Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dancing on the Wind

One of my favorite poems by Robert Frost is a piece entitled "A Tuft of Flowers". For most people, and justifiably so, Frost is addressing the frequent loneliness we all feel as we make our way through the world, notwithstanding the fact that we all are engaged in similar tasks. All of us are children, most of us are parents. We all wrestle with world events that we do not understand; and then there are the world events that we do understand. We reach out to one another; sometimes as friends, sometimes as lovers. Our associations with one another are as needful as air. Robert Frost suggests that sometimes the most vital connections occur when we least expect them.

A Tuft of Flowers

I went to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.

The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the levelled scene.

I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,--alone,

`As all must be,' I said within my heart,
`Whether they work together or apart.'

But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a 'wildered butterfly,

Seeking with memories grown dim o'er night
Some resting flower of yesterday's delight.

And once I marked his flight go round and round,
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.

And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.

I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;

But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.

I left my place to know them by their name,
Finding them butterfly weed when I came.

The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,

Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.

The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,

That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,

And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.

`Men work together,' I told him from the heart,
`Whether they work together or apart.'

I have always loved the role of the butterfly, the Dancer on the Wind, that facilitated the deep and abiding connection between the reaper and the turner of the hay. The butterfly had no idea what it had done; it simply was looking for butterfly weed. It obeyed its nature and unknowingly drew the hearts of the two men together. Needless to say, had either one of the men failed to do that which they had been called upon to do, the flight of the butterfly would have been meaningless.

As we go through life we fully expect to be rewarded for the good that we do. We expect compensation for our labors. We desire recognition, honor from those whom we esteem. I think that I would rather, when all is revealed, to be surprised to find that I had been a blessing to another in a wonderful and miraculous way, as transcendent as that which the butterfly accomplished, pointing out in my trembling flight through life one of those things which bind us together as the children of God.

1 comment:

Trillium said...

It's one of Frost's poems that I memorized many years ago.