Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air
That crossed me from sweet things,
The scent of — was it musk
From hidden grapevine springs
Down hill at dusk?
I had the swirl and ache
From sprays of honeysuckle
That when they’re gathered shake
Dew on the knuckle.
I craved sweet things, but those
Seemed strong when I was young;
The petal of the rose
It was that stung.
Now no joy but lacks salt
That is not dashed with pain
And weariness and fault;
I crave the stain
Of tears, the aftermark
Of almost too much love,
The sweet of bitter bark
And burning clove.
When stiff and sore and scarred
I take away my hand
From leaning on it hard
In grass and sand,
The hurt is not enough:
I long for weight and strength
To feel the earth as rough
To all my length.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem To Earthward


  1. Allison says:

    i had to find a poem to memorize for my creative writing class. i came across this poem, read it over, and fell in love. although all of these 8 stanzas are a lot to memorize, i believe this poem symbolized beauty and all of the love and feelings expressed when you love someone deeply.

  2. abby says:

    this is the most romantic poem i have read

  3. Shelly says:

    I think that this poem is ageless. Yes reference to age would be the natural conclusion However, youth are not immune to loss or weariness. To me this poem rings true to loss. He had this wonderful love. Love which by the touch of her lips lifted his feet of the ground. But now that love is lost. She’s not with him. And this hurt and pain isn’t enough to sustian him. All he wants is the return of that loss and since he can’t seem to get it, he just wants to rest and never wake up. For those of us out there lucky enough to come across this poem. It can speak true to us in any type of loss, signoficant others or loved ones. I know that after you experience a major loss in your life, that certain scent can take you back to the exact feelings you felt, good or bad. There comes a time in grief when you realize that this person that you loved, who was a part of your everyday life and a part of who your are as a person is not coming back. No matter how much you pray and hope for it. So in that very next moment after you realize, (for some people it may last only a moment, for others it may last there life time) there is this feeling that all you want in this world is to die, because it has to be better than what you are feeling in that moment. Then if you are lucky the moment passes and the process of grief and healing begins. I think true this poem Mr. Frost was able to release the hurt he had carried and I think in that sense this poem is very healing and beautiful.

  4. Ana says:

    “To Earthward” – the title is very ambigous, giving two directions of which one is from up to down and from down to up. This gives the notion of being unfulfilled.

    “Love at the Lips” – here there is an alliteration which seems to “lengthen” the kiss.

    “And once that seeemed to much;” – This is evidence that the persona is writing this poem as an experienced person, but is portraying it as love was felt when he/she was younger.

    “I lived on air/That crossed me from sweet things,” – very beautiful enjambment here. Gives two ideas, one that the persona does live in air because that is the feeling he/she gets from love an also another idea of the persona is kept alive by the air that crossed him/her from sweet things.

    “Te flow of– was it musk” – The persona can’t even remember the circumstances because when one is young the only important factor is the way one is feeling. Musk, is a sexual attraction for animals.

    “Downhill at Dusk?” – Here, there is another source of alliteration which the “d” sound gives the notion of bringing down toward earth.

    “That when they’re gathered shake/Dew on the knuckle” – beautiful imagery of a heavy wet bouque of roses.

    “Seemed strong when I was young;” – once again reenforcing that notion of innocence and idea that the person is an experienced person.

    “The petal of the rose/ it was that stung.” – beautiful metaphor for deception.

    Then the first 16 lines of innocence and youthfulness is over and comes down to the next 16 lines of experience and the aged.

    “Now no joy but lacks salt,” – Dont get confused by the triple negative of “no, but, lack”. Basically joy has salt. The “Now” is because the persona is now older and more experienced.

    “And weariness an fault;/I crave the stain” – the enjabments lengthen and emphasize this idea.

    “Of tears, the aftermark” – aftermark is the evidence of love

    “The sweet of bitter bark” – the idea of bringing together

  5. kittz says:

    When I first read this poem, I didn’t know why it made me uncomfortable, other than there being a reference to death in it..

    But now, a number of years later, I can better understand the feeling of having, and needing, an hint of something extra in my experiences to really ‘feel’ those experiences. I can only imagine how I will feel when I am older again; the extra dash of ‘pain/ And weariness and fault’, feeling the additionaly little pique that come along with each feeling, emotion, sense… to smell a perfume in the air, and not only feel the sense of smell twitch, but have the memories attached to it.. the happiness, pain, whatever it may be, twitch and shudder and make me smell it all the better.

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