Robert Frost: A Lover's Quarrel with the World (1963) Movie Script

[Birds Chirping]
[ Frost ]
A career like mine, you know...
could end, as someone might
say mockingly...
What began in felicity
and the privacy and secrecy...
and furtiveness of your poetry...
is ending in a burst of publicity.
We won't talk about that too much.
[ Man Narrating]
Robert Lee Frost...
named for Robert E. Lee.
1874 to 1963.
San Francisco to Boston.
Recognition as a poet
didn't come until 1913 in London.
In 1938, he feared he was finished.
He said that courage
is the virtue that counts most.
[ Man ] What about the courage
it takes to live to be 88?
That's- The less said
about that the better.
[All Laughing]
You don't Want to scare me.
[All Laughing]
- Ah, there.
-[ Man] ls it courage or luck?
No, something-
It's being sick when you're young.
- [ All Laughing]
- That's it.
See, I had bad health
when I was young.
- So I- this is just sheer evening it up.
- [All Chuckling ]
Living on. Have a better-
Ive heard that said before.
Somebody else was like that,
delicate when he was young...
rugged when he was old.
God evened it up to him.
[ Narrator]
Out of 40 years of obscurity...
he found his own voice.
[ Frost Reciting ]
A voice said, Look me in the stars...
and tell me truly men of earth...
if all the soul-and-body scars...
were not too much to pay for birth.
[ Narrator]
He pursued an art...
most men scorned
as impractical if not feminine.
I tell ya, every time I catch a man
red-handed, reading my book...
- a man, see.
- Yeah, yeah.
He'll- He looks up
and says brightly...
My wife's a great fan of yours.
- [ Both Chuckling]
- Every time!
[ Narrator]
He lived to win.
It will be some time
before anyone sums him up.
But in 1941 he wrote
his own epitaph:
[No Audible Dialogue]
I had a lover's quarrel with the World.
That's me.
I thought of modifying that...
to say I had my lovers quarrels,
plural, with the World.
But I make that one sustained
quarrel all my life. [Chuckles]
[ Man Chuckles]
Lover's quarrel- ifs a long
sustained quarrel.
The artist, however faithful
to his personal vision of reality...
becomes the lost champion...
of the individual mind and sensibility...
against an intrusive society
and an officious state.
The great artist
is thus a solitary figure.
He has, as Frost said,
a lovers quarrel with the world.
In pursuing his
perceptions of reality...
he must often sail against
the currents of his time.
This is not a popular role.
If Robert Frost was much honored
during his lifetime...
it was because a good many
preferred to ignore his darker truths.
I think we're proud of Mr. Frost...
and his interpretations of What
we feel is the best of America.
And therefore...
I present this award...
to our very good friend...
- Picture of him too.
- And ifs a picture of you and ifs a-
Thank you.
Would you say a word here?
Of course this is- this is sort of
the height of my life, you know...
and on a wave of poetry, isn't it'?
And- And I've-
That ought to be enough to say.
[ Kennedy ]
I knew Mr. Frost quite late in his life.
Really the last four or five years.
And I was impressed
by a good many qualities...
but also by his toughness.
He was not particularly belligerent
in his relations, his human relations.
But he felt very strongly
that the Unites States...
should be country of power,
of force...
to use that power and force Wisely.
But he once said to me
not to let the Harvard in me...
- get to be too important.
- [ Listeners Laugh ]
So we've- we've followed that advice.
You never know What I'll do next.
It's time I stopped, you know.
'Tis time this-
should I be quieted down.
[ Narrator]
But he wasn't about to stop.
Boston to San Francisco
and back again.
He told a fellow poet...
Hell is a half-filled auditorium.
The city boy
who failed as a farmer...
was on the road.
I faced a young man
and his Wife in the train...
not so- lately.
And I kinda liked him.
I said to him...
What do you do?
Just as you got to the point of sayin'
What do you do?
And he looked toward his Wife
for permission...
and he said, As a matter of fact,
Im an exterminator.
- [ Man Laughs]
- I said, Just the man Im lookin' for.
