Death Poems: The Death Of The Hired Man - Poem by Robert Frost

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The Death Of The Hired Man - Poem by Robert Frost

Mary sat musing on the lamp-flame at the table
Waiting for Warren. When she heard his step,
She ran on tip-toe down the darkened passage
To meet him in the doorway with the news
And put him on his guard. "Silas is back."
She pushed him outward with her through the door
And shut it after her. "Be kind," she said.
She took the market things from Warren's arms
And set them on the porch, then drew him down
To sit beside her on the wooden steps.

"When was I ever anything but kind to him?
But I'll not have the fellow back," he said.
"I told him so last haying, didn't I?
'If he left then,' I said, 'that ended it.'
What good is he? Who else will harbour him
At his age for the little he can do?
What help he is there's no depending on.
Off he goes always when I need him most.
'He thinks he ought to earn a little pay,
Enough at least to buy tobacco with,
So he won't have to beg and be beholden.'
'All right,' I say, 'I can't afford to pay
Any fixed wages, though I wish I could.'
'Someone else can.' 'Then someone else will have to.'
I shouldn't mind his bettering himself
If that was what it was. You can be certain,
When he begins like that, there's someone at him
Trying to coax him off with pocket-money,--
In haying time, when any help is scarce.
In winter he comes back to us. I'm done."

"Sh! not so loud: he'll hear you," Mary said.

"I want him to: he'll have to soon or late."

"He's worn out. He's asleep beside the stove.
When I came up from Rowe's I found him here,
Huddled against the barn-door fast asleep,
A miserable sight, and frightening, too--
You needn't smile--I didn't recognise him--
I wasn't looking for him--and he's changed.
Wait till you see."

"Where did you say he'd been?"

"He didn't say. I dragged him to the house,
And gave him tea and tried to make him smoke.
I tried to make him talk about his travels.
Nothing would do: he just kept nodding off."

"What did he say? Did he say anything?"

"But little."

"Anything? Mary, confess
He said he'd come to ditch the meadow for me."

"Warren!"

" ;But did he? I just want to know."

"Of course he did. What would you have him say?
Surely you wouldn't grudge the poor old man
Some humble way to save his self-respect.
He added, if you really care to know,
He meant to clear the upper pasture, too.
That sounds like something you have heard before?
Warren, I wish you could have heard the way
He jumbled everything. I stopped to look
Two or three times--he made me feel so queer--
To see if he was talking in his sleep.
He ran on Harold Wilson--you remember--
The boy you had in haying four years since.
He's finished school, and teaching in his college.
Silas declares you'll have to get him back.
He says they two will make a team for work:
Between them they will lay this farm as smooth!
The way he mixed that in with other things.
He thinks young Wilson a likely lad, though daft
On education--you know how they fought
All through July under the blazing sun,
Silas up on the cart to build the load,
Harold along beside to pitch it on."

"Yes, I took care to keep well out of earshot."

"Well, those days trouble Silas like a dream.
You wouldn't think they would. How some things linger!
Harold's young college boy's assurance piqued him.
After so many years he still keeps finding
Good arguments he sees he might have used.
I sympathise. I know just how it feels
To think of the right thing to say too late.
Harold's associated in his mind with Latin.
He asked me what I thought of Harold's saying
He studied Latin like the violin
Because he liked it--that an argument!
He said he couldn't make the boy believe
He could find water with a hazel prong--
Which showed how much good school had ever done him.
He wanted to go over that. But most of all
He thinks if he could have another chance
To teach him how to build a load of hay----"

"I know, that's Silas' one accomplishment.
He bundles every forkful in its place,
And tags and numbers it for future reference,
So he can find and easily dislodge it
In the unloading. Silas does that well.
He takes it out in bunches like big birds' nests.
You never see him standing on the hay
He's trying to lift, straining to lift himself."

"He thinks if he could teach him that, he'd be
Some good perhaps to someone in the world.
He hates to see a boy the fool of books.
Poor Silas, so concerned for other folk,
And nothing to look backward to with pride,
And nothing to look forward to with hope,
So now and never any different."

Part of a moon was falling down the west,
Dragging the whole sky with it to the hills.
Its light poured softly in her lap. She saw
And spread her apron to it. She put out her hand
Among the harp-like morning-glory strings,
Taut with the dew from garden bed to eaves,
As if she played unheard the tenderness
That wrought on him beside her in the night.
"Warren," she said, "he has come home to die:
You needn't be afraid he'll leave you this time."

