Friday, May 08, 2009

Poetry Friday -- Speaking of Contraries


from WEST-RUNNING BROOK
by Robert Frost

'Speaking of contraries, see how the brook
In that white wave runs counter to itself.
It is from that in water we were from
Long, long before we were from any creature.
Here we, in our impatience of the steps,
Get back to the beginning of beginnings,
The stream of everything that runs away.
Some say existence like a Pirouot
And Pirouette, forever in one place,
Stands still and dances, but it runs away,
It seriously, sadly, runs away
To fill the abyss' void with emptiness.
It flows beside us in this water brook,
But it flows over us. It flows between us
To separate us for a panic moment.
It flows between us, over us, and with us.
And it is time, strength, tone, light, life and love-
And even substance lapsing unsubstantial;
The universal cataract of death
That spends to nothingness -- and unresisted,
Save by some strange resistance in itself,
Not just a swerving, but a throwing back,
As if regret were in it and were sacred.
It has this throwing backward on itself
So that the fall of most of it is always
Raising a little, sending up a little.
Our life runs down in sending up the clock.
The brook runs down in sending up our life.
The sun runs down in sending up the brook.
And there is something sending up the sun.
It is this backward motion toward the source,
Against the stream, that most we see ourselves in,
The tribute of the current to the source.
It is from this in nature we are from.
It is most us.'



The whole poem is here. The round up this week is at Picture Book of the Day.

6 comments:

  1. Beautiful, in that conversational way that Frost has. I'd never come across this one before.

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  2. Frost always finds the best truth in the simple things we walk by. Who else noticed the running back in the forward stream, and thought about it, and wrote to us about it? I love these lines:

    As if regret were in it and were sacred.
    It has this throwing backward on itself
    So that the fall of most of it is always
    Raising a little, sending up a little.

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  3. This poem was new to me, too. Interesting how such deep truths are revealed in a somewhat casual conversation. Perfect photo for the poem!

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  4. What is it about Frost that speaks so simply and directly to so many people?

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  5. "It is this backward motion toward the source,
    Against the stream, that most we see ourselves in...."

    Lovely poem (and lovely photo!) Thanks.

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  6. Gorgeous. Frost's use of iambic pentameter here is so subtle that it reads almost like free verse. Almost.

    I love how he manages to come across as both depressed and hopeful and fatalistic and more all in one poem.

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