‘Thanks, Robert Frost’ a poem by David Ray


In the Friday Poem this week, poet David Ray poses a contemporary question to a legend of twentieth century American poetry, Robert Frost. “Do you have hope for the future?’

Frost was the writer the new U.S. President, John F. Kennedy, turned to for wisdom at his 1961 inaugural. Frost’s January, 1963 obituary described him as symbolizing “the rough-hewn individuality of the American creative spirit more than any other man.”

In this month of May when the inspirational messages of college commencement speakers  compete with the ceaseless, uncivil discourse of politicians, let’s revisit the wisdom of the previous century’s rural sage, through the gratitude of David Ray’s poem.

Thanks, Robert Frost

Do you have hope for the future?
someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.
Yes, and even for the past, he replied,
that it will turn out to have been all right
for what it was, something we can accept,
mistakes made by the selves we had to be,
not able to be, perhaps, what we wished,
or what looking back half the time it seems
we could so easily have been, or ought…
The future, yes, and even for the past,
that it will become something we can bear.
And I too, and my children, so I hope,
will recall as not too heavy the tug
of those albatrosses I sadly placed
upon their tender necks. Hope for the past,
yes, old Frost, your words provide that courage,
and it brings strange peace that itself passes
into past, easier to bear because
you said it, rather casually, as snow
went on falling in Vermont years ago.

David Ray   ‘Music of Time: Selected and New Poems’ 2006



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