Can anything be exterminated?
And he says, Nothing.
He took the same attitude,
spread his arms, oratorical.
He said,
Nothing can be exterminated.
Bedbugs, lice,
cockroaches or people.
I said, My next lecture.
[Chattering ]
[ Frost ]
This public life Ive got into is-
is more or less an accident.
I never set out to do it.
I got $50 for doing it once, first.
And I got called out into it,
and I needed the living.
I nearly died doin' it,
but I conquered it, sort of.
But still there are reserves...
- things I don't Wear on my sleeve.
- [Audience Applauding]
[Applause Ends]
Uh, ifs very nice to be back with you.
I feel as if I had a new president.
[All Laughing]
[ Narrator] Acknowledging
the introduction of his host...
the new president
of Sarah Lawrence College...
Mr. Frost is reminded of his old friend
and contemporary Vachel Lindsay.
I- I was as happy about Vachel...
as we jealous poets, artists,
can be, you know.
- [ Audience Laughs ]
- We-
He was one I could be happy about.
Some I- Some Im afraid
I am too jealous of.
- But I really don't like 'em.
- [Audience Laughing]
I strive to get over
dislike and all that...
but it doesn't come out very well.
And Im always glad when one
I don't like, very honestly...
that Ive tried to like-
when he gets mad at me,
so I don't have to read him anymore.
- [Audience Laughs Loudly]
- Don't have to strive with him.
It's a funny World.
But Vachel was one of these
very disarming people...
very good boy...
and one of the real kind of...
genius, you can call it.
Call it- You could say there was
a little strangeness about him.
He was a little touched.
But you could call it divinely touched.
He had something very fine
about him, lofty...
and he did some very crazy things.
He knew how
to do 'em Without trying.
- [ Audience Laughs]
- He'd end up- There was- He was-
Some of these poets seemed to me
to get in a corner...
and gnaw their fingernails
and try to get a dark corner...
- and try to go crazy so they'd qualify.
- [Audience Laughs]
And there's none of that in Vachel.
He was crazy in his own right.
[ Frost Mutters ]
Some of the strangest things.
I ought to tell ya What you're
seeing here on this sideshow.
[Audience Laughs]
This is a documentary film going on.
And this- they've been in-
two or three of 'em,
for government purpose.
And they-
They've all been about me...
with a hoe, digging potatoes,
or walking in the Woods...
- reciting my own poems, which I-
- [Audience Laughs Loudly]
Something I don't-
I don't farm very much
for a good many years.
A little- I have a little garden.
But it's a false picture
that represents me...
as always digging potatoes
or sayin' my own poems in the woods.
This time we're gonna have it right,
we're gonna have occasions...
like this Where Im with my crowd.
We're gonna have the crowd in it
and some other things.
They were with me
today on shipboard...
on the Essex,
the old carrier, you know.
I had eight grandchildren with me.
I mean great grandchildren.
Eight great grandchildren,
two families.
All between- I guess, between
nine and 10 and 12...
all, the whole bunch of 'em.
Maybe 10, 13, 14, one of them.
And I was with the commander.
And the old subject came up
of peace and war.
That's that category.
And I had to have another think at it.
That always means another say to it.
And I said to him,
Peace is something...
that you only get by war
or the threat of war...
however tacit the threat.
And he nodded grimly.
And that's something that
we all Want, the peace.
And we are all thinking about it.
Anything like that that bothers me
all the time or something comes up...
and I say a new one to it.
It appeases me for the moment.
But I'd had a fresh think.
The occasion-
The occasion had given me
a fresh think.
And there's usually an occasion.
I don't know- meeting somebody
or reading somethin' in the paper...
hearing something about the World.
It's all just- just this one thing:
A think.
And the excitement
you get out of havin' a think...
that you Want to pass to other people.
And sometimes, as I say,
when it's too much for me...
and I can't say anything to it,
I say, Me for the woods.
- [Audience Laughs]
- That's one of my oldest sayings.
Doesnt matter What it is,
family troubles...
any kind, I say,
Me for the woods.
