Tuesday 26 March 2019

'A fact as eerie as a dream...'

Robert Frost was born on this day in 1874 (as was A.E. Housman in 1859). Frost's centenary fell therefore on March 26th, 1974, so I was pleased to find that the Richard Wilbur poem usually titled April 5th, 1974 sometimes turns up as March 26th, 1974. If it isn't a centenary tribute to Frost – whom Wilbur hugely admired, and with whom he had a kind of family connection – then it certainly should be. It is one of the most Frostian of all Wilbur's poems, recalling the 'frozen ground-swell' of Frost's Mending Wall.
Here it is – call it what you will. It's a lovely piece of work, with a wonderful ending...

The air was soft, the ground still cold.
In wet dull pastures where I strolled
Was something I could not believe.
Dead grass appeared to slide and heave,
Though still too frozen-flat to stir,
And rocks to twitch, and all to blur.
What was this rippling of the land?
Was matter getting out of hand
And making free with natural law?
I stopped and blinked, and then I saw
A fact as eerie as a dream.
There was a subtle flood of stream
Moving upon the face of things.
It came from standing pools and springs
And what of snow was still around;
It came of winter’s giving ground
So that the freeze was coming out,
As when a set mind, blessed by doubt,
Relaxes into mother-wit.
Flowers, I said, will come of it.


  1. The joy of that last line. Many thanks.

  2. Yes, Wilbur is the absolute master of the last line. Thanks Dee.