Birches Poem by Robert Frost


Rating: 3.4

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.

Friday, January 3, 2003
Topic(s) of this poem: trees
Susan Williams 22 March 2016

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

33 10 Reply
Haruna Garba 07 April 2016

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.

17 15 Reply
Gangadharan Nair Pulingat 10 December 2014

Love to the nature the poet made wonderful poem and it is awesome.

20 9 Reply
Dedan Onyango 15 July 2015

Well it always one thing to know nature and another thing to paint it through words

16 10 Reply
Kimberley Magrin 09 February 2016

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+.

17 8 Reply
L Milton Hankins 18 September 2020

A lovely tribute to boyhood and birches. A New Englander most understands this Frost.

0 1 Reply
Florence 23 August 2019

I have always loved this poem. Frost is so adept at putting so much meaning and wisdom in natural world around us. In simplicity of tree, ice, and young farm boy, he gives a more profound message on life, how we live and at times how difficult it can be, but the Earth is the right place for love!

0 1 Reply

The poem also depicts life as where to be loved and love inreturn

12 9 Reply

Robert frost presented a birch tree to talk about the experience of his childhood experience and the tribulation that encapsulates human race.

9 4 Reply

This poem is really wonderful and well composed

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