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The Hill Wife

Robert Frost

Loneliness

(Her Word)

One ought not to have to care
   So much as you and I
Care when the birds come round the house
   To seem to say good-bye;
Or care so much when they come back
   With whatever it is they sing;
The truth being we are as much
   Too glad for the one thing
As we are too sad for the other here —
   With birds that fill their breasts
But with each other and themselves
   And their built or driven nests.

House Fear

Always — I tell you this they learned —
Always at night when they returned
To the lonely house from far away,
To lamps unlighted and fire gone gray,
They learned to rattle the lock and key
To give whatever might chance to be
Warning and time to be off in flight:
And preferring the out- to the in-door night,
They learned to leave the house-door wide
Until they had lit the lamp inside.

The Oft-Repeated Dream

She had no saying dark enough
   For the dark pine that kept
Forever trying the window-latch
   Of the room where they slept.
The tireless but ineffectual hands
   That with every futile pass
Made the great tree seem as a little bird
   Before the mystery of glass!
It never had been inside the room,
   And only one of the two
Was afraid in an oft-repeated dream
   Of what the tree might do.

The Impulse

It was too lonely for her there,
   And too wild,
And since there were but two of them,
   And no child,
And work was little in the house,
   She was free,
And followed where he furrowed field,
   Or felled tree.
She rested on a log and tossed
   The fresh chips,
With a song only to herself
   On her lips.
And once she went to break a bough
   Of black alder.
She strayed so far she scarcely heard
   When he called her —
And didn't answer — didn't speak —
   Or return.
She stood, and then she ran and hid
   In the fern.
He never found her, though he looked
   Everywhere,
And he asked at her mother's house
   Was she there.
Sudden and swift and light as that
   The ties gave,
And he learned of finalities
   Besides the grave.

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