear]

??: A living line.

RC: A, a living line, A living line.

RF: Yeah, I don't know. Those are, uh, I, I hope so, hope I got 'em. Uh, Emerson said that these sentences bleed when you cut 'em. That was a good sentence to say, wasn't it [laughter]? He was, he was all, just every single sentence. This, interesting thing about him and his living lines. They're very, it's as if, as if, many of us have been influenced by Emerson, not by his thinking as, uh, uh, you know, his, his transcendentalism, especially, but by just that way of hittin' the line, you know, hard, firm lines. Every li—the lines all look the same length, that's the funny thing, and they're all said different. See, this. I remember talking that over with John Erskine forty years ago. How monotonous they look to the eye but how various they are when you say them aloud, when you, when you think 'em. Little line like "Give all to love." See, you got to say that just certain way. "Give all to love." Begins the poem. Some people begin with a dead statement to get started. That do, dramatic instantly. Always dramatic, always alive. Wonderfully. It—i, uh, interesting thing about Thoreau. Thoreau said that prose was better than poetry. So few say that, dare to say it. He thought it was; had a wider compass, he said. [Unclear] You got more in in prose. I don't agree with that but that's) he said that and, i—it might have been, you know, you could say sour grapes to him. He couldn't write poetry very well. But he, d—other times he'd talk rather large about poetry. But he, I think he thought that poetry in prose was better than poetry in verse. That's what he meant.

RC: But wasn't poetry a medium through which he saw things?

RF: Yah, well, it's not any s—he couldn't write poetry. But is, it's very second-rate. He read poetry; he knew poetry. W—one of his limitations I—uh, looking at him the other day looking back over him. I found him praising Ossian along with Chaucer. Isn't that a terrible error. Could you do worse than that? That is it, it makes you forgive yourself for any errors that you ever made [laughter].

??: Could we come back a minute to that remark you made about the two books, Walden and Robinson Crusoe. Uh, you said once that, I think it was you who said it, that the thing that pulled those two books together was the idea of making yourself snug in the infin—

RF: Yes.

??: —infinite.

RF: In the in—yeah [unclear]. It's almost as if they were both metaphors for that.

??: Yeah. Well, how about that as a theme in your own poetry? Would you say—

RF: Well, I wonder. I never thought of that. Uh, I, this time on the, i—this, the, uh, BBC, I put three books together. Uh, I said, uh, uh, just, you know, rather wantonly, the way I do things. I said, uh, Robinson Crusoe, Walden, and, and The Voyage of the Beagle. That's another dandy. Now, uh, when, when these people that think they're making a hundred best books, making, list a hundred best books, they wouldn't, the, they put in, uh, the, uh, Darwin's, um, uh, what's the o—[voices in background].

??: The Origin of the Species?

RF: The Orig—they put in The Origin of the Species [laughter]. The other book, this other one, uh, Voyage of the Beagle, has that in it. That's where he thought of it on that enterprise, you know. That's the beauty of it. That's —and a beautiful story. People and things and animals, observations, and great world, and travel [unclear]. It's one of the wonder books. Those three are a—I set those three on special shelf of mine. My old Walden. [Unclear] long time. The thing that comes oftenest into my mind, uh, the loon, and the French Canadian woodchopper that ate woodchucks.

So, uh, he ha—you see some—the question is, I said in the thing, is what's you, when you, uh, when you've got s—somebody like that to imitate, what will you imitate him in? Will you go and live by Walden Pond? You can't there's too much of a crowd there now [laughter]. What will you do, to be like unto him? Well, it's some people think you go—have to go somewhere and hunt loons. And, uh, it's ver—it's very like the imitation of all the great—of Christ or anybody—the imitation of Christ. What will you do to, in the imitation of Christ. What will be an imitation. It's interesting to think. The, the, uh, he was a very brave man. You got to be brave. You've got to be independent. You've got to be a little, got to be cranky like him. He was a little cranky. Got to think that out for yourself.

RC: Here's another question. Do you agree with Shelley that the poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world?

