Robert Frost

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

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.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • D Snyder (11/12/2013 11:16:00 PM)

    I particularly enjoyed Frost's use of echoing sounds in the poem. the first line's fast is followed by the identical F sound in the word field, and the ast of past. This is repeated throughout the poem in several instances, and gives a the reader a spacial understanding of the emptiness of these desert places- something particularly powerful when the speaker goes as far as to internalize all the emptiness of the universe into himself. Feel free to use that, future student. (Report) Reply

  • ian Blizard (2/11/2013 4:58:00 PM)

    Who is the copyright holder because i'm doing a bibliography and i need to have that in there (Report) Reply

  • Perry Weiner (5/30/2012 1:30:00 PM)

    Always haunted by this poem. Particularly beautiful: I am too absent-spirited to count; /
    The loneliness includes me unawares. And the wonderful rhyme, almost incongruous in its cleverness:
    They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
    Between stars - on stars where no human race is. Wonderful poet! Sometimes under-rated by posturers, alas! (Report) Reply

  • Yacov Mitchenko (6/2/2010)

    This is an excellent poem. It's tightly controlled, terse, and deep. The theme covered here is similar to that of Dickinson's poem in which she says 'The brain has corridors surpassing/Material place.' We needn't look very far outward: We have terrifying realms within. The landscape and the attendant loneliness Frost describes is the sort of thing that many Romantic poets have done, which is to project their feelings onto nature, though perhaps at the time they were writing their poems there was no distinguishing outer from inner. (Report) Reply

  • Terry Haley (3/9/2010 2:40:00 PM)

    It sounds to me like the guy is describing being lost in the woods. A sort of calm seems to come over the guy in the poem. But I'm not a big Robert Frost fan either. His poems do not have that touch of cool, that is in all good poetry. (Report) Reply

  • Andrew Hoellering (4/22/2009 7:34:00 AM)

    The entire poem is an objective correlative for the last line. The ‘desert places’ are

    within and without, and Frost conveys this by both image and the sound of his

    lines.

    In the first verse snow and night fall together; in the second all life is obliterated

    and the third sums up the aspects of nature that include the poet as an observer.



    The last verse refers to Pascal’s famous aphorism, “Le silence des ces espaces

    infinis m’effraye”- the silence of these infinite spaces terrifies me. Because of

    Frost’s superb preceding lines, it carries total conviction. (Report) Reply

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