In a Vale
When I was young, we dwelt in a vale
By a misty fen that rang all night,
And thus it was the maidens pale
I knew so well, whose garments trail
Across the reeds to a window light.
The fen had every kind of bloom,
And for every kind there was a face,
And a voice that has sounded in my room
Across the sill from the outer gloom.
Each came singly unto her place,
But all came every night with the mist;
And often they brought so much to say
Of things of moment to which, they wist,
One so lonely was fain to list,
That the stars were almost faded away
Before the last went, heavy with dew,
Back to the place from which she came—
Where the bird was before it flew,
Where the flower was before it grew,
Where bird and flower were one and the same.
And thus it is I know so well
Why the flower has odor, the bird has song.
You have only to ask me, and I can tell.
No, not vainly there did I dwell,
Nor vainly listen all the night long.
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.