To think to know the country and now know
The hillside on the day the sun lets go
Ten million silver lizards out of snow!
As often as I’ve seen it done before
I can’t pretend to tell the way it’s done.
It looks as if some magic of the sun
Lifted the rug that bred them on the floor
And the light breaking on them made them run.
But if I though to stop the wet stampede,
And caught one silver lizard by the tail,
And put my foot on one without avail,
And threw myself wet-elbowed and wet-kneed
In front of twenty others’ wriggling speed,–
In the confusion of them all aglitter,
And birds that joined in the excited fun
By doubling and redoubling song and twitter,
I have no doubt I’d end by holding none.

It takes the moon for this. The sun’s a wizard
By all I tell; but so’s the moon a witch.
From the high west she makes a gentle cast
And suddenly, without a jerk or twitch,
She has her speel on every single lizard.
I fancied when I looked at six o’clock
The swarm still ran and scuttled just as fast.
The moon was waiting for her chill effect.
I looked at nine: the swarm was turned to rock
In every lifelike posture of the swarm,
Transfixed on mountain slopes almost erect.
Across each other and side by side they lay.
The spell that so could hold them as they were
Was wrought through trees without a breath of storm
To make a leaf, if there had been one, stir.
One lizard at the end of every ray.
The thought of my attempting such a stray!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem A Hillside Thaw


  1. Donald Stewart says:

    There are three errors in this poem. In line 1, “now” should be “not.” Later, “She has her speel on every single lizard” should be “She has her spell on every single lizard.” And in the last line, the last word should be “stay” instead of “stray.” He is saying that it takes nature, not a man, to make those “lizards” freeze, or stay put.

  2. Robert Bahruth says:

    I teach the term ehrfurcht in my classes using Frost’s poem. His poem relates a sense of awe and respect for the wonders of nature and man’s misguided sense of being more powerful, which leads to arrogance and abuse of nature. Frost mourns his fellow humans who miss such basic everyday miracles that he needs to witness again and again. The witches and wizards of paganism seem to conjure more respectful understandings than any modern mythologies of science or religion. Our modern world has immunized us against wonder. We should all look to the artists and the poets for reminders of what their souls felt so deeply that they had to wrestle them into sounds, images and words.

  3. Amy says:

    i feel that the lizards represent society, and its dependence in times past upon the sun and daylight to go about their lives. as the moon rose in the sky, people would go home to bed, and wait for the new day.

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