He saw her from the bottom of the stairs
Before she saw him. She was starting down,
Looking back over her shoulder at some fear.
She took a doubtful step and then undid it
To raise herself and look again. He spoke
Advancing toward her: ‘What is it you see
From up there always — for I want to know.’
She turned and sank upon her skirts at that,
And her face changed from terrified to dull.
He said to gain time: ‘What is it you see?’
Mounting until she cowered under him.
‘I will find out now — you must tell me, dear.’
She, in her place, refused him any help
With the least stiffening of her neck and silence.
She let him look, sure that he wouldn’t see,
Blind creature; and a while he didn’t see.
But at last he murmured, ‘Oh’ and again, ‘Oh.’
‘What is it — what?’ she said.
‘Just that I see.’
‘You don’t,’ she challenged. ‘Tell me what it is.’
‘The wonder is I didn’t see at once.
I never noticed it from here before.
I must be wonted to it — that’s the reason.’
The little graveyard where my people are!
So small the window frames the whole of it.
Not so much larger than a bedroom, is it?
There are three stones of slate and one of marble,
Broad-shouldered little slabs there in the sunlight
On the sidehill. We haven’t to mind those.
But I understand: it is not the stones,
But the child’s mound –‘
‘Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t,’ she cried.
She withdrew shrinking from beneath his arm
That rested on the banister, and slid downstairs;
And turned on him with such a daunting look,
He said twice over before he knew himself:
‘Can’t a man speak of his own child he’s lost?’
‘Not you! Oh, where’s my hat? Oh, I don’t need it!
I must get out of here. I must get air.
I don’t know rightly whether any man can.’
‘Amy! Don’t go to someone else this time.
Listen to me. I won’t come down the stairs.’
He sat and fixed his chin between his fists.
‘There’s something I should like to ask you, dear.’
‘You don’t know how to ask it.’
‘Help me, then.’
Her fingers moved the latch for all reply.
‘My words are nearly always an offence.
I don’t know how to speak of anything
So as to please you. But I might be taught
I should suppose. I can’t say I see how,
A man must partly give up being a man
With women-folk. We could have some arrangement
By which I’d bind myself to keep hands off
Anything special you’re a-mind to name.
Though I don’t like such things ‘twixt those that love.
Two that don’t love can’t live together without them.
But two that do can’t live together with them.’
She moved the latch a little. ‘Don’t — don’t go.
Don’t carry it to someone else this time.
Tell me about it if it’s something human.
Let me into your grief. I’m not so much
Unlike other folks as your standing there
Apart would make me out. Give me my chance.
I do think, though, you overdo it a little.
What was it brought you up to think it the thing
To take your mother-loss of a first child
So inconsolably- in the face of love.
You’d think his memory might be satisfied –‘
‘There you go sneering now!’
‘I’m not, I’m not!
You make me angry. I’ll come down to you.
God, what a woman! And it’s come to this,
A man can’t speak of his own child that’s dead.’
‘You can’t because you don’t know how.
If you had any feelings, you that dug
With your own hand–how could you?–his little grave;
I saw you from that very window there,
Making the gravel leap and leap in air,
Leap up, like that, like that, and land so lightly
And roll back down the mound beside the hole.
I thought, Who is that man? I didn’t know you.
And I crept down the stairs and up the stairs
To look again, and still your spade kept lifting.
Then you came in. I heard your rumbling voice
Out in the kitchen, and I don’t know why,
But I went near to see with my own eyes.
You could sit there with the stains on your shoes
Of the fresh earth from your own baby’s grave
And talk about your everyday concerns.
You had stood the spade up against the wall
Outside there in the entry, for I saw it.’
‘I shall laugh the worst laugh I ever laughed.
I’m cursed. God, if I don’t believe I’m cursed.’
I can repeat the very words you were saying ,
“Three foggy mornings and one rainy day
Will rot the best birch fence a man can build.”
Think of it, talk like that at such a time!
What had how long it takes a birch to rot
To do with what was in the darkened parlour?
You couldn’t care! The nearest friends can go
With anyone to death, comes so far short
They might as well not try to go at all.
No, from the time when one is sick to death,
One is alone, and he dies more alone.
Friends make pretence of following to the grave,
But before one is in it, their minds are turned
And making the best of their way back to life
And living people, and things they understand.
But the world’s evil. I won’t have grief so
If I can change it. Oh, I won’t, I won’t’
‘There, you have said it all and you feel better.
You won’t go now. You’re crying. Close the door.
The heart’s gone out of it: why keep it up?
Amyl There’s someone coming down the road!’
‘You –oh, you think the talk is all. I must go-
Somewhere out of this house. How can I make you –‘
‘If–you — do!’ She was opening the door wider.
‘Where do you mean to go? First tell me that.
I’ll follow and bring you back by force. I will! –‘

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

17 Comments

  1. HalfPint says:

    Brittany this poem is definitely not talking about the death of a wife it is talking about the death of a child in which the father buries.

  2. Pragyan says:

    Yes,it’s a really heart touching poem and has reveled lots of thing about personal problem..It basically focuses what may happen when there is cold communication..we should always give due consideration to communication otherwise it may ruin our life as well as in poem…..

  3. Sai Kishore says:

    This poem is interesting. It clearly describes the relationship between a father and a child, mother and child and also between a husband and wife.

  4. Kathy says:

    Wonderful poem but could the relationship between man and woman be so tense and full of conflict?Well Robert Frost must have been in deep grief then for the deaths of the people he loved.The poet was a sensitive man,full of stress.

