Sunday, June 8, 2008

Frost Vandals Sentenced to, Shudder, Poetry

After they had been sentenced by the presiding judge to take a class
on Robert Frost for the crime
of vandalizing Frost's summer home,
Poet and Frost biographer Jay Parini selected, among others, the
following poem to use in a class for the two dozen convicted teens.


Out, Out by Robert Frost
The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behing the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside him in her apron
To tell them "Supper." At the word, the saw,
As if it meant to prove saws know what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy's hand, or seemed to leap -
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy's first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all -
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man's work, though a child at heart -
He saw all was spoiled. "Don't let him cut my hand off -
The doctor, when he comes. Don't let him, sister!"
So. The hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then - the watcher at his pulse took a fright.
No one believed. They listened to his heart.
Little - less - nothing! - and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.


Here's an NPR interview with Parini discussing the whole situation.

I'm not sure Frost would have been as kind as Parini or the judge.
Perhaps they should have been simply sentenced to understand The
Road Not Taken.

From Issa:


"Get ready, get ready
for death!"
-cherry blossoms

----------translated by David Lanoue


Thanks to David at f/k/a for pointing to a series of links about the Frost
vandalization. His is still the best website to get all your legal and
haiku news

Till next time,

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Charles Gramlich said...

Vandalism is the crime I understand least. They're not stealing it, or making use of it, just tearing it up. I've had my car vandalized before and it is sickening.

david giacalone said...

Thanks for covering and expanding on this topic, Don, and for pointing back to f/k/a/. Of course, I must warn your readers not to expect "all" of anything at my humble little site.

pieplate said...

I believe that Parini did start with "The Road Not Taken", and that the kids involved profess to have learned something from it. I do wonder which part of their sentence chafes them more, the community service or the poetry. My step-son earned some community service at one point, and the part that affected him the most was that the people involved were kind to him and cared about what they were doing (trail repair, in this case).

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


A very good point you make (or your step-son makes) about the power of people caring, which probably was the original judges' intent.

Point well taken. Many thanks,