When I go up through the mowing field,
The headless aftermath,
Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
Half closes the garden path.
And when I come to the garden ground,
The whir of sober birds
Up from the tangle of withered weeds
Is sadder than any words
A tree beside the wall stands bare,
But a leaf that lingered brown,
Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
Comes softly rattling down.
I end not far from my going forth
By picking the faded blue
Of the last remaining aster flower
To carry again to you.
Robert Frost has always been a favorite of mine. His poems are such a popular subject of study in the American education system that some folks might find him a little passé. Contrary to this view, I would argue that the reason that he is so popular is a function of the enormous aesthetic value of his works.
As I have been rereading some of his poems, I had some thoughts that I wanted to share about “A Late Walk Poem.”
I find this verse to be extremely poignant. Obviously, it represents the decline of life. Frost presents us with the imagery of a harvested field, birds migrating ahead of the approaching winter, withered weeds and a bare tree. There is a reference to sadness.
I think that the imagery and words here are very effective. When I read this I can almost smell the scent of autumn in the air and feel the chilled air against my skin. The best of poets is capable in eliciting such memories for me.
The last few lines of this work make it very distinctive. The aster flower often represents love and enchantment. It is the one flower remaining. It seems that the voice of the poem is experiencing decline and may be nearing the end, but his love and sense of enchantment is still intact.
In the midst of the darkness of decline and death, there is love and human connection. This is a bittersweet reference, however. The flower seems to represent the last of the positive emotions. In some ways, this adds to the sadness of verse.
This level of pathos surrounding death and loss seems to me to be common in Frost’s work. The poet has such a way when he describes the grayness that seems inherent in life. Frost is not a nihilist, he values love and other positive emotions, as is illustrated in this poem. In his work, however, it is apparent that all things in life are marked by the shadow that death and loss brings to everyone.