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Home Burial - Poem by Robert Frost

He saw her from the bottom of the stairs
Before she saw him. She was starting down,
Looking back over her shoulder at some fear.
She took a doubtful step and then undid it
To raise herself and look again. He spoke
Advancing toward her: "What is it you see
From up there always? -- for I want to know."
She turned and sank upon her skirts at that,
And her face changed from terrified to dull.
He said to gain time: "What is it you see?"
Mounting until she cowered under him.
"I will find out now -- you must tell me, dear."
She, in her place, refused him any help,
With the least stiffening of her neck and silence.
She let him look, sure that he wouldn't see,
Blind creature; and a while he didn't see.
But at last he murmured, "Oh" and again, "Oh."

"What is it -- what?" she said.

"Just that I see."

"You don't," she challenged. "Tell me what it is."

"The wonder is I didn't see at once.
I never noticed it from here before.
I must be wonted to it -- that's the reason.
The little graveyard where my people are!
So small the window frames the whole of it.
Not so much larger than a bedroom, is it?
There are three stones of slate and one of marble,
Broad-shouldered little slabs there in the sunlight
On the sidehill. We haven't to mind those.
But I understand: it is not the stones,
But the child's mound ----"

"Don't, don't, don't,
don't," she cried.

She withdrew, shrinking from beneath his arm
That rested on the banister, and slid downstairs;
And turned on him with such a daunting look,
He said twice over before he knew himself:
"Can't a man speak of his own child he's lost?"

"Not you! -- Oh, where's my hat? Oh, I don't need it!
I must get out of here. I must get air.--
I don't know rightly whether any man can."

"Amy! Don't go to someone else this time.
Listen to me. I won't come down the stairs."
He sat and fixed his chin between his fists.
"There's something I should like to ask you, dear."

"You don't know how to ask it."
"Help me, then."

Her fingers moved the latch for all reply.

"My words are nearly always an offense.
I don't know how to speak of anything
So as to please you. But I might be taught,
I should suppose. I can't say I see how.
A man must partly give up being a man
With womenfolk. We could have some arrangement
By which I'd bind myself to keep hands off
Anything special you're a-mind to name.
Though I don't like such things 'twixt those that love.
Two that don't love can't live together without them.
But two that do can't live together with them."
She moved the latch a little. "Don't -- don't go.
Don't carry it to someone else this time.
Tell me about it if it's something human.
Let me into your grief. I'm not so much
Unlike other folks as your standing there
Apart would make me out. Give me my chance.
I do think, though, you overdo it a little.
What was it brought you up to think it the thing
To take your mother-loss of a first child
So inconsolably -- in the face of love.
You'd think his memory might be satisfied ----"

"There you go sneering now!"

"I'm not, I'm not!
You make me angry. I'll come down to you.
God, what a woman! And it's come to this,
A man can't speak of his own child that's dead."

"You can't because you don't know how to speak.
If you had any feelings, you that dug
With your own hand -- how could you? -- his little grave;
I saw you from that very window there,
Making the gravel leap and leap in air,
Leap up, like that, like that, and land so lightly
And roll back down the mound beside the hole.
I thought, Who is that man? I didn't know you.
And I crept down the stairs and up the stairs
To look again, and still your spade kept lifting.
Then you came in. I heard your rumbling voice
Out in the kitchen, and I don't know why,
But I went near to see with my own eyes.
You could sit there with the stains on your shoes
Of the fresh earth from your own baby's grave
And talk about your everyday concerns.
You had stood the spade up against the wall
Outside there in the entry, for I saw it."

"I shall laugh the worst laugh I ever laughed.
I'm cursed. God, if I don't believe I'm cursed."

"I can repeat the very words you were saying:
'Three foggy mornings and one rainy day
Will rot the best birch fence a man can build.'
Think of it, talk like that at such a time!
What had how long it takes a birch to rot
To do with what was in the darkened parlour?
You couldn't care! The nearest friends can go
With anyone to death, comes so far short
They might as well not try to go at all.
No, from the time when one is sick to death,
One is alone, and he dies more alone.
Friends make pretense of following to the grave,
But before one is in it, their minds are turned
And making the best of their way back to life
And living people, and things they understand.
But the world's evil. I won't have grief so
If I can change it. Oh, I won't, I won't!"

"There, you have said it all and you feel better.
You won't go now. You're crying. Close the door.
The heart's gone out of it: why keep it up?
Amyl There's someone coming down the road!"