[ Birds Tweeting ]
This is a regular spring thing...
to get here and see
what's lived through the Winter.
It took a long time to be a Vermonter.
I came here in '20.
See how many years ago that is.
And for years
I wasn't called a Vermonter.
They'd have meetings and things
about poetry...
but they considered me an outsider.
Then this last year they made me
Poet of Vermont.
[ Man Reciting]
Oh, the little town of Ripton...
up near the mountaintop,
Where city folks come and go...
and for a short time stop...
to view the mountain scenery
and breathe the mountain air...
and wonder at us simple folks
who get our living there.
It is Robert Frost the poet
that put Ripton on the map.
While others we are proud to know,
he is our leading champ.
For others our esteem may grow.
None shall go above him.
For he loves man and nature so,
that is why we love him.
[Man ] Built that lawn for him.
I put that lawn in.
And though there's
a number of things...
that he can think of-
[ Laughs ]
He's a nice man. Nice man.
-[ Man] Do you like his poetry'?
- Yes, I like it very well.
It, uh- I think he's one
of the most famous in Vermont.
[ Woman ]
I think perhaps with Sandburg...
he's one of the truly great
American poets that we have.
At any rate, in my opinion.
Perhaps in Mr. Kennedy's.
[ Man ]
What is your favorite Frost poem?
I think I like Birches.
[ Chuckles ]
[ Man ] Which of Robert Frost's
poems is your favorite?
- Who?
- Robert Frost.
- [Water Running]
- Funny world, isn't it?
[ Frost ] Where you came from
is of very great importance.
Your family ways.
I was brought up
and started life in San Francisco.
My father was Chairman
of the Democratic City Committee...
when Cleveland was elected.
I never Went to school
till I was about 12 years old.
And I wasn't very well. And I Went
downtown with my father all the time.
I had all of my of my noon meals
in the big headquarters...
of the democratic party, the saloon,
Abe Levy's saloon...
and I was a sort of...
a political kid around.
L- I came East.
My mother would leave us at
Omaha, then Chicago...
to recheck my father's coffin
with me and my sister.
I was 12 years old.
And I carried other people around
that couldn't stand up...
when they were so grieved.
So there, I guess
that's how I brought life.
[ Growling, Barking ]
[ Dog Barks, Growls ]
[Frost Continues ] And I did
everything I had to do to get by.
Money, a little bit, you know,
working at this and that.
I worked on newspapers a little.
I didn't do very well.
I wasn't a very good reporter.
I was too shy.
I gravitated to the editorial page.
[ Chuckles ]
And we had a farm...
Where I could partly earn a living.
Didn't do it very well.
And I never was away from the farm
in the evening.
More than three years I think it was,
probably it was.
I think once I came home
as late as 8:00.
We never Went to church.
We never Went to movies.
Never Went to anything.
And there was nothing
we were missing.
We were having a very nice time.
A nice little farm.
And children.
They had orchards and fruit...
and horse and cow and all that.
I only left it, drifted away from it...
for part-time teaching because
I wasn't quite earning a living.
And I think it came natural to do it.
My mother was a teacher...
and I drifted into it
for bread and butter...
and began teaching at a little
district school and things.
District school with 12 children.
I remember I had one that would
come and go in barefooted.
Come and go into my knee.
I never got called a poet
till I was 40 or so.
And I always thought it was a praise
word that I couldn't use on myself.
It's a praise word.
You can write poetry, and I wrote it.
I don't know howl did it
and What would have happened...
if it hadn't come through
somewhere in the end.
My complete works are with me here.
Two books. A little new book
and a little old book.
And I think it adds up to about
maybe 700 pages in 70 years.
Ten pages a year, see.
Not many but still at it,
always about the same a year.
I don't calculate on it, but it turns
out to be about that much a year.
Probably twice that
I have thrown away.
And people ask
What poem you like best.
The poem I like best is one
somebodys just praised...
or the one Ive just written.
[ Frost Chuckles]
Or else I say you can't-
you don't like to tell
about your poems...
anymore than a mother does
about her children.
