Robert Frost

(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963 / San Francisco)

Birches - Poem by Robert Frost

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm,
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows-
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Topic(s) of this poem: trees


Comments about Birches by Robert Frost

  • Sarah Bradley Sarah Bradley (5/23/2016 11:48:00 AM)

    this is a great poem, i love nature (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Vivek Kumar Vivek Kumar (4/25/2016 10:23:00 PM)

    that is a lovely n beautiful nature poem... (Report) Reply

  • Haruna Garba Haruna Garba (4/7/2016 11:27:00 AM)

    Earth's the right place for love:
    I don't know where it's likely to go better.
    I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree

    well penned. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams Susan Williams (3/22/2016 1:22:00 PM)

    Here is a nugget of wisdom and though it is free don't think that it came cheap. This poem gains in wisdom and in beauty and in yearning the older you get. I climbed my birches when I was young and I swung from my brand of willows and now I understand what Frost first said to me many years ago. We are a lucky people to have access to such works as these (Report) Reply

  • Moira Cameron Moira Cameron (3/22/2016 11:15:00 AM)

    This is one of those non-rhyming iambic pentameter formats. I loved the description of the ice onthe branches; so vivid. One could almost hear the crackling he describes. I thing this poem appeals to some people so much because it describes the wistfulness of an older person thinking about lost youth. I hadn't read this before, but quite enjoyed it. (Report) Reply

  • Kim Barney (3/22/2016 10:42:00 AM)

    I agree with Barry Middleton. I usually do love Robert Frost, but on this particular poem I pretty much agree with the 6.6 rating. (Report) Reply

  • Barry Middleton Barry Middleton (3/22/2016 7:51:00 AM)

    Amazing how everyone seems to love this poet and this poem but somehow it gets rated 6.6 (Report) Reply

    Bill Galvin Bill Galvin (3/22/2016 10:41:00 AM)

    My sentiments, too, Barry. I've seen it on this site before. Some of the best work of all time goes underappreciated here. Doesn't make sense at all.

  • John Richter (3/22/2016 6:51:00 AM)

    Birch trees by themselves are beautiful creation. Mixed with the wonderment and boyhood memories like only Robert Frost can evoke makes them marvelous also. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis Edward Kofi Louis (3/22/2016 5:04:00 AM)

    Broken glass! ! With the muse of life. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Savita Tyagi (3/22/2016 4:02:00 AM)

    Love reading Robert Frost. Simply amazing. (Report) Reply

  • Kimberley Magrin (2/9/2016 2:43:00 AM)

    I had homework and had to write a poem and tell it to the class and it had to be at least one minute long. I didn't know what to do so I just got this one because it sounded peaceful and perfect for school. It worked and I got an A+. Already Reported Reply

  • Bryan Corbett Bryan Corbett (1/12/2016 5:32:00 PM)

    awesome...just awesome (Report) Reply

  • Muhammad Imtiyaz Muhammad Imtiyaz (12/22/2015 11:15:00 AM)

    amazing poem (Report) Reply

  • Emily Krauss Emily Krauss (12/11/2015 6:43:00 PM)

    I love Birches by Robert Frost. I love all of Robert Frosts Poems and think he is an amazing poet. (Report) Reply

  • Manonton Dalan (12/7/2015 3:03:00 PM)

    beautifully crafted......great (Report) Reply

  • Gobinda Sahoo Gobinda Sahoo (12/6/2015 7:37:00 PM)

    One of the powerful writings of Frost with imagery and symbols in abundance. (Report) Reply

  • Manonton Dalan (12/4/2015 1:56:00 AM)

    picturesque poem... it's awesome gift to write words that transcend to picture (Report) Reply

  • Laura Mcdonald-amurun (12/3/2015 11:53:00 AM)

    I love nature poems and isn't an exception. Beautifully written. (Report) Reply

  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (11/17/2015 2:54:00 AM)

    A life too much like a pathless wood.....Wonderful writings of the great poet. (Report) Reply

  • Melvina Germain Melvina Germain (11/10/2015 12:28:00 PM)

    Nature, a true Blessing indeed..... (Report) Reply

Read all 32 comments »




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Read poems about / on: tree, winter, snow, heaven, fate, father, sun, summer, truth, hair, rain, dream, alone, girl, rose



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Poem Edited: Wednesday, December 24, 2014


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