Robert Frost

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

Neither Out Far Nor In Deep


The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.

As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be-
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Monday, January 27, 2014

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  • Stephen W (6/1/2013 4:48:00 PM)

    Frost tells us things about human nature, that perhaps we knew but had not taken notice of. We see ourselves anew through his eyes. (Report) Reply

  • Norman Dale (12/2/2007 12:53:00 PM)

    I have always loved this poem. It speaks to me of the more general way in which we are drawn so often to look or dwell about something even if we haven't an idea why. The sea does this and so do some people for each of us.

    I take some disagreement, though I know what he means, with what Frost says about the land varying more. Yes, obviously it does in terms of visible topography but one of the things that draws us to the sea and the coastal edge is surely its restlessness and changeability almost from moment to moment. This was beautifully captured by A.R. Ammons in his poem, 'Corsons Inlet' and is also imminent in the famous second stanza of Eliot's The Dry Salvages.

    It would be nice if the typo in the penultimate line (Btu) was corrected. (Report) Reply

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