"Home," he mocked gently.

"Yes, what else but home?
It all depends on what you mean by home.
Of course he's nothing to us, any more
Than was the hound that came a stranger to us
Out of the woods, worn out upon the trail."

"Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in."

"I should have called it
Something you somehow haven't to deserve."

Warren leaned out and took a step or two,
Picked up a little stick, and brought it back
And broke it in his hand and tossed it by.
"Silas has better claim on us you think
Than on his brother? Thirteen little miles
As the road winds would bring him to his door.
Silas has walked that far no doubt to-day.
Why didn't he go there? His brother's rich,
A somebody--director in the bank."

"He never told us that."

"We know it though."

"I think his brother ought to help, of course.
I'll see to that if there is need. He ought of right
To take him in, and might be willing to--
He may be better than appearances.
But have some pity on Silas. Do you think
If he'd had any pride in claiming kin
Or anything he looked for from his brother,
He'd keep so still about him all this time?"

"I wonder what's between them."

"I can tell you.
Silas is what he is--we wouldn't mind him--
But just the kind that kinsfolk can't abide.
He never did a thing so very bad.
He don't know why he isn't quite as good
As anyone. He won't be made ashamed
To please his brother, worthless though he is."

"I can't think Si ever hurt anyone."

"No, but he hurt my heart the way he lay
And rolled his old head on that sharp-edged chair-back.
He wouldn't let me put him on the lounge.
You must go in and see what you can do.
I made the bed up for him there to-night.
You'll be surprised at him--how much he's broken.
His working days are done; I'm sure of it."

"I'd not be in a hurry to say that."

"I haven't been. Go, look, see for yourself.
But, Warren, please remember how it is:
He's come to help you ditch the meadow.
He has a plan. You mustn't laugh at him.
He may not speak of it, and then he may.
I'll sit and see if that small sailing cloud
Will hit or miss the moon."

It hit the moon.
Then there were three there, making a dim row,
The moon, the little silver cloud, and she.

Warren returned--too soon, it seemed to her,
Slipped to her side, caught up her hand and waited.

"Warren," she questioned.

"Dead," was all he answered.

Comments about The Death Of The Hired Man by Robert Frost

  • comments and concerns 4/23/2018 11:58:00 AM

    its a bit long i dont have a long time to read poems i would consider making it less for your next one Reply

    halo peeps (4/23/2018 11:59:00 AM)

    i agree took at little long to read but it was a good poem

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Bikash Kc 1/15/2013 11:11:00 PM

    one should read this poem because it is a real depiction of the family members.. Reply

    7 person liked.
    4 person did not like.
Death Poems
  1. 1. Let Me Die A Youngman's Death
    Roger McGough
  2. 2. And Death Shall Have No Dominion
    Dylan Thomas
  3. 3. Death Be Not Proud
    John Donne
  4. 4. Death Is Nothing At All
    Henry Scott Holland
  5. 5. Because I Could Not Stop For Death
    Emily Dickinson
  6. 6. Nothing But Death
    Pablo Neruda
  7. 7. A Refusal To Mourn The Death, By Fire, O..
    Dylan Thomas
  8. 8. A Dream Of Death
    William Butler Yeats
  9. 9. Father Death Blues
    Allen Ginsberg
  10. 10. A Poet's Death Is His Life Iv
    Khalil Gibran
  11. 11. A Death Blow Is A Life Blow To Some
    Emily Dickinson
  12. 12. An Irish Airman Forsees His Death
    William Butler Yeats
  13. 13. A City's Death By Fire
    Derek Walcott
  14. 14. Death Wants More Death
    Charles Bukowski
  15. 15. Death
    Rainer Maria Rilke
  16. 16. The Beauty Of Death Xiv
    Khalil Gibran
  17. 17. The Death Of The Ball Turret Gunner
    Randall Jarrell
  18. 18. Death Xxvii
    Khalil Gibran
  19. 19. After Death
    Sara Teasdale
  20. 20. The Death Of Joy Gardner
    Benjamin Zephaniah
  21. 21. A Funeral Poem On The Death Of C. E. An ..
    Phillis Wheatley
  22. 22. Death Leaves Us Homesick, Who Behind
    Emily Dickinson
  23. 23. A Thought For A Lonely Death-Bed
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  24. 24. On The Death Of A Young Lady Of Five Yea..
    Phillis Wheatley
  25. 25. A Ballad Of Death
    Algernon Charles Swinburne
  26. 26. First Death In Nova Scotia
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  27. 27. Gacela Of The Dark Death
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  28. 28. Holy Sonnet X: Death Be Not Proud
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  29. 29. Go Down, Death
    James Weldon Johnson
  30. 30. Death &Amp; Fame
    Allen Ginsberg
  31. 31. The Death Of The Hired Man
    Robert Frost
  32. 32. Love &Amp; Fame &Amp; Death
    Charles Bukowski
  33. 33. I Have A Rendezvous With Death
    Alan Seeger
  34. 34. Death Fugue
    Paul Celan
  35. 35. On The Death Of Anne Brontë
    Charlotte Brontë
  36. 36. On The Death Of That Most Excellent Lady,
    Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
  37. 37. For The Anniversary Of My Death
    William Stanley Merwin
  38. 38. If Death Is Kind
    Sara Teasdale
  39. 39. On Death
    Anne Killigrew
  40. 40. Fugue Of Death
    Paul Celan
  41. 41. As At Thy Portals Also Death
    Walt Whitman
  42. 42. Death Stands Above Me, Whispering Low
    Walter Savage Landor
  43. 43. The Death Of The Flowers
    William Cullen Bryant
  44. 44. An Elegy On The Death Of Kenneth Patchen
    Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  45. 45. Death
    Heinrich Heine
  46. 46. On Hearing Of A Death
    Rainer Maria Rilke
  47. 47. Death
    William Butler Yeats
  48. 48. A Death-Bed
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  49. 49. A Satirical Elegy On The Death Of A Late..
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  50. 50. Absence Disembodies—so Does Death
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Death Poems

