The Onset

Robert Frost

Always the same when on a fated night
At last the gathered snow lets down as white
     As maybe in dark woods and with a song
     It shall not make again all winter long
Of hissing on the yet uncovered ground,
I almost stumble looking up and round,
     As one who overtaken by the end
     Gives up his errand and lets death descend
Upon him where he is, with nothing done
To evil, no important triumph won
More than if life had never been begun.

Yet all the precedent is on my side:
I know that winter death has never tried
     The earth but it has failed: the snow may heap
     In long storms an undrifted four feet deep
As measured against maple, birch, and oak;
It cannot check the Peeper’s silver croak;
     And I shall see the snow all go down hill
     In water of a slender April rill
That flashes tail through last year’s withered brake
And dead weeds like a disappearing snake.
     Nothing will be left white but here a birch
     And there a clump of houses with a church.

Robert Frost was an American poet and four-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize. He died in 1963.
Originally published:
January 1, 1921


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