Thursday, March 9, 2023

There Are Roughly Zones (#poem)


There Are Roughly Zones

We sit indoors and talk of the cold outside.
And every gust that gathers strength and heaves
Is a threat to the house. But the house has long been tried.
We think of the tree. If it never again has leaves,
We'll know, we say, that this is the day it died.
It is very far north, we admit, to have brought the peach.
What comes over a man, is it soul or mind--
That to no limits he can stay confined?
You would say his ambition was to extend the reach
Clear to the Arctic of every living kind.
Why is his nature forever so hard to teach
That though there is no fixed line between wrong and right,
There are roughly zones whose laws must be obeyed?
There is nothing much we can do for the tree tonight,
But we can't help feeling more than a little betrayed
That the northwest wind should rise to such a height
Just when the cold went down so many below.
The tree has no leaves and may never have them again.
We must wait till some months hence in the spring to know.
But if it destined never again to grow,
It can blame this limitless trait in the hearts of men.

-Robert Frost

This first appeared in Robert Frost's book of 1936, A Further Range. The book also includes 'Two Tramps in Mud Time' and 'Neither Out Far Nor In Deep'.

That's the cedar that was bent over to the ground on Saturday. Though not as upright as it was a week ago, I think it's likely to make it. (Yay!) The poem doesn't fit our story so well: it's needles, not leaves; this is still well within a cedar's natural range; and it's only weeks to spring, not months. But it was enough to make think of the poem... 😉


  1. I love Robert Frost, but this is one of his poems I haven't read before. Thanks for sharing! :D