A tree’s leaves may be ever so good,
So may its bar, so may its wood;
But unless you put the right thing to its root
It never will show much flower or fruit.

But I may be one who does not care
Ever to have tree bloom or bear.
Leaves for smooth and bark for rough,
Leaves and bark may be tree enough.

Some giant trees have bloom so small
They might as well have none at all.
Late in life I have come on fern.
Now lichens are due to have their turn.

I bade men tell me which in brief,
Which is fairer, flower or leaf.
They did not have the wit to say,
Leaves by night and flowers by day.

Leaves and bar, leaves and bark,
To lean against and hear in the dark.
Petals I may have once pursued.
Leaves are all my darker mood.

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

4 Comments

  1. Ryan says:

    The ‘authoritative’ collected poems of Robert Frost reads “Leaves and bark, leaves and bark”–the textual notes suggest no other variations on that line.

    My opinion is that this was a typo that has been copied and pasted into several web sites.

  2. Dennis Barnes says:

    “Leaves and bar, leaves and bark” – what does “bar” mean?

  3. CP says:

    Insight compared with understanding.

  4. Rao says:

    Lord, what a sweet poem!

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