  5. Sabahat Batool says:

    It’s a great dramatic poem of Robert Frost.it shows us how a dead child creates the problem between the living persons……these two persons are not someone else but they are his real parents…this poem shows a big greif,mother can’t accept it but father accepts the reality…….

  6. Annie says:

    I find this poem to be very interesting yet very depressing. It can have so many views interepted. Such as the role of a man and a woman. The death of a close one, and how lack of communication and understanding can terribly hurt a relationship. Everyone is entitled to express their emotions they want, but the wife does not like the fact that the husband won’t express himself. Very deep thinking by Frost, especially since this is his own life expreience.

  7. Kara says:

    Merve I have to agree with you with all that is said!

    After researching Frost, I have came to find out about his own loss of his children. Throughout his life he had a lot of death that engulfed him. The meaning of this is that everyone he cared for ended up dying earlier than expected. His son Elliot died at age 4, his daughter Elinor Bettina died when she was 3 days old, his wife suffers fom a miscarriage, two of his daughters suffered mental breakdowns and died, and his son Carol committed suicide. So I believe that Frost knew exactly what he wanted to portray in this story. I believe that in the time this poem was wrote you have to realize that the father would want the very best for his child in death and that the mother did not understand what the father was trying to do. The father built the casket for his son(it was his responsiblity to take care of the burial while the mother mourns over the death of her child) as his turn to mourn comes in later after his son’s burial was complete! Why else do you believe that he buried the child in his yard? He wanted to remember his child always and keep him close, so he could oversee the care of his grave. Yes, I agree with Merve, the Father has to mourn in his own way. As for the Mother, she wants all the attention on herself and this keeps her blinded from what her husband is actually doing for their son!

  8. Tori says:

    I had never before today come across “Home Burial,” although I am a longtime fan of Robert Frost. This poem is beautifully, brutally real. Overwhelming grief, alienation from those to whom we are closest are universal experiences. Frost captures the pain and confusion well.

  9. Jackie says:

    Writing a 5 page essay on frost, seriously it’s not easy to do..theres not much to say.. hopefully i can get some stuff out of this poem.
    And it’s from personal experience, that’s what poems are expression of deep feeling, obviously he’s going to write about something as deep as his son dying, he’s a poet.

  10. stacy says:

    this was an interesting poem. it was sad and long but one of the more interesting frost poems that i have read and analyzed thus far.

  11. ldcm says:

    Frost handles the topic of a dying child very skillfully. While, the phrasing at times in ackward in the piece, the sentiment and frustration on the part of the husband and wife is authentic. “Home Burial,” is a mostly successful poem. The image that stays with me is imagining the wife watching the husband digging the grave. I can see her being utterly amazed at his effort. I can see the husband being so entranced in the act that he would have no emotional consequence or concern about the digging. The digging was necessary. The burial was necessary. For the wife, his grief has been insufficient, not enough.

  12. The Boom says:

    this poem sucks. its the most depressive thing ive read since an emo songs lyrics. who in their right frame of mind would want to write a poem based on a child dying? its a sick sick world we live in.

  13. alex story says:

    i gosh don shot my foot angian dango dango dango

  14. Susan says:

    It is a good poem and it highlights the problems the death of a child can bring. It shows how the mother cannot express her grief to her husband and how thwe father cannot understand his wifes grief.

  15. Sweet Butterfly says:

    Frost’s poem is definitely about the problem of the lack of communication that a couple may face, but it is more about a kind of an emotional conflict. This conflict lies in the way the two characters are shown. The woman (mother) is devastated about her son’s death and she shows it clearly; she does not try to hide her feelings as opposed to her husband who had dug his son’s grave with his hands and in the poem, he does not show his grief and mourning. However, this does not mean that he is insensitive or is devoid of the feelings a father should have, but he masks his emotions for a reason or another. Maybe one devastated parent is more than enough in a marriage (the mother) or else the marriage would fall apart but on the other hand, this masking of emotions, to the husband’s surprise, leads to a separation on the part of his wife, if not physically (although it happens at the end of the poem), it is an emotional separation which is the most hurtful.

  16. merve says:

    home burial ıs a dramatic poem about two event ın fact.one of them ıs death of a young boy ,couples son.and the other one ıs lack of communicatıon between two people who lıve ın the same house.mother of the boy ıs very sad about the death of a chıld and she shows ıt cryıng or seemıng mıserable but father trıes to mask the paın usıng pysical effort.for woman ıt ıs better to die than buring her cılh but as a farmer man sees this a very normal and at the same tıme very paınful process.and ın a way he trıes to forget hıs own paın through thıs.hope thıs helps. by the way ın the end the women trıes to go out and talk someone else and man doesnt allow and he wants her to talk to hım ınstead of strangers but woman goes and doesnt gove any chance to man.ın my opınıon woman ıs rıght becouse she wants to see that as a father he is sorry for his lost chıld but father ıs also rıght he doesnt have to show his feelıngs ın the way she wants.and who ıs rıght and who ıs wrong*ın fact thıs ıs not the questıon.problem ıs that there ıs no communıcatıon between them and thıs case ıs very sımılar ın all pats of the world but women and men have to be together:)

  17. bill black says:

    robert frost it seems, was writting more to him self than to an audiance, the lost of his first child must have left a gap of emptiness in his life. when someone lose a love one, they will try to mask the pain of death with some form of disguise, this is what frost wife see’s, while awaiting the actual burial of their child. people react in many different ways, the outer appearence can be totally reversed on the inside. fear can play a major role in determining how a person will react to death, assuming what lies beyond death has always been a fear factor; frost was no different from any other man, amy did not realize this. frost was at his best in “Home Burial” he was saying, don’t stand back and judge the outer appearence of grief, while it is the inner man thet suffer.

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