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

  • 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

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  • 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

  • Hussain (11/10/2015 7:42:00 AM)

    Loved it. Really its very beautiful to grow up in nature. (Report) Reply

  • Diane Forth-eglon Diane Forth-eglon (10/8/2015 3:51:00 PM)

    Love this poem, I could feel physically cold reading it due to the descriptive words to do with cold but it was a pleasant crisp coldness. I loved the line toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more (Report) Reply

  • Seema Jayaraman Seema Jayaraman (10/4/2015 10:53:00 PM)

    lovely poem.. so fortunate to be able to grow up with nature in farmlands...being able to swing from branches as one passes by.. (Report) Reply

  • Dedan Onyango Dedan Onyango (7/15/2015 1:13:00 PM)

    Well it always one thing to know nature and another thing to paint it through words (Report) Reply

  • Abdalla Juma Shenga (6/23/2015 9:21:00 AM)

    wonderful as always. beautiful as nature itself (Report) Reply

  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (12/10/2014 8:42:00 AM)

    Love to the nature the poet made wonderful poem and it is awesome. (Report) Reply

  • Brian Jani Brian Jani (4/26/2014 3:06:00 AM)

    Awesome I like this poem, check mine out (Report) Reply

  • Murugadas A Karippode Murugadas A Karippode (3/3/2014 8:16:00 AM)

    simply beautiful
    I can feel the beauty of imagination in each and every words (Report) Reply

  • Andrew Hoellering (12/31/2009 10:23:00 PM)

    The poem is not just about riding birches; it also works as a metaphor for doing anything well, i.e. for the patient mastering of facts and techniques involved in writing, art or science.
    Frost implies that the discipline learned in one field (e.g. by the boy who masters the art of riding his father’s trees) can successfully transfer to another.
    ‘You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen’ relates to ‘Earth’s the right place for love: /I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.’
    Frost sometimes uses nature to go beyond it to human nature, as here. (Report) Reply

  • Jennifer Wallace (5/28/2005 7:53:00 PM)

    I love this poem. Parts on recited in the movie, 'Here on Earth'. (Report) Reply

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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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