Robert Frost's “Prayer in Spring”
“For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of pruning the vines has come, and the song of the turtledove is heard in our land.” (Song of Songs 2:11-12)
The beloved American poet philosopher Robert Frost, four-time Pulitzer Prize winner, had a birthday this month! Frost was born on March 26, 1874.
Frost is best known for his sentimental depictions of American rural life. You may remember one of his best known verses:
Two roads diverged in a wood — and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.
There is disagreement among scholars regarding Frost's faith. His mother was a follower of Swedenborgianism, a Swedish mystical belief, and she had the young Frost baptized in the Swedenborgian church. He later slipped away from that faith — and many regard his non-participation in organized religion as evidence of his atheism or agnosticism.
But Jay Parini, author of the landmark biography Robert Frost: A Life, found Frost to be deeply interested in Christianity. “Robert Frost called himself an ‘Old Testament Christian,’” Parini said. “Which meant he was really more focused on the Torah and the old Biblical stories. Things like the Book of Job, the first five books of Moses, the Book of Proverbs and the Psalms were hugely important to Frost as a poet, a man and a thinker.” Parini suggests that if you look at some of Frost’s later poetry, especially his ‘Masks,’ it becomes evident that he's meditating on Old Testament themes.
As some parts of the country still struggle with winter snows, I'd like to share Frost's “Prayer in Spring.” Because surely, Spring will come.
PRAYER IN SPRING
OH, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the spring of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.