RF: Heh, heh. We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
[ ]
World losers and world forsakers,
And so on. No, I don't kno—ye—that's a pretty thing to say [laughter]. I like that. And all these things are pretty things to say. Uh, uh, Doc was saying he'd been out to walk this afternoon and I said, "You have anybody with you?" And he said, "No." That's why I call him a Thoreausian. [Unclear], uh, Thoreau said once, he said, "I have no walks to waste on company." [Laughter] That's a dandy. [Unclear] you know, there's a, what's the finality in anything. Are these definitive? As they say when they write somebody's life. Only to have it written again by the next generation. Definitive; that's a funny word. De—definitive life of Christ, for instance. No, the, Shelley, uh, did you ever notice, uh, a little observation like this, uh, speaking of Shelley. He's always talking about delight. Rarely, rarely comest thou,
Spirit of Delight!
And then he sa—there's a poem that goes, [ ] World! O life! O time!
On whose last steps I climb,
Trembling at that where I had stood before;
See, that's what I was thinking of: "Trembling at that where I had stood before." How many years I knew that poem before that struck in. Nobody, "Trembling at that where I had stood before." Never mind the rest of the poem, but then, "When will retur—" well he, and then he uses d—uh, what I was thinking [unclear] didn't I. The word delight in there, he says, uh, uh, uh, When will return the glory of your prime?
No more—Oh, never more!
[0—uh,] Out of the day and night
A joy has taken flight;
[Sfresh—]Fresh spring, and summer, and winter hoar,
Move my [heart—] faint heart with grief, but with delight
No more—Oh, never more!
He's always, he, he, you'd think he was a hundred years old, wouldn't you? Very, very fine poem. But he, think he was a hundred years old: "No more—Oh, never more!" He was not, he was in the twenties when he was talking that way, and he's always saying, "Come soon, come soon," you know. Delight. Waitin', waiting for that mo—moment that makes poems. There. And you can't, that, that, he's, he's the kind of person that raises the question for you about love and ins—and inspiration and the trueness of inspiration. Can you feign, can you feign inspiration? Can you feign love? Why can't you? He raises the question. He didn't pretend, he, didn't think you could. Was he right?

RC: He—here's a very personal question. You mentioned that poetry must contain a certain amount of defined knowledge beforehand. Is not feeling or emotion the essence of poetry?

RF: Oh, yes! Sure, that's what I've been saying. That, that the knowledge is, the kno—knowledge is, is so assumed, see, the general knowledge is so assumed, that, that I don't want to talk about it. I want it in notes. I assume you've been to college. That, you know what the, you know the difference between the graduate school and the, and the, uh, uh, and the college? It's right, lies right there. You, uh, in the, you're getting trained in the graduate school, it's a training in scholarship. That's, that's a training that's, for a profession. And then the other, there's, must be no suspicion of training at all. It must be all the, the spreading of this kind of general knowledge that makes you so you can handle the poetry of the world without it, with-out s—straining yourself. The knowledge shouldn't be the strain. The strain is how yo—you catch it. Same as when I, when I, I, I talked about that the other night. I o—when I don't catch it, when I don't get the joke in a joke, you know, or in a picture, or in a, and the point in a poem I'm always cast down. If anyone has to tell me—and if anyone is right there threatening to tell me, I say, "Now don't tell me. Let me alone. Give me a chance see what good I am." And the whole of these, the top is kept that way, wa—the la—the top of it is kept that way, pure. Palgrave didn't put any notes in his book. And Tennyson didn't with him.

And the, uh, there's place down below wa—oh, dear, you know, the whole, the question of s—uh, of training. The, the old, the old college in the last century, back in the last century, as I was saying the other day up here, I guess. The old college was nothing, was pre-, pre-pulpit. Now some of the colleges are premed, and I heard a girl say that the college she went to was pre-wed [laughter]. There, there's a lot of pre- to it. And, what I complain of is that so much of the college education is pre-graduate school. Pre—and, and the minute training creeps into it, you've got to watch it. You're not being trained, you're being, you're, you're, this is the very thing that you're getting ready for all, the, so you can take, take the poetry. And all you have to show, in, in it is that you seen a lot of poetry, or you had the experience of poetry, and, uh, and you lived with poetry, and a—a—and you're good at getting the ideas. You've seen others that beat you at it and that's made you so jealous that you caught, tried to catch up.

When I see, I, uh, I, I told an amusing one that somebody, uh, you n—uh, I, I, uh, Irwin Edman, down in New York, when I was in a crowd a little while ago, down there. He came up to me and said to me in the crowd, "I tell Robert that good fences make good burglars." And, uh, the, uh, you know, I was disturbed, I wasn't my best self. And, uh, I didn't, I said, "Oh, Irwin means that, that what makes crime is law." Some people think that bad stuff. If there were no laws there wouldn't be any crime. Of course not. And, uh, uh, so I, he went away, and pretty soon he came back where I was and he said, "I tell Robert, uh, good fences make good burglars." He wasn't satisfied with what I'd said. And I said, "Oh, get along with that immorality."

