Others taught me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well than where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven godlike
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths–and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem For Once, Then, Something


  1. swetangi says:

    its a nice poem.i think in this poem poet wants to teach something.he wants to show us our mirror,that what we are.

  2. Linda Sue Grines says:

    In “For Once, Then, Something,” the narrator encompasses a unique epiphany while looking into a well. In the past, people jeer at him for not orientating himself correctly when looking into the well, but once he positioned himself carefully, he saw something “white” in the depth of the water causing him to hesitate and think. A drop of water from a fern then falls onto the surface creates a ripple, disrupting his attention. In this philosophical poem, Robert Frost uses imagery and syntax to reflect on his personal beliefs and describe the encounter.
    Nature and water are both used throughout the poem to further explicate his revelation. “Others” look down so that the water is not reflexive, but the narrator looks “wrong to the light” and does not see beyond the reflection. He sees himself in the “summer heaven, godlike” and surrounded by “a wreath of fern” and “cloud puffs,” perhaps alluding to the Greek mythological god Narcissus who is forever bound to seeing his own reflection in the water. Since the narrator appears to only trust his private beliefs, people “taunt” him for not analyzing all perspectives of a situation which is necessary in creating a nuanced understanding. The color “White” has been indoctrinated into Western civilization as innocence, goodness, or truth. The view of this “something white” is “rebuked,” a rather strong word, by a ripple from a single droplet of water. The narrator ponders whether or not he had a glimpse of the “Truth” and reality, or simply the perceived reality, “A pebble of quartz.” The use of “Once” is to emphasize the narrator’s transition from a past of arrogance to a temporary grasp of “Truth” or reality. The title “For Once, Then, Something,” is rather ambiguous, as it has no clear meaning. However, the purpose of the poem ending with the title could indicate that the narrator has returned to his starting position where he still only sees the reflection of himself upon the water. Robert Frost’s “For Once, Then, Something” carefully reflects his process of learning and his philosophy.

  3. Jeanette says:

    Actually the first line of the poem is not “Others TAUGHT me with having knelt at well-curbs” it is “Others TAUNT me with having knelt at well-curbs” In other words other people that he knows have managed to see what is hidden in the depths of the well, but possibly because of his own shallow nature he cannot see beyond his reflection on the surface.

  4. john says:

    frost is saying that if you look deeper down into situations, you will see them in more depth, therefore; understand them better.

  5. Mike Fladlien says:

    i think the poem means that reality is just an illustion…you think you understand then something happens to change your view…

  6. naga vishnu kanth says:

    this poem is one of the best works of robert frost.

  7. Jess says:

    i think it can be interpreted as him talking about american values

  8. Louis says:

    I think here Frost is saying here you can never figure out life or expect it too take the path you want. You might think you have the answers, the clarity, the vision, or meaning, and then something…. Oh well!! Back to the drawing board

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