The firm house lingers, though averse to square
With the new city street it has to wear A number in.
But what about the brook That held the house as in an elbow-crook?
I ask as one who knew the brook, its strength
And impulse, having dipped a finger length
And made it leap my knuckle, having tossed
A flower to try its currents where they crossed.
The meadow grass could be cemented down
From growing under pavements of a town;
The apple trees be sent to hearth-stone flame.
Is water wood to serve a brook the same?
How else dispose of an immortal force
No longer needed? Staunch it at its source
With cinder loads dumped down? The brook was
thrown Deep in a sewer dungeon under stone
In fetid darkness still to live and run –
And all for nothing it hd ever done
Except forget to go in fear perhaps.
No one would know except for ancient maps
That such a brook ran water. But I wonder
If from its being kept forever under
The thoughts may not have risen that so keep
This new-built city from both work and sleep.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem A Brook in the City


  1. James Henry says:

    The poem is about the Spicket River in Lawrence, Massachusetts. During the 1950s and 1960s, I grew up in the part of the city through which the Spicket flowed. By then the Spicket had become a fetid afterthought as it flowed through the city to meet the Merrimac River.

    Set amidst old colonial towns of Andover and Methuen, Massachusetts Lawrence was “created” in the 1840s specifically to use the power of the Merrimac River to run textile mills. The Spicket River, a tributary, was harnessed to power the massive Arlington Mills complex one of the world’s major producers of woolens. From those times the Spicket was never the same.

    Frost who lived in Lawrence (LHS Class of 1899) and then in southern New Hampshire knew of the Spicket’s clean source but also of its industrial use downstream.

  2. Joseph Pulimoottil says:

    Frost is one of my dearest magic poets Nature’s Poets. When I studied Frost and his poems in my 20s there was a beautiful river that danced down with its mighty music throughout the year. Now in my 50s when I teach Frost, that beautiful river which was my strength in youth is reduced to sewage by illegal farm houses and illegal quarrying of the might mountains. Poets speak the truth and their lamentations are to warn everyone.

  3. Ashlyn Hearts says:

    Because of industrialization and growing urbanization, we have become disconnected with nature. This poem reminds me of a river in my city which has been turned into a sewer. We never knew our city once had a beautiful river until the older generation told us a story of it the other day. With the older generation fading away,it seems that the river will too. Nobody will remember it for the immortal force it once had been. Why do we seem to think that nature is no longer needed? It gave us everything and asked for nothing. The least we can do is be respectful but we would rather tear her down and ravish her in order to fulfill our whims and fancies.If we proceed in this way, rivers and mountains will be nothing more than wallpapers on our laptops and computers.

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