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

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"In White": Frost's Early Version Of Design

A dented spider like a snow drop white
On a white Heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of lifeless satin cloth -
Saw ever curious eye so strange a sight? -
Portent in little, assorted death and blight
Like the ingredients of a witches' broth? -
The beady spider, the flower like a froth,
And the moth carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The blue prunella every child's delight.
What brought the kindred spider to that height?
(Make we no thesis of the miller's plight.)
What but design of darkness and of night?
Design, design! Do I use the word aright?


Anonymous submission.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003
Edited: Wednesday, April 02, 2014


Read poems about / on: flower, snow, child, death, night, children

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Comments about this poem (A Soldier by Robert Frost )

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  • Cat Hodgson (6/18/2013 10:01:00 AM)

    I liked the question at the end of this poem.. Life is a plot... Cat

    25 person liked.
    37 person did not like.
  • Cat Hodgson (6/18/2013 10:01:00 AM)

    I liked the question at the end of this poem.. Life is a plot... Cat

  • Sarah Mcrae (6/13/2013 7:07:00 PM)

    a lovely refreshing-type poem

  • Rokie Nokishi (5/26/2013 11:29:00 PM)

    Oh, how I love Robert Frost and his unique flow and wording of his poems. Beautiful, as always.

  • William Kd (3/10/2013 5:14:00 PM)

    Positively Design.: -)

  • * Sunprincess * (10/5/2012 5:13:00 PM)

    wow did a Bing search on Heal-all, saw pictures it is a beautiful plant..this created better visuals and made the poem more beautiful..thanks

  • Andrew Hoellering (2/25/2009 3:16:00 AM)

    Frost’s brilliance emerges in the difference between this and the final version. In Design he changes the first line to ‘I found a dimpled spider, fat and white.’
    ‘Lifeless’ becomes ‘vivid’(L.3) and the fourth line ‘Assorted characters of death and blight.’ ‘Snow-drop’ replaces ‘beady’ in L.7, and the 8th line now reads ‘And dead wings carried like a paper kite.’
    Each substitution is more realistic, convincing and ominous, foreshadowing Design’s conclusion:
    What brought the kindred spider to that height,
    Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
    What but design of darkness to appal? -
    If design govern in a thing so small.

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