POEM OF THE DAY
ROBERT FROST RELATES THE DEATH OF THE TIRED MAN
There were two of us left in the berry-patch;
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Bryan O'Lin and Jack had gone to Norwich.--
They called him Jack a' Nory, half in fun
And half because it seemed to anger him.--
So there we stood and let the berries go,
Talking of men we knew and had forgotten.
A sprawling, humpbacked mountain frowned on us
And blotted out a smouldering sunset cloud
That broke in fiery ashes. "Well," he said,
"Old Adam Brown is dead and gone; you'll never
See him any more. He used to wear
A long, brown coat that buttoned down before.
That's all I ever knew of him; I guess that's all
That anyone remembers. Eh?" he said,
And then, without a pause to let me answer,
He went right on.
"How about Dr. Foster?"
"Well, how about him?" I managed to reply.
He glared at me for having interrupted.
And stopped to pick his words before he spoke;
Like one who turns all personal remarks
Into a general survey of the world.
Choosing his phrases with a finicky care
So they might fit some vague opinions,
Taken, third-hand, from last year's New York Times
And jumbled all together into a thing
He thought was his philosophy.
There's more in Foster than you'd understand.
But," he continued, darkly as before,
"What do you make of Solomon Grundy's case?
You know the gossip when he first came here.
Folks said he'd gone to smash in Lunenburg,
And four years in the State Asylum here
Had almost finished him. It was Sanders' job
That put new life in him. A clear, cool day;
The second Monday in July it was.
'Born on a Monday,' that is what they said.
Remember the next few days? I guess you don't;
That was before your time. Well, Tuesday night
He said he'd go to church; and just before the prayer
He blurts right out, 'I've come here to get christened.
If I am going to have a brand new life
I'll have a new name, too.' Well, sure enough
They christened him, though I've forgotten what;
And Etta Stark, (you know, the pastor's girl)
Her head upset by what she called romance,
She went and married him on Wednesday noon.
Thursday the sun or something in the air
Got in his blood and right off he took sick.
Friday the thing got worse, and so did he;
And Saturday at four o'clock he died.
Buried on Sunday with the town decked out
As if it was a circus-day. And not a soul
Knew why they went or what he meant to them
Or what he died of. What would be your guess?"
"Well," I replied, "it seems to me that he,
Just coming from a sedentary life,
Felt a great wave of energy released,
And tried to crowd too much in one short week.
The laws of physics teach--"
"No, not at all.
He never knew 'em. He was just tired," he said.