January 18, 2021

Pic & Poem of the Week: July 31, 2016


Old Barn with Stump

(Click on picture for larger image)

• • •

The Need of Being Versed in Country Things

The house had gone to bring again
To the midnight sky a sunset glow.
Now the chimney was all of the house that stood,
Like a pistil after the petals go.

The barn opposed across the way,
That would have joined the house in flame
Had it been the will of the wind, was left
To bear forsaken the place’s name.

No more it opened with all one end
For teams that came by the stony road
To drum on the floor with scurrying hoofs
And brush the mow with the summer load.

The birds that came to it through the air
At broken windows flew out and in,
Their murmur more like the sigh we sigh
From too much dwelling on what has been.

Yet for them the lilac renewed its leaf,
And the aged elm, though touched with fire;
And the dry pump flung up an awkward arm;
And the fence post carried a strand of wire.

For them there was really nothing sad.
But though they rejoiced in the nest they kept,
One had to be versed in country things
Not to believe the phoebes wept.

By Robert Frost


  1. Poignant and lovely, both the picture and the poem. Absolutely lovely.

  2. A slightly more Midwestern landscape than the one I see here in Texas but familiar still. I would post a couple of pics if I were able. I see these barns and get a feeling of serenity or nostalgia even though they probably, though not necessarily, represent loss. Loss of land. Loss of income. Loss of a way of life. Ah the mixed bag that is this life.

  3. I like to read these poems without peeking ahead to see who wrote it. This one was a surprise, perhaps partly because of the pictured flatland. I don’t remember reading this one before. It fits my mood this morning, which matches the overcast sky. Fits our talks of Wendell Berry and the present American and world situation, which itself threatens to light up the midnight sky big time. If my house burned down, I could live in my barn. Folks around here are the first I’ve ever run into who don’t view living in a barn as crazy talk. You can buy a patch of woods here, build a pole barn on it, and move in. Makes sense to me, maybe the only thing making much sense this morning, along with some old time gospel Bill Gaither music. Haven’t walked in my back woods much lately. Need to do that, see if my old dog wants to go along while he still can.

  4. Frost is one of my favorite poets, but I don’t remember reading this one before. Thanks for posting it.

  5. Heather Angus says

    Beautiful Frost poem. Thank you, CM.

  6. Robert F says

    Broken old well house.
    back along the old road, where
    it’s always Autumn.

  7. For an entirely different take on life in the country, read some amazing short stories by Flannery O’Connor like Good Country People and The Enduring Chill and Greenleaf and The Displaced Person.

    • This past week I acquired an old copy of Carl Sandburg’s stories called Rootabaga Country from the 20’s. Never much cared for Sandburg but these are intriguing enough to keep me reading. Hard to describe but maybe something like a Midwestern Alice in Wonderland. I would be most interested in seeing whether they appealed to young children today. Does anything appeal to young children today in the non-digital world? I am sadly out of touch with young people and wish it were not so.

      That’s aside from my egg lady’s youngest, Nicholas, who is starting school this fall, and who relates long, complicated accounts of his adventures to me which I can sometimes catch the gist of, but most often have to turn to his mom for a translation. He is intelligent, highly aware, creative, energetic, seems to see and hear with no problem, doesn’t appear to have any disabilities other than not being able to speak the same language as those he lives with. How is this kid going to make it in school if he doesn’t have an understanding teacher and a friend who can interpret for him? It’s not like he’s backward. He is probably amongst those the world is hoping come along to save it, and he may get diagnosed with some psychological disability and prescribed drugs to dumb and quieten him down. I wouldn’t want to be the psychologist who recommends that to his mother. She’s not much above average intelligence and education, but please don’t be the one to suggest she poke pills down this incipient genius to make him more like others and less of a problem. Talk about kicking a hornet’s nest. I like her a lot. I buy my eggs from her because of of how she loves her chickens. She doesn’t look it but she’s pushing fifty, was a good looking blonde thirty years ago, still holds her own, and the first time I saw her she had brilliant neon red hair. Alternates with bright blue. Amazing what you find out in the sticks.

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