Robert Lee Frost ( )


The Mountain


The mountain held the town as in a shadow 
I saw so much before I slept there once: 
I noticed that I missed stars in the west, 
Where its black body cut into the sky. 
Near me it seemed: I felt it like a wall 
Behind which I was sheltered from a wind. 
And yet between the town and it I found, 
When I walked forth at dawn to see new things, 
Were fields, a river, and beyond, more fields. 
The river at the time was fallen away, 
And made a widespread brawl on cobble-stones; 
But the signs showed what it had done in spring; 
Good grass-land gullied out, and in the grass 
Ridges of sand, and driftwood stripped of bark. 
I crossed the river and swung round the mountain. 
And there I met a man who moved so slow 
With white-faced oxen in a heavy cart, 
It seemed no hand to stop him altogether. 
What town is this? I asked. 
This? Lunenburg. 
Then I was wrong: the town of my sojourn, 
Beyond the bridge, was not that of the mountain, 
But only felt at night its shadowy presence. 
Where is your village? Very far from here? 
There is no village--only scattered farms. 
We were but sixty voters last election. 
We cant in nature grow to many more: 
That thing takes all the room! He moved his goad. 
The mountain stood there to be pointed at. 
Pasture ran up the side a little way, 
And then there was a wall of trees with trunks: 
After that only tops of trees, and cliffs 
Imperfectly concealed among the leaves. 
A dry ravine emerged from under boughs 
Into the pasture. 
That looks like a path. 
Is that the way to reach the top from here?-- 
Not for this morning, but some other time: 
I must be getting back to breakfast now. 
I dont advise your trying from this side. 
There is no proper path, but those that have 
Been up, I understand, have climbed from Ladds. 
Thats five miles back. You cant mistake the place: 
They logged it there last winter some way up. 
Id take you, but Im bound the other way. 
Youve never climbed it? 
Ive been on the sides 
Deer-hunting and trout-fishing. Theres a brook 
That starts up on it somewhere--Ive heard say 
Right on the top, tip-top--a curious thing. 
But what would interest you about the brook, 
Its always cold in summer, warm in winter. 
One of the great sights going is to see 
It steam in winter like an oxs breath, 
Until the bushes all along its banks 
Are inch-deep with the frosty spines and bristles-- 
You know the kind. Then let the sun shine on it! 
There ought to be a view around the world 
From such a mountain--if it isnt wooded 
Clear to the top. I saw through leafy screens 
Great granite terraces in sun and shadow, 
Shelves one could rest a knee on getting up-- 
With depths behind him sheer a hundred feet; 
Or turn and sit on and look out and down, 
With little ferns in crevices at his elbow. 
As to that I cant say. But theres the spring, 
Right on the summit, almost like a fountain. 
That ought to be worth seeing. 
If its there. 
You never saw it? 
I guess theres no doubt 
About its being there. I never saw it. 
It may not be right on the very top: 
It wouldnt have to be a long way down 
To have some head of water from above, 
And a good distance down might not be noticed 
By anyone whod come a long way up. 
One time I asked a fellow climbing it 
To look and tell me later how it was. 
What did he say? 
He said there was a lake 
Somewhere in Ireland on a mountain top. 
But a lakes different. What about the spring? 
He never got up high enough to see. 
Thats why I dont advise your trying this side. 
He tried this side. Ive always meant to go 
And look myself, but you know how it is: 
It doesnt seem so much to climb a mountain 
Youve worked around the foot of all your life. 
What would I do? Go in my overalls, 
With a big stick, the same as when the cows 
Havent come down to the bars at milking time? 
Or with a shotgun for a stray black bear? 
Twouldnt seem real to climb for climbing it. 
I shouldnt climb it if I didnt want to-- 
Not for the sake of climbing. Whats its name? 
We call it Hor: I dont know if thats right. 
Can one walk around it? Would it be too far? 
You can drive round and keep in Lunenburg, 
But its as much as ever you can do, 
The boundary lines keep in so close to it. 
Hor is the township, and the townships Hor-- 
And a few houses sprinkled round the foot, 
Like boulders broken off the upper cliff, 
Rolled out a little farther than the rest. 
Warm in December, cold in June, you say? 
I dont suppose the waters changed at all. 
You and I know enough to know its warm 
Compared with cold, and cold compared with warm. 
But all the funs in how you say a thing. 
Youve lived here all your life? 
Ever since Hor 
Was no bigger than a---- What, I did not hear. 
He drew the oxen toward him with light touches 
Of his slim goad on nose and offside flank, 
Gave them their marching orders and was moving.



Robert Lee Frost's other poems:
  1. Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter
  2. The Demiurges Laugh
  3. The Census-Taker
  4. The Thatch
  5. Two Look at Two


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