NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

December 24, 2013

A thousand Christmas trees

Poet Robert Frost has a special place in the hearts of New Englanders, especially those who live in this region. He grew up in Lawrence after his father died and graduated from Lawrence High and later lived in Methuen and briefly taught school there. He moved to a small farm in Derry after marrying and taught at Pinkerton Academy for six years.

Frost often wrote about rural New England. In his poem “Christmas Trees: A Christmas Circular Letter,” written in 1920, Frost describes an encounter between a country resident and city dweller, and the significance of one man’s trees.

In honor of the season, we offer Frost’s poem to you in place of our usual editorial.

The city had withdrawn into itself

And left at last the country to the country;

When between whirls of snow not come to lie

And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove

A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,

Yet did in country fashion in that there

He sat and waited till he drew us out

A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.

He proved to be the city come again

To look for something it had left behind

And could not do without and keep its Christmas.

He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;

My woods — the young fir balsams like a place

Where houses all are churches and have spires.

I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.

I doubt if I was tempted for a moment

To sell them off their feet to go in cars

And leave the slope behind the house all bare,

Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.

I’d hate to have them know it if I was.

Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except

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