This saying good-by on the edge of the dark
And the cold to an orchard so young in the bark
Reminds me of all that can happen to harm
An orchard away at the end of the farm
All winter, cut off by a hill from the house.
I don’t want it girdled by rabbit and mouse,
I don’t want it dreamily nibbled for browse
By deer, and I don’t want it budded by grouse.
(If certain it wouldn’t be idle to call
I’d summon grouse, rabbit, and deer to the wall
And warn them away with a stick for a gun.)
I don’t want it stirred by the heat of the sun.
(We made it secure against being, I hope,
By setting it out on a northerly slope.)
No orchard’s the worse for the wintriest storm;
But one thing about it, it mustn’t get warm.
‘How often already you’ve had to be told,
Keep cold, young orchard. Good-by and keep cold.
Dread fifty above more than fifty below.’
I have to be gone for a season or so.
My business awhile is with different trees,
less carefully nurtured, less fruitful than these,
And such as is done to their wood with an ax–
Maples and birches and tamaracks.
I wish I could promise to lie in the night
And think of an orchard’s arboreal plight
When slowly (and nobody comes with a light)
Its heart sinks lower under the sod.
But something has to be left to God.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem Good-by and Keep Cold


  1. Trey says:

    I think he is trying to keep his family safes That can stay safe and unharmed. He can only do so much because he is only one man. And when his child gose of to collage they have to make there own right and wrong choises. I felt this poem was very heart felt.

  2. DeAnna says:

    I think that Frost is trying to potray a parent and his relationship with his kid. He wants to do all he can to keep them from being hurt and killed in the real world but there is only so much he can do. Being away for a season or two may refer to when his child goes off on his own and has to take care of himself before he comes back

  3. Celia Stockton says:

    I’m Back. Upon even further research, this poem was written in 1919 according to Peter Gilbert at and published in 1920 in Harper’s Bazaar Magazine. Frost wrote this poem while living in Franconia, New Hampshire. A very article by Peter Gilbert about robert Frost is found at the above website.

  4. Celia Stockton says:

    Hello again. My humblist apologies to the reader. Frost wrote this poem when he was 59 NOT age 12. I must have glanced down at another date.
    Regardless, Good-By and Keep Cold is a very nice work of Frost and I have enjoyed the opportunity to discuss the poem. I hope others will take a moment and do likewise.

  5. Celia Stockton says:

    I found this poem during research for a paper I am writing for a college lit class. I chose Good-By and Keep Cold first and formost for the mere fact that it’s background is the season of Winter.
    Upon closer inspection, unlike many of Frost’s other well-known works;Frost empolys end rhyme to this work!
    The meter of the poem gives this work of Frost’s a childlike nursery rhyme quality.
    Frost wrote this poem when he was only twelve years old. I wouldn’t be surprised if his grammer school teacher thought it was a work of art!

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