When she has five or six children...
she wouldn't tell you
which is her favorite.
She might have one...
Maybe- She shouldnt.
She knows she shouldnt.
- [Audience Laughs]
- [ Frost Chuckles, Mutters]
I said to an audience the other day...
l-low many of you don't know...
'Stopping By Woods?
There was only one person
in 2,000 or 3,000 people...
- raised his hand... shamelessly.
- [Audience Laughs Loudly]
And then I- And a lady
had just asked me to say it.
I said, What in the world
do you Want me to say it for...
when you all know it better than I do?
You know? But I said it.
Just out of lenience.
Well, now Im gonna read to ya.
Now I out walking
the world desert...
and my shoe and my stocking
do me no hurt.
See Ive got to keep that little
rhyming Way all the Way through it.
- [Audience Laughs]
- See hurt, desert.
Stocking, Walking.
Somewhere in there.
[Audience Laughs]
Now I out walking
the world desert...
and my shoe and my stocking
do me no hurt.
I leave behind
good friends in town.
Let them get well-wined
and go lie down.
Don't think I leave
for the outer dark...
Like Adam and Eve
put out of the Park.
Forget the myth.
There is no one I
am put outwith...
or put out by.
Unless Im Wrong
I but obey...
the urge of a song:
Im bound away!
You know that song.
And I may return
if dissatisfied...
with What I learn
from having died.
I didn't know it was going
to be a death poem.
[Audience Laughs]
But you see, What I Want you
to like is a double thing, isn't it?
L like the little tight form
and everything.
Then Im gonna say to you,
not as significant a poem as that.
The last one I wrote.
I sent it right in,
fresh like that Without a title.
I couldn't think
of What to call it, see.
In Winter, in the woods alone...
against the trees I go.
I mark a maple for my own
and lay the maple low.
At four o'clock I shoulder axe
and in the afterglow...
I link a line of shadowy tracks
across the tinted snow.
For winter-
For nature-
For nature I see no defeat
in one tree's overthrow...
or for myself in my retreat
for yet another blow.
That was a threat. I was writing-
I was gonna write another book.
[Audience Laughs]
I didn't think of that when I wrote it,
but I saw that afterwards...
the same as the critics do.
They always see meanings
I didn't see when I wrote the book.
But I put that in.
Shall I say that twice to you?
'Cause I like to have written it?
It feels so fresh to me.
In Winter, in the woods alone...
against the trees I go.
I mark a maple for my own
and lay the maple low.
At four o'clock I- I shoulder axe
and in the afterglow...
I link a line of shadowy tracks
across the tinted snow.
I see for nature no defeat
in one tree's overthrow...
or for myself in my retreat
for yet another blow.
Ive brought with me tonight-
Uh, Mrs. Morrison
has brought with me...
20 or 30 copies of it to give-
She's gonna give you each one
to carry away...
in my handwriting.
I wrote it- wrote it this morning.
I never know Where I'll write
or What I'll Write.
L- I remember once in Wilkes-Barre...
Where I never was but once in my life.
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania...
stuck there, changing trains-
something- I had to go a hotel.
And I wrote one of my best poems
right there in that hotel...
- standing on my head.
- [Students Laugh ]
There's a curious state of-
comes over you, that's all.
But some people like to think
it starts with a phrase or something.
I think it starts with a mood.
As Poe sari somewhere, you know-
He never-
He wrote lots of prose.
And he had a hard life
and died at 40, the poor boy.
But he said he never
touched the poetry...
except when, you know,
with something- sacred touch.
And that's a strong word for it...
but that feeling that you
never do it unless you-
Never do it to pay a bill...
- 'cause you probably won't.
- [Audience Laughs]
And yet it comes to market
in the long run, you know.
You can't write it that Way.
If I ever thought
when I was writing anything...
that this would settle, you know-
pay the gas bill or somethin' like that.
I couldn't write it.
But I do think in the middle of it...
the only self-conscious thought
I ever have is:
This seems to be going pretty good.
- [Audience Laughs]
- Good luck. Another step, you know.
Still going.
