Poem introduction

Desert Places gives us a great and perhaps a typical example of what Frost meant by his famous idea of the ‘sound of sense’, the abstract vitality of speech that can be picked up by listening to two voices speaking on the other side of a door and the recognisable pitch of natural speech cadences. It seems to talk itself into being, shifting naturally in scale and emphasis between inwardness and outward ness and it’s one of those Frost-ian poems where the avuncular farmer poet goes very dark on us. It also reminds me of how, as a boy, Frost sold magazine subscriptions in order to buy himself a telescope to look at the stars.

Desert Places

Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.

The woods around it have it - it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less -
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars - on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.

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1After Apple Picking


2Desert Places

3Mending Wall


4The Road Not Taken


5The Silken Tent


6Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening