Friday, December 15, 2017

Rich in Stones

Page image of Old Farmer's Almanac featuring Frost's poemLast week, we brought you an 1890 plea to farmers to stay in New Hampshire. The lure of the rich soil of the Midwest was proving too strong, and land prices in New Hampshire were suffering. Skip forward fifty-odd years, and here we have a kind of admission of defeat in the first appearance of Robert Frost's poem, "Rich in Stones," in the 1942 Old Farmer's Almanac. Frost, an on-again, off-again New England farmer, knew what he was writing about. The short poem is narrated by an old New England farmer:
I farm a pasture where the boulders lie
As touching as a basket full of egg
It is addressed to one who has moved away to more fertile fields in the west:
In wind-soil to a depth of thirty feet.
And every acre good enough to eat
Then the narrator fantasizes about shipping a largish stone west to "set up like a statue in your yard." There it would stand as
"The portrait of the soul of my Gransir Ira.
It came from where he came from anyway."
There is a certain crustiness to the poem that captures the spirit of Yankee farmers too stubborn to head west, but also an acknowledgement  of the futility of staying behind.

Cover of 1942 Old Farmer's Almanac
This is part of our Robert Frost First Appearances collection that is incorporated into our Robert Frost Collection. You can ask for it by requesting MS-1178, Box 32, Folder 71.

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