"You -- oh, you think the talk is all. I must go --
Somewhere out of this house. How can I make you ----"

"If -- you -- do!" She was opening the door wider.
"Where do you mean to go? First tell me that.
I'll follow and bring you back by force. I will! --"


Comments about Home Burial by Robert Frost

  • Bronze Star - 2,382 Points Mark Arvizu (4/10/2015 9:18:00 AM)

    Loss of the living and the dead. (Report) Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Rookie - 0 Points Inanna Baskan (3/8/2015 4:53:00 PM)

    Grief, & other strong emotions, are expressed differently by men & women. A woman says what has happened & how she feels. A man can't stand to reveal his vulnerability. Saying how quickly a post can rot is his way of saying how vulnerable he is to the loss of his baby. His wife asks what a rotten post has to do with his dead baby in the dark parlor. EVERYTHING! The baby will soon rot in the ground. The mere use of the word rot tells us he is haunted by the loss, but she thinks he doesn't care. The lesson here is for a man to speak explicitly, not to just anyone, but to his wife- to trust her. The lesson here for a woman is to believe her husband when he says he cares- to trust him. Yes, this makes them vulnerable- that is what marriage is about. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 529 Points Brian Jani (4/26/2014 3:43:00 AM)

    Awesome I like this poem, check mine out (Report) Reply

Read all 8 comments »

Poems About Home

  1. 1. They Went Home , Maya Angelou
  2. 2. To A Daughter Leaving Home , Linda Pastan
  3. 3. Home And Love , Robert William Service
  4. 4. A Letter Home , Siegfried Sassoon
  5. 5. Home They Brought Her Warrior Dead , Alfred Lord Tennyson
  6. 6. Home Burial , Robert Frost
  7. 7. Welcome Home , Spike Milligan
  8. 8. My Childhood Home I See Again , Abraham Lincoln
  9. 9. Home For Thanksgiving , Linda Pastan
  10. 10. Home Thoughts, From Abroad , Robert Browning
  11. 11. Coming Home , Ernestine Northover
  12. 12. Letter Home , Natasha Trethewey
  13. 13. Home , Anne Brontë
  14. 14. Journey Home , Rabindranath Tagore
  15. 15. Home, Sweet Home , John Howard Payne
  16. 16. Bound For Your Distant Home , Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin
  17. 17. A Home Song , Henry Van Dyke
  18. 18. Home After Three Months Away , Robert Lowell
  19. 19. A Martian Sends A Postcard Home , Craig Raine
  20. 20. At Home , Christina Georgina Rossetti
  21. 21. Home Thoughts , Claude McKay
  22. 22. Down Home , Lucy Maud Montgomery
  23. 23. Home From Abroad , Laurie Lee
  24. 24. Home Thoughts, From The Sea , Robert Browning
  25. 25. On Home Beaches , Les Murray
  26. 26. Graydigger's Home , William Stafford
  27. 27. The Home , Rabindranath Tagore
  28. 28. Home Sweet Home , Siyabonga A Nxumalo
  29. 29. Away From Home Are Some And I— , Emily Dickinson
  30. 30. Home , Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
  31. 31. My Home , Ella Wheeler Wilcox
  32. 32. The Old Home Calls , Lucy Maud Montgomery
  33. 33. Come Home, Father! , Henry Clay Work
  34. 34. Who Goes Home? , Gilbert Keith Chesterton
  35. 35. Sweet Stay-At-Home , William Henry Davies
  36. 36. Almost Home , Sandra Fowler
  37. 37. When The Children Come Home , Henry Lawson
  38. 38. Home, Sweet Home , Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
  39. 39. Night In The Old Home , Thomas Hardy
  40. 40. Home , Rupert Brooke
  41. 41. The Hangman At Home , Carl Sandburg
  42. 42. The Wrong Way Home , James Tate
  43. 43. Variations At Home And Abroad , Kenneth Koch
  44. 44. Oh Stay At Home, My Lad , Alfred Edward Housman
  45. 45. The Princess: A Medley: Home They Brough.. , Alfred Lord Tennyson
  46. 46. Home , Zbigniew Herbert
  47. 47. Lines Written From Home , Anne Brontë
  48. 48. .home Sweet Home , Nikunj Sharma
  49. 49. Prophets At Home , Rudyard Kipling
  50. 50. How Bateese Came Home , William Henry Drummond
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