The Need of Being Versed in Country Things

The house had gone to bring again
To the midnight sky a sunset glow.
Now the chimney was all of the house that stood,
Like a pistil after the petals go.
The barn opposed across the way,
That would have joined the house in flame
Had it been the will of the wind, was left
To bear forsaken the place’s name.
No more it opened with all one end
For teams that came by the stony road
To drum on the floor with scurrying hoofs
And brush the mow with the summer load.
The birds that came to it through the air
At broken windows flew out and in,
Their murmur more like the sigh we sigh
From too much dwelling on what has been.
Yet for them the lilac renewed its leaf,
And the aged elm, though touched with fire;
And the dry pump flung up an awkward arm;
And the fence post carried a strand of wire.
For them there was really nothing sad.
But though they rejoiced in the nest they kept,
One had to be versed in country things
Not to believe the phoebes wept.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem The Need of Being Versed in Country Things


  1. margaret atwell says:

    well this poem, i have read many a time and i am beginning to come to terms with it all now, i find it very inspiring in my work as a glamour model

  2. ea says:

    If you grew up in the country, truly, you understand natural decay and “to every season turn, turn,” and you do not grieve too long and certainly know that the birds don’t.

  3. Jase says:

    I’d have to disagree with some of the aforementioned ideas. I think this poem is about the relationship of nature to human emotion and suffering. By saying “For them there was really nothing sad” he is saying that human loss doesn’t reflect on nature, which in this poem is represented by the phoebes. The birds are singing and flying around, and the tulips are growing regardless of the fact the farmhouse was a desolate wreck.

  4. Norah says:

    I think this poem has got a lot of emotions in it. It’s about the great human feelings in contrast with the lack of feelings in nature. The speaker is giving a sense of sadness, regret, and the idea of abandoned things.
    He’s trying to give the birds human feelings “Their murmur more like the sigh we sigh”. It’s obvious in the poem that there’s no sentiment in nature. Things other than human beings don’t have feelings and emotions.
    That’s all what i can say about this poem. I think its quiet interesting!

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  6. Nick says:

    Literally the poem is about a desolated farmhouse whhich burned leaving a barn, inhabited by birds. This poem is written in quatrains. It contrasts the views of man and nature with ‘the will of the wind’. Nature just carries on like ‘the lilac renewed its leaf And the aged elm although touched with fire’ however the man made objects like the ‘pump’ and ‘wire’ don’t renew. I think the metaphorical meaning is that there is a gulf between human artiface and nature.

  7. Mikaela says:

    Rahul was very critical of the poem and is not even caring to look for the meaning.

  8. Rahul says:


  9. Dan says:

    It seems that Frost knew how deeply loss could be felt. In his poem “Bereft” he seems to be discussing the death of a loved one. This poem also describes the way life is after some loss. It might be the death of a spouse or child. It might be after a divorce. Or it may be from the loss of a job or some possession like your house that just burned to the ground. When it is over, it is so significant that you imagine that the birds themselves know how serious it is.

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