  1. Death Be Not Proud

    Death be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe, For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow, Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee. From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee, Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee doe goe, Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie. Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell, And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well, And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then? One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally, And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

  2. Let Me Die A Youngman's Death

    Let me die a youngman's death not a clean and inbetween the sheets holywater death not a famous-last-words peaceful out of breath death When I'm 73 and in constant good tumour may I be mown down at dawn by a bright red sports car on my way home from an allnight party Or when I'm 91 with silver hair and sitting in a barber's chair may rival gangsters with hamfisted tommyguns burst in and give me a short back and insides Or when I'm 104 and banned from the Cavern may my mistress catching me in bed with her daughter and fearing for her son cut me up into little pieces and throw away every piece but one Let me die a youngman's death not a free from sin tiptoe in candle wax and waning death not a curtains drawn by angels borne 'what a nice way to go' death

  3. And Death Shall Have No Dominion

    And death shall have no dominion. Dead man naked they shall be one With the man in the wind and the west moon; When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone, They shall have stars at elbow and foot; Though they go mad they shall be sane, Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again; Though lovers be lost love shall not; And death shall have no dominion. And death shall have no dominion. Under the windings of the sea They lying long shall not die windily; Twisting on racks when sinews give way, Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break; Faith in their hands shall snap in two, And the unicorn evils run them through; Split all ends up they shan't crack; And death shall have no dominion. And death shall have no dominion. No more may gulls cry at their ears Or waves break loud on the seashores; Where blew a flower may a flower no more Lift its head to the blows of the rain; Though they be mad and dead as nails, Heads of the characters hammer through daisies; Break in the sun till the sun breaks down, And death shall have no dominion.

  4. Because I Could Not Stop For Death

    Because I could not stop for Death- He kindly stopped for me- The Carriage held but just Ourselves- And Immortality. We slowly drove- He knew no haste And I had put away My labor and my leisure too, For His Civility- We passed the School, where Children strove At Recess- in the Ring- We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain- We passed the Setting Sun- Or rather- He passed us- The Dews drew quivering and chill- For only Gossamer, my Gown- My Tippet- only Tulle- We paused before a House that seemed A Swelling of the Ground- The Roof was scarcely visible- The Cornice- in the Ground- Since then- 'tis Centuries- and yet Feels shorter than the Day I first surmised the Horses' Heads Were toward Eternity-

  5. Death Is Nothing At All

    Death is nothing at all. I have only slipped away to the next room. I am I and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, That, we still are. Call me by my old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effect. Without the trace of a shadow on it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same that it ever was. There is absolute unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you. For an interval. Somewhere. Very near. Just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one together with Christ.