[ Chuckles ]
Just like skating on thin ice, you know,
Where you might go through...
and fail, but ifs still going.
Once Im going, I either-
I go the same as the-
It goes-
I think ifs like startin' the sled
at the top of the hill...
where they've worn
the snow through too much...
and it goes hard to start...
but you get right over that gritty place
and a-go she goes.
- [Students Chuckle]
- Get right on and ride.
One of the best ones I ever wrote,
isn't it'?
Yeah, ifs a good poem.
I had little bit of trouble
with the last stanza...
to get that the Way I wanted.
But the first two were just slip-
slicky as grease.
That's one of the happy accidents,
you can call it.
You know, that's What you
go into a poem for.
See that alone and that own
and that go and that low.
And I kept glow and snow
and overthrow and blow...
all the Way through it-
it's quite a feat.
[ Man ] You don't
make anything of the fact...
that retreat rhymes
with defeat then?
- Oh, no. [Chuckles]
- [ Man Chuckles]
[ Frost Continues Chuckling ]
I value that honor.
That you cant really suspect me
of just putting retreat there...
- because of the rhyme.
- [ Man Chuckles]
Can ya?
- Well, ifs a hard question.
- [Student Laughs]
[Frost ] Yeah. Well,
that's the Way it ought to be.
We- We retreat.
We don't escape.
That's a word I loathe- escape.
Retreat is sort of
a characteristic word.
It means that you retreat for strength.
Church touches that, you know.
They don't brought up
in the right religion...
if they don't know
What retreat is.
You don't escape.
You withdraw with God...
with sleep.
Uh, I often see it
transported to a spot...
and there in the woods
at the edge of it.
I was there with the ax
and the tree and everything.
And I made it just like that...
with the Whole-
trying to get the whole feel.
You know, satisfying myself.
I'd like to be there, see.
[ Frost ]
Im there.
It's been some years
since Ive held a tree.
But ifs a pleasure to meet.
You know, Ive often said
that every poem...
solves something for me in life.
I go so far as to say...
that every poem...
is a momentary stay against...
the confusion of the World.
But of course,
any psychiatrist will tell you...
that so is making a basket
or making a horseshoe or-
Giving anything form gives you
a confidence in the universe.
That it has form, see?
When you talk about your troubles
and go to somebody about them...
you're just a fool, you know?
The best Way to settle them
is to make something that has form...
'cause all you Want to do
is get a sense of form.
[ Chuckles ]
All that makes you
healthy and well...
is a feeling that there is
some sort of form...
to your business, your occupation.
Everybody that starts anything
just starts as a village idiot of course.
[Audience Laughing]
And maybe that's What
all the poets ought to be.
You see them Wondering about that.
How- How wild
you have to go to be...
beyond the rational, you know,
beyond the orderly.
I often think of it...
Where the thought comes in,
the force comes in.
The wild force.
My friendship lately, in Washington,
has been very strange to me.
That's blundered into-
And Im very much...
uh, in the affairs of
the Secretary of the Interior.
That doesn't mean psychology.
[Audience Laughs]
The real- The real interior.
And his beautiful obsession...
is almost the same as mine.
Mr. Udall is around everywhere
declaring wildernesses.
It's he and Daniel Boone
and Thoreau and me.
All for the wilderness.
Another poet had that wish,
you know.
He says...
O for a lodge
in some vast wilderness.
An 18th-century poet said...
O for a lodge
in some vast wilderness...
some mighty contiguity of shade.
That's some 18th-century stuff.
[Audience Laughs]
A mighty contiguity of shade.
That's fun, isn't it? ls that right?
Uh, you know, we talked that
they're going to change-
to change swords into plowshares
and all that.
To change weapons into tools.
This one is called, The Objection
to Being Stepped On.
This is a recent one too.
The Objection
to Being Stepped On.
At the encl of the row,
I stepped on the toe...
of an unemployed hoe.
It rose in offense
and struck me a blow...
- in the seat of my sense.
- [Audience Laughs]
It wasn't to blame,
but I called it a name.
