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On The Porch At The Frost Place, Franconia, N. H. Analysis

Author: Poetry of William Matthews Type: Poetry Views: 195

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So here the great man stood,

fermenting malice and poems

we have to be nearly as fierce

against ourselves as he

not to misread by their disguises.

Blue in dawn haze, the tamarack

across the road is new since Frost

and thirty feet tall already.

No doubt he liked to scorch off

morning fog by simply staring through it

long enough so that what he saw

grew visible. "Watching the dragon

come out of the Notch," his children

used to call it. And no wonder

he chose a climate whose winter

and house whose isolation could be

stern enough to his wrath and pity

as to make them seem survival skills

he'd learned on the job, farming

fifty acres of pasture and woods.

For cash crops he had sweat and doubt

and moralizing rage, those staples

of the barter system. And these swift

and aching summers, like the blackberries

I've been poaching down the road

from the house where no one's home --

acid at first and each little globe

of the berry too taut and distinct

from the others, then they swell to hold

the riot of their juices and briefly

the fat berries are perfected to my taste,

and then they begin to leak and blob

and under their crescendo of sugar

I can taste how they make it through winter. . . .

By the time I'm back from a last,

six-berry raid, it's almost dusk,

and more and more mosquitos

will race around my ear their tiny engines,

the speedboats of the insect world.

I won't be longer on the porch

than it takes to look out once

and see what I've taught myself

in two months here to discern:

night restoring its opacities,

though for an instant as intense

and evanescent as waking from a dream

of eating blackberries and almost

being able to remember it, I think

I see the parts -- haze, dusk, light

broken into grains, fatigue,

the mineral dark of the White Mountains,

the wavering shadows steadying themselves --

separate, then joined, then seamless:

the way, in fact, Frost's great poems,

like all great poems, conceal

what they merely know, to be

predicaments. However long

it took to watch what I thought

I saw, it was dark when I was done,

everywhere and on the porch,

and since nothing stopped

my sight, I let it go.


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