And, you know, it was way into the night before I saw what he meant. And wasn't I sick of myself when I saw how slow I was to get that. And yet the words are perfectly good words. I had all the material. I know what a fence is and how he handles stolen goods for robbers, and all that, and I didn't catch it. So, I nearly committed suicide [laughter]. If I had any excuse, you see, for not having the material, but I hadn't any excuse. When I, when "Trembling at that where I had stood before." Well, anybody who's climbed mountains, you know, climbed at all, looks back where he, places where he was. It's all right. But then you might miss—and then if you do miss something, you see, and, and see it years later. All right, you know, you're missing some, of course, any poem. Uh, take the, Keats says, uh, you, to quote Keats again, he says, …No stir of air was there,
Not so much breath as on a summer's day
Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
See, that's just taking a little observation out of a little spot. The opening of "Hyperion." Then he said it, the chill, he gives the chill in that one, you know, uh, uh, Saturn sitting there. And then it says, …The Naiad 'mid her reeds It's a ch—cold day in the shadow of the mountain, you know. Then the ra— The Naiad 'mid her reeds
Press'd her cold finger[s] closer to her lips.
Dandy. Beats, he's full o—full of it, you know.

Funny thing about Masefield is, there's much of that in Masefield, only so much careless writing and sloppy stuff, too. But there's always that very Keatsian line in [unclear] line, in some po—poems. I'm not condescending toward him. Uh, but that's his difficulty, that he's careless, any way to get the rhyme. Slops his way along sometimes. Uh, [There's a mort to pious folk that think] that it's a sin
To troll the [merry] bowl around, and [make] the dollars spin;
But I'm for toleration and for drinking at [the] inn,
[Said] the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.
Don't you wish you'd written that? And the w—what does it in there? The magic is the, is the strange word "toleration" in that fellow talking, you know. But I'm for toleration and for drinking at [the] inn,
Says the old bold mate of Henry Morgan.
That poem, that's one of the best poems he ever wrote. But there are two or three little stanzas in it you could dispense with. They're carelessly made. They aren't as good as that. Not as tight.

RC: Here's one that's relevant. You say it's the poet's duty to make play with things we trust you already know. Is this why poetry must be taught to high school students?

RF: No.

RC: Because they know so little?

RF: No [laughter]. No, they ought to be increasing their knowledge, and not using the poetry to get the knowledge out of it. No the—right there, way back, you know, A wet sheet and a flowing sea,
[And] A wind that follows fas…
And, there are endless fine poems in the anthologies which you don't have to use for knowledge at all, just for the, the entertainment of poetry. And the higher the plane, the lower the plane, down in the ballads, anywhere the range, to increase their range, by just th—the poems. And then the knowledge is all in all sorts of ways, you know, in geography, history, philosophy, economics and sociology. All that stuff.

RC: But Keats could get them off wrong, couldn't he, in "Stout Cortez"?

RF: Yeah, that wouldn't matter. It's too ba—I always felt sorry for Balboa because poor Balboa, it's too bad, treat him bad in the sonnet 'cause he got hanged anyway [laughter], add to his troubles. You know he was hanged? Sad, ain't it [laughter]. He was hanged. Someone of those, they, uh, discoverer of the Pacific Ocean was hanged, for discovering the Pacific Ocean! Got us into a lot of trouble [laughter].

No, the knowledge part of it is very general. You pick up some, for instance, uh, uh, I often, uh, think I learn how to pronounce a word from the way it occurs in the poem. The accent. You got to look out for that, because sometimes, uh, poet didn't know how to pronounce it himself [laughter]. Meter's taught me a lot of pronunciation, and the rhymes, also. Again you've got to look out for those because, uh, a century or s—two ago, they were pronouncing the words in Eng—in English they were pronouncing them the same as they do in Ireland now. That mixes you up. So, but the knowledge is, uh, very incidental.

My, uh, if I wanted to, for knowledge, we got two, two great magazines in the United States. I don't take either of them. Hmm? [Whispering; voice in background] We have [unclear] be going to the wrong place, maybe. One of them is The New Yorker, and I don't like it very well because it's, the terrible advertisements in it. If they were only out. But it is our one literary magazine, see. The others are all [unclear], they're a—all so overloaded with economics and sociology and politics and everything. Articles. And, uh, I don't count 'em any more. And then the other one is the Scientific American. That's a beautiful magazine. And beautifully written and beautifully edited. And there's one of the great places for information. Course you get, uh, gossip in every way. All sorts of ways we pick it up. And some we pick up from poems. For ins—spa—tu—does it startle you to have, uh, "spares the next swath with all its twined flowers"? I wonder how much o—our younger people take that. "...The [hook,] hook..." Evidently, it's a small, a s—it's a real hook, they c—not the scy—not the big scythe she's fallen asleep over, "drowsed with the fume of poppies." That's stretching it a little. Does the fume of poppies put you to sleep? No, but opium will. And opium comes from poppies. Encyclopedia. So you kn—get so you know a lot of things.

Uh, Socrates says that you can only know things in two ways, in the [unclear]. He says you only know things two ways, either by experiencing them, doing them, or by inspiration, by, from Apollo. And he leaves out what I call "common knowledge." Newspapers, and gossip and everything else. He leaves that all out. That's where you get most of it, just out of com—what you call co—current knowledge, everybody's ju—talking, everybody's talk, writing editorials and news and everything. Pick up a lot. Almost no—I know, I know almo—almost know about the H-bomb now. Too late to do any good about it. Not, that, that's one of these things. You don't have, I don't settle it. I'm, I'm, I, I am talking my own way, and talking more or less for your entertainment tonight. There's nothing so entertaining as, as are each other's attitudes. There's nothing so—so composing as composition [laughter].

RC: Here's a stumper. Would you please say "Directive" as an example of traits which you discussed in 1952. It's a memory question.

RF: I don't, I don't know "Directive," and I haven't got it with me.

RC: And someone asks for "The Witch of Coös," which is... [voices in background]

RF: I didn't bring my book with me. No, I, uh, I don't believe I could say that. "The Witch of Coös," I could almost say it, long as it is, but I wouldn't trust myself. I've read it a number of times. Oh, you don't want me to [unclear], do you.?

RC: Would you speak about traits?

RF: Traits?

??: Concrete language.

RF: Traits.

RC: Concrete language.

RF: Traits. Traits. What does that me—I don't know what I could have said about traits.

??: Words like, the overuse of words like "wonderful" and "beautiful." Said you used to turn your back [unclear].

RF: Did I used to s—

??: [Unclear] it in.

RF: Well, I, I probably said that, if you speak of beauty, I wonder, I, I remember boasting that I never owned, I probably allowed myself the use of it two or three times in a lifetime. It's the same so with love and, I've never used glamor [laughter] in a lifetime. Very economical, I am. Yeah, I don't believe in, if you're being funny, I don't believe in s—beginning the story, "I heard, v—a funny story the other day," That's telling 'em it's going to be funny. And they're sure to be let down. Make it funny. Uh, I, I, uh, always wonder at a person writing who describes a remarkable character, and, uh, tall—keeps calling him remarkable and witty and all this and never, and never in a, in a book, you know, and never gives you a real sample of anything good he ever said. It's very [unclear]. It's very easy to get out of it that way, just say remarkable, remarkable, remarkable. I don't know just what you mean by traits. See, uh, what are they?

RC: There's a question back there.

??: In reading Tolstoy, he calls Shakespeare, um, a third-rate prose writer. Uh, I wonder if Mr. Frost would comment [unclear]

RF: It's the dullest stuff that ever w—was written. And it was a fake anyway. I suppose it had some foundation that Ferguson, what's his name? found in those northern things. But it's be—long since exploded. And Thoreau felt, he came at a time when everybody was saying, "Oh, have you read Ossian?" You know, that's, that's the way you get in a time when you're living. They say, "Oh, have you read…" and something, and you're, and you pretend you have [laughter]. [Unclear] See. You ought not to pretend you have. You should ne—never feign emotion. Robert Louis Stevenson said that's the greatest crime of all, to feign emotion. Feign pleasure. Uh, the, uh, but that's a, that's one of those questions, you know, you just expect Tolstoy to say that. He was lost in these intensities. No humor at all, no—nothing to re—nothing to save his soul with till he gets there. Chaucer he had, Chaucer and Shakespeare, you see, oh, right away, uh, r—the breadth of it. Just, they're the opposite from what Thoreau said, Thoreau. That it was, uh, that it, there was something narrow about humor. It's broadening. Of course it's the broadening thing. Part of it [unclear] they both of them are in it, you know. But sometimes I doubt, I, I know what that means. I think that some of the great, uh, saints, and some of the people that been martyrs, and so on. I wonder what Charles the First was doing there when he tried the axe's edge, whether he was rising above the situation, uh. I don't believe he was, no. [Unclear], He nothing common did, [and] mean,
Upon that memorable scene
That's all, that, that you have to, I'm no—uh, I, I'm not decisive about that any more than I am about a lot of things, but, the, uh, the sense of humor might spoil a saint. You see, did you ever notice, in our, in the last fifty or a hundred years there've been attempts made to give Christ a sense of humor. And somebody has written about him as a backslapper.