And I must say it dealt
me a blow that I felt...
like a malice prepense.
You may call me a fool,
but was there a rule...
the weapon should be
turned into a tool?
But What do we see?
The first tool I step on
turned into a weapon.
[Audience Laughing, Applauding]
And in the vein of that...
two or three of my favorite things,
I suppose...
are the scythe, hay fork,
and the fountain pen.
Baseball bat and so on.
But two of them are just like that.
That scythe- I was good with it.
Mowing, hand mowing.
I wish I had a chance to show ya.
- See?
- [Audience Laughs]
For I knew a man
who could take a scythe-
a long, slender scythe, you know-
and take a lawn and out it
just the same as a lawn mower.
Lovely motions.
Lovely, sweet, beautiful mowing.
Lovely time of day and all that.
I knew people
who have spent their lives...
making a fair field,
burying great big boulders.
See those?
That one rolled clear over into this-
Well, those that were probably
pushed out of this field-
You can't be sure out of that.
I took a lot out up there too.
Some of the places here-
There. Some of those
sharp ones were dynamited.
Ones that are broken in too.
[ Man ]
You mean, when you cleared?
[ Frost ]
Oh, I never used dynamite.
I have made this a fair field.
It was never anything
till I got these out.
[ Indistinct]
I Wanted something to do.
And then this cruel one.
Lets vary it a little bit.
This is an old one too.
It's been around almost as
my Stopping By Woods.
It's called, Provide, Provide.
Like that. Terrible.
[Audience Laughs]
The Witch that came,
the withered hag...
to Wash the steps with pail and rag...
was once the beauty Abishag.
The picture pride of Hollywood.
Too many fall from great and good
for you to doubt the likelihood.
Die early and avoid the fate.
Or if predestined to die late,
make up your mind to die in state.
Make the whole
stock exchange your own.
If need be occupy a throne,
Where nobody can call you crone.
This is long before Monaco.
[Audience Laughs]
Make the whole
stock exchange your own.
If need be occupy a throne,
Where nobody can call you crone.
Some have relied on What they knew...
others on being simply true.
What worked for them
might work for you.
No memory of having starred
makes up for later disregard...
or keeps the end from being hard.
Better to go down dignified with
boughten friendship at your side...
than none at all.
Provide, provide.
I read that here before,
and Ive told What happened once.
This was in the old times,
down Washington.
In front of me
was a very important man.
Not quite the most important,
but very important.
And he was right down in front.
So, I stopped by and said...
Better to go down dignified with
boughten friendship at your side...
than none at all.
Provide, provide.
Or somebody else
will provide for ya.
[Audience Laughing]
And- And I saw his Wife
was beside him.
She smiled. He didn't.
He looked pretty grave.
- [Audience Laughs]
- Then I had to make it even Worse.
I Went on. You see,
I love to say that tone and say...
Or somebody else
will provide for ya.
And then, And how will you like that?
[Audience Laughs]
That's why I am...
What I am.
Then, you like to be in-
Now that's a terrible, great poem.
That's one of my most political
of all my poems.
I was born a Democrat,
and I stayed a Democrat.
But, oh, my!
Ive been pretty uneasy since 1896.
[Audience Laughs]
[ Mutters, Chuckles]
I said to the president-
- I admire you so much...
- [ No Audible Dialogue]
That I wish I was
a better Democrat than I am.
- [Audience Laughs]
- Im a Democrat.
That does not-
That doesn't matter.
[ Chuckles ]
A lady said to me, You've been
saying all sorts of things tonight.
Which are you:
conservative or radical?
[Audience Laughs]
And I said, I never dared-
It's my one free verse poem
that kept her going.
I put it in my book,
I liked it so well.
See, I reached one of those points.
I speak of a new thing.
I said, I never dared
be radical when young...
for fear it would make me
conservative when old.
[Audience Laughs]
And she-
She Went, you know,
kind of confused.
[Audience Laughs]
She didn't know Where that left-
I left her hanging up.
That was out in California.
I left her hanging there.
She's hanging there still probably.
