Thursday, July 19, 2012

As old as America

Good Bye and Keep Cold
Robert Frost

This saying good-bye on the edge of the dark
And cold to an orchard so young in the bark
Reminds me of all that can happen to harm
An orchard away at the end of the farm
All winter, cut off by a hill from the house.
I don't want it girdled by rabbit and mouse,
I don't want it dreamily nibbled for browse
By deer, and I don't want it budded by grouse.
(If certain it wouldn't be idle to call
I'd summon grouse, rabbit, and deer to the wall
And warn them away with a stick for a gun.)
I don't want it stirred by the heat of the sun.
(We made it secure against being, I hope,
By setting it out on a northerly slope.)
No orchard's the worse for the wintriest storm;
But one thing about it, it mustn't get warm.
"How often already you've had to be told,
Keep cold, young orchard. Good-bye and keep cold.
Dread fifty above more than fifty below."
I have to be gone for a season or so.
My business awhile is with different trees,
Less carefully nourished, less fruitful than these,
And such as is done to their wood with an axe--
Maples and birches and tamaracks.
I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard's arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod.
But something has to be left to God.

Unlike Frost's young orchard our old white oak sheltered fingerlings, frogs and turtles beside the lake before the American Revolution. It was a magnificent specimen, until age caught up with it.

It now goes on, towards other uses, but will be sorely missed.


Kionon said...

Trees can be surprising resilient at times, and at others times, quite fragile. My parents' house has lost two trees over the years due to extreme heat.

Anonymous said...

Tragic. I hate seeing this. Wonderful poem, thank you.

We lost two huge oaks a few feet from our house a month or so ago. The wide spread of their overarching branches had shielded us from brutal afternoon sun these many years. The temperatures now go so high inside the house that it's hard to bear, despite AC.