Asking for Roses
A house that lacks, seemingly, mistress and master,
With doors that none but the wind ever closes,
Its floor all littered with glass and with plaster;
It stands in a garden of old-fashioned roses.
I pass by that way in the gloaming with Mary;
‘I wonder,’ I say, ‘who the owner of those is.
‘Oh, no one you know,’ she answers me airy,
‘But one we must ask if we want any roses.’
So we must join hands in the dew coming coldly
There in the hush of the wood that reposes,
And turn and go up to the open door boldly,
And knock to the echoes as beggars for roses.
‘Pray, are you within there, Mistress Who-were-you?’
‘Tis Mary that speaks and our errand discloses.
‘Pray, are you within there? Bestir you, bestir you!
‘Tis summer again; there’s two come for roses.
‘A word with you, that of the singer recalling—
Old Herrick: a saying that every maid knows is
A flower unplucked is but left to the falling,
And nothing is gained by not gathering roses.’
We do not loosen our hands’ intertwining
(Not caring so very much what she supposes),
There when she comes on us mistily shining
And grants us by silence the boon of her roses.
About Robert Frost
Robert Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874. Following the death of his father when Frost was 11, his family moved to Massachusetts. He began writing poetry in high school and went on to study at Dartmouth and Harvard though he did not finish college at either. His first published poem, My Butterfly, appeared in New York’s The Independent in 1894.
Frost worked as a teacher, cobbler, newspaper editor and farmer, ultimately selling his unsuccessful farm and moving to England in 1912 where he published his first collection. He returned to the U.S. in 1915 and by the 1920s had published several collections and had become one of the most popular poets in the country. Deeply rooted in place, his poems often embodied rural New England. He would ultimately win four Pulitzer prizes for his poetry. His best known poems include The Road Not Taken, Mending Wall, and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.
He went on to serve as a college professor at various institutions and later was called upon to recite a poem at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. Robert Frost died in 1963.