Friday, January 15, 2016

Poetry Friday -- On Collaboration

via Unsplash

by Robert Frost

I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the levelled scene.

I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,—alone,

As all must be,' I said within my heart,
Whether they work together or apart.'

But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a 'wildered butterfly,

Seeking with memories grown dim o'er night
Some resting flower of yesterday's delight.

And once I marked his flight go round and round,
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.

And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.

I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;

But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.

I left my place to know them by their name,
Finding them butterfly weed when I came.

The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,

Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.

The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,

That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,

And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.

Men work together,' I told him from the heart,
Whether they work together or apart.'

This poem goes out to Heidi Mordhorst, with appreciation for her burst of submit-a-proposal-for-NCTE16 energy and the lingering joy of drafting and editing together on a Google Doc until the words (and word count!) (and presenters!) slipped into place like the proverbial hand in glove (with two hours to spare on Wednesday night!). Fingers crossed that our session is accepted!

Keri has the Poetry Friday roundup this week at Keri Recommends.


  1. Beautiful! Fingers crossed for you and the lucky people who would learn from you.

  2. Well, good morning! And thank you for sharing the little thrill of collaboration and this poetry gift--but we (and perhaps we women) already know what Frost had to learn: we work together, close or apart. Interesting link to Keri's post, too, about ideas knocking on doors all over.

  3. Anonymous10:20 AM

    Good luck! I quoted some poetic flowers this morning as well!

  4. Beautiful poem! Good luck with your proposal.

  5. Perfect pairing of poetry in word with poetry of deed! Best of luck with your NCTE16 proposal!

  6. Lovely poem, Mary Lee. Congrats on beating the deadline with your proposal - wishing you luck it will be accepted. =)

  7. Thanks for sharing your "sheer morning gladness" and congrats on getting your proposal in!

  8. I saw more than one trying to 'squeak' in by the deadline, Mary Lee. It's a lovely poem to thank Heidi, & new to me. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Anonymous8:36 PM

    What joy to "feel a spirit kindred to my own;" Good luck with your proposal, and thank you for sharing this poem. It's a beauty!

  10. Hear, hear and cheers too to kindred spirits and collaborations! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Mary Lee, the Robert Frost poem brought me back to my college days of lazily reading and reading poetry. "So that henceforth I worked no more alone;"-a peek into why you chose this poem during the flight to get your NCTE16 proposal to meet a deadline. I know that flurry of thought. Here's to hoping you will be presenting in Atlanta.

  12. I love the idea of working together with people who have gone before us, whether we ever met them or not.

  13. Working together... is there really any other way? (Spoken from a woman's perspective, of course.)

  14. I hope your proposal makes it through to reality. I'd love to be able to attend.

  15. Every blessing on the proposal submitted, and every blessing, too, on the collaborators who inspired the sharing of today's post. Regardless of the proposal outcome (which we're rooting will be favorable), you've made us the partner-winners in this enterprise, sharing a Frost poem that celebrates not only your proposal collaboration, but all the witting and unwitting collaboration inspired by your site, as well as by the sites of the other members of the Poetry Friday community! Thanks, and God bless you! Here's to a good result!

  16. Yay for collaboration and synergy and 2 hours to spare! Hope to see both of you front and center at next NCTE. xo

  17. I love that poem and it's a perfect tribute to your collaboration! Keep us posted -- what a talented PF family we have!

  18. Beautiful tribute to what sounds like a congenial collaboration. All the best to it! (Frost's ability to weight ordinary experiences with deep meaning is a source of great admiration - how does he do that!?)

  19. Hi Mary Lee, I am sure your proposal would be accepted at NCTE - and it will be a popular panel.
    "I thought of questions that have no reply,
    And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;"
    were the lines that spoke to me the most from this poem. Great reminder for teachers. :)


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