Robert Frost: War Thoughts at Home

Posted By on September 30, 2006

Robert FrostI’m generally not attracted to poetry, or classical prose for that matter, but I do have a couple of favorites. One such poet is Robert Frost who’s recently discovered poem is being published in the Virginia Quarterly Review. The poem entitled “War Thoughts at Home” was discovered 88 years after it was handwritten in the front of close friend’s book by graduate student Robert Stilling. Frost, who died in 1963, wrote the poem in distress after loosing a friend in 1918 during World War I according to scholars. Although this is not the first Frost poem to be discovered this way, it might be the last.

The somber 35 line poem was uncovered as Stilling was cataloging the papers of Frost’s friend Frederic Melcher, who in 1947 wrote a letter which referred to an unpublished handwritten poem in a copy of Frost’s book “North of Boston”. For an indepth read of Frost’s original notetaking, Harvard University Press has an 848 page transcription the details the thoughts of this “loved and misunderstood writer.”

Since I can’t leave you with the new poem, I’ll offer up one of my two favorites, maybe I’ll use the other one another time?
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost -1915

Robert Frost in later yearsTwo roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


  • I read an article just today regarding Robert Frost’s Farm and other historic sites which are falling into disrepair. It’s such a shame that no one is taking care of such historical landmarks. I would love to to see the home.

  • This is what I’ve been able to piece together from various reports.

    War Thoughts at Home
    Robert Frost
    [35 lines, 7 stanzas, each 5 lines]

    The flurry of bird war [?]

    It is late in an afternoon
    More grey with snow to fall
    Than white with fallen snow
    When it is blue jay and crow
    Or no bird at all.

    3. [or 1?]
    On the backside of the house
    Where it wears no paint to the weather
    And so shows most its age,
    Suddenly blue jays rage
    And flash in blue feather.


    And one says to the rest
    “We must just watch our chance
    And escape one by one-
    Though the fight is no more done
    Than the war is in France.”

    Than the war is in France!
    She thinks of a winter camp
    Where soldiers for France are made.
    She draws down the window shade
    And it glows with an early lamp.

    The uneven sheds stretch back
    Shed behind shed in train
    Like cars that have long lain
    Dead on a side track.

  • I’ve been trying to do the same thing Garth … but you found quite a bit more than I have. Thanks for sharing and putting the effort in to post. If you put it all together let me know and I’d like to have you post it to my blog as a ‘guest post.’

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.