Oct 12, 2022 • 1M

The Oven-Bird

Robert Frost (Audio)

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There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.

Frost’s poem, the Oven-Bird, is an odd sort of sonnet, for an odd sort of bird — and for a message which isn’t odd, though it’s sad and we don’t always want to hear it. This bird doesn’t sing, says Frost. “He says,” “he says,” “he says,” because “he knows in singing not to sing.” I said that this is a sonnet, because there are fourteen lines in it, and they are all iambic pentameter, and they rhyme, but other tha…

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