For Once, Then, Something
by Robert Frost
Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths–and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.
Let me start with a confession. I have long disliked Robert Frost. I am not one of those English kids that goes all giggly over him. “Birches” is alright. And then I read this poem.
This poem is bad ass. It is in freaking hendecasyllabics. What’s a hendecasyllabic, you might ask? Well, it is a trochee, a dactyl, and then four more trochees. It’s a classical meter that is hardly ever used in English.
So what? This poem doesn’t feel like it’s driven by meter, and it doesn’t feel stilted. This is crazy hard to do with so regular a meter, particularly with a trochaic one.
Okay, nerd fit accomplished. In short, Robert Frost = bad ass.