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HardRock

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“Birches” by Robert Frost


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

As ice storms do.


Often you must have seen them 5

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain.


They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.


Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells 10

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
15
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, 25

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, 30

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 35

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 45

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 not fate willfully misunderstand me 50

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 55

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.
 

Tdol

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HardRock said:
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay

As ice storms do.
(However, boy’s swinging does not make them stay bent like what ice storms do.)

I'd say stay bent as ice storms do.
;-)
 

Tdol

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HardRock said:
They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
(The trees collide against each other when the wind starts. They turn colorful when the wind hit and broke their trunks.)

I'm not sure that collide is the best verb for trees- how about bash against? Maybe the wind cracks the bark (enamel- a coating), rather than the trunk itself.
 

Tdol

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HardRock said:
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells 10

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.
(Soon the warmth of the sun makes them produce shiny shells (this should be paraphrased, too, as it's a poetic usage) that are falling on the hard face of the snow .You would think that the palace in Heaven had fallen on seeing such piles of scattered glass.)

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
15
So low for long, they never right themselves:

(These trees are pull down by the load to the dried –up fern tree. However, they are bent so low for a long time, they appear not to crack. They never return straight by themselves.) Hmm, I think the bracken is on the groung under the trees and the weight of the snow makes them sag down, and, if they are bent for long enopguh, they stay bent.
 

Tdol

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HardRock said:
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.

( You might see their trunks curved in the forest for years after, dragging their leaves on the floor like girls who are bending with their knees and hands on the floor and their hair stretched in front of them and over their heads in order to dry from the sun.)

I wouldn't say stretched, just hanging down. ;-)
 

Tdol

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HardRock said:
He always kept his poise 35

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.

(He always kept his way to the top of the tree, climbing with great care and pain just like when you want to pour a cup to its edge or even above its edge.)
Pain here means 'care', so i wouldn't repeat it. ;-)
 

RonBee

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In the poem, Frost compares ice to glass.

:)
 
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