I had for my winter evening walk –
No one at all with whom to talk,
But I had the cottages in a row
Up to their shining eyes in snow.
If you go up to the second floor of the Boston Athenaeum, and walk all the way to the far end of the room, you will reach a door.
(You can see it right behind the statue in the center of this photo: Nathaniel Bowditch, the 18th-century navigator and astronomer.)
That door is the entrance to the Drum: Many levels of bookstacks that are shaped by the curved end of the building.
And if you climb up and down those stacks, you might even come across this book.
The first stanza of the first poem in the book begins this blogpost.
Here is the first line of the second poem:
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall
As I reread that line the other day, I thought of these images from my recent walks in the New England countryside.
At Moose Hill in Sharon, Massachusetts.
At Broadmoor in Natick (an old Indian name).
And at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln.
When I saw those stones on my walks, I thought of Frost’s line from Mending Wall.
The repairing of the wall with a reluctant neighbor that the speaker describes in the poem is now a thing of the distant past.
Nature has won, and has reclaimed the stones.
Robert Frost is the premier poet of the New England landscape.
Like Thoreau before him, he was a tremendous hiker.
So for me, as I try to rediscover the land of my origin, his words will be especially important.
I have outwalked the furthest city light
Dickinson, Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne and Henry James: These writers have given me much pleasure and food for thought as I have returned to Boston.
But I think it is Frost who will unlock the key to home.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep
The words of the poet remind us that we always see the patterns of human endeavor, however faded, that dot the landscape.
Just as the poet brings a kind of order to what looks like a chaotic world.
The library and the landscape are really not very different places.
If you have a good poet to guide you.
I took the one less traveled by