[Audience Laughs]
Im not a reformed Democrat
or a reformed Republican...
or a reformed Communist or anything.
Im just-just as I always was.
But I can live with almost anything.
So much that I, sometimes-
I have been...
so indiscreet as to say...
lucky I have never been investigated,
you know?
About- for- the people I have known.
[ Man Chuckles]
I told 'em-
Ive always escaped that.
I don't like to betray anybody.
Did Ezra Pound make a mistake...
by taking a definite political stand
and engaging in politics?
No, no.
If he Wanted to perish
that way, you know-
[ Laughs 1
Of course Pound is a sad case.
It's been very hard on him, you know?
Very hard oh his health.
A sick, old man how.
And I feel cross with him.
And yet I met him.
First time he said,
I hear you have a book coming out.
And I said, Yes.
And he said, Isn't it out?
And I said, I don't know.
I wouldn't dare to ask the publisher.
[ Laughs 1
And he said, Let's go over
and see if we can get one.
He got one, put it in his pocket,
and we came away.
Then we Went back to his room.
SO I- I had this-
this feeling you won't have-
I was a little glad
that it was out or something.
Very glad.
I suppose I walked on air,
as they say.
I was too old-
I was too old to be too excited.
Then Pound-
Pound was a novelty to me.
I didn't know
What kind of a creature he was.
And he, 10 years younger than I-
but he said...
Find something to read
in the bookcase, you know.
And I found something to read.
He was behind me reading my book.
- I hadn't touched it.
- [ Chuckles ]
He said,
You don't mind our liking this?
- I said, No, go ahead and like it.
- [Students Laugh ]
That's the Way a career began.
He seemed to like it.
Then presently he said,
You better run along home.
Im going to review this book.
Just like that.
And I ran along home.
But Where he made the mistake was...
he made so sure that
Mussolini was invincible.
And Ezra felt that Way.
He bet oh the Wrong horse.
Still, What he did is a brave-
Pound- He's a kind of a terror.
[ Chuckles ]
The world has got that...
kind of person too.
We didn't get credit enough
for not killing him.
[ Man Chuckles]
People blamed us...
because we imprisoned him,
you know...
when we should have killed him...
for treason.
That was all it was.
Just plain treason, that's all.
There's a lot- There's been some
very great treason in the World.
George Washington
and Thomas Jefferson.
- All of 'em.
- [Students Laugh ]
If this be treason,
make the most of it.
Patriotism is just the same.
How are you going to take
your patriotism?
I said the other day to somebody...
I was so cross with a lot of irritability
in the world about the United States...
that I wish they'd just all
shut up and start singing...
Uh, America the Beautiful.
[ Man Chuckles]
For Katherine Lee Bates-
I knew the old lady that wrote that.
It's a very lovely kind of patriotism.
It's not offensive.
There's more to it than all that.
But you're so tired of picking flaws...
and talking against the greatest
country that has ever existed so far.
And if we don't know
how good it is, see?
If we don't know how good it is-
Do we?
If we don't know how good it is-
I keep saying that.
The Russians know how good we are.
Everything the Russians say,
they say in our direction.
That some of the new critics
have found that I am a terror.
The things that I have been
all reading you- terrific, terrible.
[ Muttering ]
[Audience Laughs]
Listen- Listen to this,
I was saying as I came over...
I'd tell a funny case of it.
There is a little poem of mine,
an old one, goes like this-
The Way a crow
shook down on me.
The dust of snow
from a hemlock tree.
Has given my heart
a change of mood...
and saved some part
of a day I had rued.
See now, just look at that.
Fair and square.
The Way a crow shook down on me.
The dust of snow from a hemlock tree.
Has given my heart
a change of mood...
and saved some part
of a day I had rued.
And someone says to me,
Very sinister poem.
[Audience Laughing Loudly,
Applauding ]
And I said, Sinister?
You know.
He said, Yes. The crow.
The crow is a black bird.
I said- And I said...
The crow appears
all sorts of ways, but all right.
I don't argue.
And then he said-
And I said, What more?
He said, The hemlock tree.
