Robert Frost

Good-Bye, And Keep Cold

This saying good-bye on the edge of the dark And cold to an orchard so young in the bark Reminds me of all that can happen to harm An orchard away at the end of the farm All winter, cut off by a hill from the house. I don’t want it girdled by rabbit and mouse, I don’t want it dreamily nibbled for browse By deer, and I don’t want it budded by grouse. (If certain it wouldn’t be idle to call I’d summon grouse, rabbit, and deer to the wall And warn them away with a stick for a gun.) I don’t want it stirred by the heat of the sun. (We made it secure against being, I hope, By setting it out on a northerly slope.) No orchard’s the worse for the wintriest storm; But one thing about it, it mustn’t get warm. “How often already you’ve had to be told, Keep cold, young orchard. Good-bye and keep cold. Dread fifty above more than fifty below.” I have to be gone for a season or so. My business awhile is with different trees, Less carefully nourished, less fruitful than these, And such as is done to their wood with an axe– Maples and birches and tamaracks. I wish I could promise to lie in the night And think of an orchard’s arboreal plight When slowly (and nobody comes with a light) Its heart sinks lower under the sod. But something has to be left to God.

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