Monday, August 7, 2006


Last night, I came across the following, concluding lines in Robert Frost's poem "Two Tramps in the Mud." The setting is the poet toiling vigorously at splitting wood, only to be interrupted by two unemployed laborers who happen by and who want to cut the wood for him for money. The poet knows he is "supposed" to yield the axe to the laborers, he being trained for poetry and they being accustomed to such labor. He thinks it is quite appropriate, nonetheless, for the poet also to wield an axe as an expression of uniting vocation to avocation, "where love and need are one" and the deed is done "for heaven and the future's sake." Here is Frost:

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sake.

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