Robert Frost

The Times Table

More than halfway up the pass Was a spring with a broken drinking glass, And whether the farmer drank or not His mare was sure to observe the spot By cramping the wheel on a water-bar, turning her forehead with a star, And straining her ribs for a monster sigh; To which the farmer would make reply, ‘A sigh for every so many breath, And for every so many sigh a death. That’s what I always tell my wife Is the multiplication table of life.’ The saying may be ever so true; But it’s just the kind of a thing that you Nor I, nor nobody else may say, Unless our purpose is doing harm, And then I know of no better way To close a road, abandon a farm, Reduce the births of the human race, And bring back nature in people’s place.