Robert Frost: The Hill Wife

The Hill Wife

Robert Frost


(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.