??: [In background] Poet.

RF: Rotarian. Can't do that, can you do it. [Unclear] There's not a glimmer of humor in it. Not a glimmer. It's all another sort of thing. Very noble, very—that's all right. I'm not saying which. But you, you, there you are. You get these people that, uh, with a kind of a high, saintly, passionate way of taking life. And they're, the—I know, I—I saw a Spaniard like that, I've seen glimpses of him. I won't name him. But he's reckoned a very great poet in Spain. He's had to live out of Spain a long time. Very handsome, dark person. And understanding English well, and, not a, not a, nothing but, nothing but a sustained gloom. Perf—perfectly sustained. Pale, pale features and black hair. Very striking. But at least you to—make play with anything and you leave him out of it, that's all. [Unclear] He might even understand it enough to disapprove of it. I doubt if he does. Reckoned a very great man, down—I've heard that [unclear] much more in Spanish America than in Spain. I think he can go home now. Uh, things have eased off. But in Buenos Aires there was more. I've heard that he was received with, uh, with more noise and, uh, ticker-tape than Lindbergh in New York. We don't know him that way. He lived long time in Washington and, in and out. I guess he taught some little while, and he lectured some little while at Maryland, University of Maryland. Very fine person.

But there's a—there are those two things. Chaucer—just look at him. What is the—I notice they're quoting, uh, this, uh, speech of, about what it's all about, about our life and 'bout our ideas. Do you know it, it comes to you this way. Do you, uh, do you think—[gap in tape] ...Some of these traits, if that's what you mean, like honor and, you kno—you know that simple poem, [First strength, uh, First strength] made [the] way
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honor, pleasure:
See now, now, those three, there are those things and, you might linger over those, to wonder why he put them in order. He made strength first. God gave us gifts. Traits, you see. First he gave us strength, and then he gave us beauty, then he gave us wisdom, then he gave us honor, then he gave us pleasure. See those, are they inten—is that an intentional order? Think about that. Those are all things, you see, that haven't anything to do with a better society, utopia. Honor. And, can you idealize, uh—ideal—ideality satisfy itself in those personal things, or has it got to, got up and make a better world?

The, those are the two idealisms. I understand Faulkner favors the second, n—uh, the first: not a better world, but the honor and all that, bravery, honor, nothin' like glory, that I go with him in, with all my heart, all my life, all my days. Glory, bravery, honor. People th—some people make fun of it. I saw Tom Paine making fun of people that bo—that bowed courteously to each other and then shot each other dead. He thinks that's terrible, but that's, he, he didn't know what the honor was. He was no gentleman. That's, that's what Gouverneur Morris thought anyway. But he didn't know about that, th—the, uh, [unclear] my, I had a friend who died in the, in the First World War, a poet. And, uh, he went out to die. Left his family and all that, children and all, went out to die. Said to me, he said, "I can stand it if all, if there's no blackguarding." You don't have to blackguard the Germans. Some people, he said, can't fight unless they blackguard the other fellow. But I always treasured that memory that he knew that [unclear]. Died without blackguarding the Germans.

All right, have we had enough of me?

RC: Are there any other questions?

RF: …rest, But keep [it] with a repining restlessness;
Let him be rich, [but weary,] that at least,
If goodness [bring] him not, [then] weariness
[Shall] toss him [on] my breast.
I got one word in there wrong, didn't I? You know what—can you correct it? [Unclear] "Goodness [bring] him not": is "bring" the word? [Unclear] But that's the idea. Now that's a pretty little thing, you know, is there any novelty in it? No, there's a—what do you, what's the charm of it? The form of it? That it's a whole statement of religion, isn't it, it's an old story. Just the pretty idea of the "glass of blessings standing by," and all that. It's a very religious poem, but also it's very deep, you know. "First strength made a way." That's the basis of it all. That was the great gift: strength. May be many kinds of strength: spiritual, then beauty and wisdom, honor, pleasure. Then, [But] let him keep the rest,
[ ] Keep them with repining restlessness
This is, that's the formula for many novels—"Keep them with repining restlessness." That's the stress they talk about. Getting weary of that. Sometimes you wonder about what the first, what your, what your, what the sense of original sin is. It's the "repining restlessness." That's maybe not, you see, if you were [unclear] good Buddhist I wouldn't, I wouldn't believe that we, there was any such thing as original sin. But you know that all they have to do is move over into that religion and you're out of that bother.