And I said, Yeah?
- [Audience Laughs]
- [ indistinct]
And he said, What, Socrates?
Socrates, you know.
Death of Socrates.
[ Mutters ]
You get surprises in this world
I never thought of.
I live with hemlock trees...
and its not the way
that Socrates drank at all, you know?
And ifs all around us, the tree.
Im partly just as much city
as I am country.
But I am a little more country than city.
And I know What a hemlock tree is.
[Audience Laughs]
[ Frost Reciting ] It takes all sorts
of in- and outdoor schooling...
to get adapted to my kind of fooling.
Sometimes I feel very brazen.
Then sometimes Im scared.
I don't know why.
I think ifs because of some lack
of some sustaining positiveness...
that I Want to do something to people.
If I don't have that wish
to do somethin' to 'em...
I feel sort of scared.
I always felt that with a class too.
Not tell 'em somethin',
but do somethin' to 'em.
Do somethin' to 'em.
Then I was good.
One of my favorite ways
was to scare 'em...
about What it was to have
What I really call...
an idea.
To say What Ring Lardner
calls a bucketful.
[ Chuckles ]
Say something that is something,
you know?
They write these perfunctory papers
that don't have anything in 'em.
Not one crack to the carload.
Some people seem to think that
if they pile up enough knowledge-
it's like piling up oily rags
in the basement-
that they'll burst into flame
of themselves.
Light the world up.
They say being in school, you know-
Here we're going to dump
a lot of material on you now...
back up this load to you.
And then they say,
ifs coming! Assimilate it!
[ Chuckles ]
And you die under it.
[Wheelbarrow Squeaking ]
They accumulated.
I pity the car I see
going up the street...
taking my swill away
to the clumps somewhere.
[ Chuckling ]
[ Frost Reciting ] Forgive, O Lord,
my little jokes on Thee.
And I'll forgive Thy great,
big one on me.
What's Gods great, big joke on me?
I'd rather not say.
And, uh, the biggest joke of all is...
that Im not saying.
Sometimes I think Im just a joke.
But slowly not caring too much
about that either.
The gamble of life takes bravery,
doesn't it?
They tell about
one soldier beside another...
charging up Marye's Heights
at Fredericksburg...
said to him, You're scared.
And the other fellow said, Yes.
If you were as scared as I am,
you'd run away.
But you got to be brave,
and you got to be bold.
Be brave enough to take your chance
on your own discriminations.
What's right and what's wrong.
What's good and what's bad.
I suppose the most
terrifying thing of all...
would be unjustly shot against-
against the wall.
Whether your legs
would fail you and all that.
You wonder What your courage is.
Now you wonder about everything.
Always Wondering.
See, the fear of God is just that.
The Old Testament says,
more than once, I think...
May my gift, my sacrifice,
be acceptable in Thy sight.
Fear- You got to have that fear...
of some ultimate judgment
beyond the crowd, beyond me.
When you die in battle,
that's What you have to say...
May my life be acceptable
in Thy sight.
May my sacrifice be acceptable
in Thy sight.
That's What you mean by
the fear of God.
[ Frost ]
However you work at it.
No matter What you do-
your work, your poetry, your life-
that you bet on,
succeed or fail...
may it be an acceptable
sacrifice on that altar.
Now, I guess Ive about
taken your time.
Im Warned against wearing you out.
[Audience Laughs]
Yeah. I say good night to ya.
[Audience Applauding]
Could you, please, stay-
If you stay standing, I'll say one
little more poem to you. Shall I?
For the last one,
let's make it sweet and sad.
You don't Want to misunderstand me,
but let me see how this goes.
This one I wrote young.
The heart is still aching to seek...
but the feet question, 'Whither?'
Now this is for the farewell.
Ah, when to the heart of man...
was it ever less than a treason...
to go with the drift of things...
to yield with a grace to reason...
and bow and accept the end...
of a love or a season?
And so we had another kind of time
from just digging potatoes.
[Audience Laughs]
And I say good night to you.
Good night.
[Audience Applauding]
[Applause Fades]