Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FROST, by GRACE ATHERTON DENNEN

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE FROST, by            
First Line: The dawn - cold, pallid, half afraid, it seems
Last Line: Shall we go in? For the new day is here.
Subject(s): Farm Life; Man-woman Relationships; Agriculture; Farmers; Male-female Relations

The dawn -- cold, pallid, half afraid, it seems.
Within the house she moves about her tasks,
Making the fire burn for the morning meal.
I stand outside like one who fears to enter.
She's singing -- I can hear the happy notes --
She has been mute for many months, I think,
And now she sings. O God, delay the dawn,
She sings again tonight after long months!

How the wan sickly light of these gray skies
Reveals each makeshift of our cottage home
As if in scorn. I brought her here to this,
Plucked her with rude hands as one plucks a blossom
Out of a sheltered garden.
There was to be a new house long ago,
We planned it in those first days of our love.
But each new year, rising with newer hope,
Saw some strange, stern experience forced upon us;
First came the flood,
And countless tons of devastating rock
Crashed down the mountain slopes and carried
My newly planted crops. When with fresh hope
And infinite labor I had cleared the land anew,
Then came the drought.
Each glad green blade became a blackened thing,
Scorched in the burning furrow where it grew.
Tempest and drought -- that was enough, you'd think,

Indeed, it seemed as though the fate that teased us
Had wearied or grown kind. There came the spring
So warm, so genial, such a fall of rain
That all my acres plucked up heart again
And smiled in the sun's good face -- the vines hung full,
The orchard laughed with promise.
Then in the vibrant gladness of those days
She came to me, and whispered me her secret;
'Twas time to build our home, for one would come
To share it with us by another spring.
And so she sings tonight.

There breaks the dawn -- and she is at the door,
Has heard my step -- now must I tell her all:
Soul of my soul, the frost has done its work.
Your sob -- and each sob is a sharpened knife
To tear my heart. Creep close within my arms,
And let us talk this over quietly,
With understanding that shall bring us peace.
The man who plants his acres in full faith
Has God for partner. Nothing is more near
To the Eternal Heart than that a man
Should help the barren earth to flower and fruit --
And fill the world with plenty. Such a man
Becomes High Priest to all the growing plants,
For this the summer skies, the winter storms,
Rainbows and friendly stars have said to me.
I find Him here in every springing blade --
I hear Him speak -- But in the city streets
There are so many voices, can a man
Be sure of what he hears? I must be sure.

What, then, if such eternal partnership
Requires eternal patience? All the forces
That work with God are patient -- love, pity,
Remorse for wrong and fuller understanding.
And when the child shall come, he'll find his home
Within the loving shelter of our hearts.
You smile -- there's hope -- there's courage both at once.
So we take up our gracious task again.
Shall we go in? For the new day is here.

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