'Good -bye, and Keep Cold' by Robert Lee Frost

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This saying good-bye on the edge of the dark
And 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-bye 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 nourished, less fruitful than these,
And such as is done to their wood with an axe--
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.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Frost's "Good-bye, and Keep Cold": A Masterpiece of Poetic Craftsmanship

Robert Lee Frost's poems are known for their simplicity and their deep, often philosophical, meaning. "Good-bye, and Keep Cold" is no exception. This short but powerful poem may seem like a simple farewell to winter, but it is much more than that. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the various elements that make "Good-bye, and Keep Cold" a masterpiece of poetic craftsmanship.

Form and Structure

"Good-bye, and Keep Cold" is a ten-line poem with a simple rhyme scheme: ABABCDCDEE. The poem is written in iambic pentameter, which means that each line has ten syllables and a rhythm that goes da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM, da-DUM.

The poem is divided into two stanzas. The first stanza is a farewell to winter, while the second stanza is a message to the person to whom the poem is addressed. The first stanza is made up of six lines, while the second stanza has only four.

The use of a simple rhyme scheme and iambic pentameter, combined with the two-stanza structure, creates a sense of balance and symmetry in the poem. The poem flows smoothly, with each line leading to the next, creating a sense of unity and wholeness.

Imagery and Symbolism

Frost is known for his use of vivid and powerful imagery in his poems, and "Good-bye, and Keep Cold" is no exception. The poem is full of images of winter and the natural world.

In the first stanza, Frost writes:

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,

In just a few lines, Frost creates a vivid image of an April day. We can feel the warmth of the sun, but also the chill of the wind. We can see the sunlit arch, but also the cloud that comes over it.

The second stanza is even more powerful in its imagery. Frost writes:

Roses are out of town and snowballs' gay,
Yet well within sight of the door.
Lilacs' keeping ahead of May.
It's spring when the world is mud-
luscious and puddle-wonderful.

Here, Frost uses the images of roses, snowballs, lilacs, mud, and puddles to create a picture of spring. We can see the flowers blooming, the snow melting, and the mud and puddles left behind.

Frost also uses symbolism in the poem. For example, the wind in the first stanza can be seen as a metaphor for the challenges and difficulties of life. The cloud that comes over the sunlit arch can be seen as a symbol of sadness or uncertainty.

The roses, snowballs, and lilacs in the second stanza can also be seen as symbols of hope and renewal. The mud and puddles can be seen as symbols of the messiness of life, but also of its beauty and potential.

Tone and Mood

The tone and mood of "Good-bye, and Keep Cold" are complex and multi-layered. On one hand, there is a sense of farewell and sadness in the poem. Winter is coming to an end, and we must say goodbye to it. The wind and the cloud in the first stanza create a sense of uncertainty and unease.

On the other hand, there is a sense of hope and renewal in the poem. Spring is on its way, and we can see the signs of it all around us. The roses, snowballs, and lilacs in the second stanza create a sense of joy and anticipation.

The overall tone of the poem is one of acceptance and resilience. Frost is acknowledging that life is full of ups and downs, but that we must keep moving forward. The title of the poem, "Good-bye, and Keep Cold," can be seen as a reminder to stay strong and resilient in the face of adversity.

Themes and Meanings

The themes and meanings of "Good-bye, and Keep Cold" are wide-ranging and complex. At its core, the poem is about the cyclical nature of life. Winter gives way to spring, darkness gives way to light.

The poem is also about the human experience of loss and grief. We must say goodbye to the things we love, but we can find hope and renewal in the world around us. The roses, snowballs, and lilacs in the second stanza can be seen as symbols of the people and things we have lost, but also as symbols of the new beginnings and possibilities that await us.

Finally, the poem is about the resilience and strength of the human spirit. We may face challenges and difficulties, but we can keep moving forward, even in the face of adversity.


"Good-bye, and Keep Cold" is a masterpiece of poetic craftsmanship. Frost uses form, structure, imagery, symbolism, tone, and mood to create a powerful and multi-layered poem about the cyclical nature of life, the human experience of loss and grief, and the resilience and strength of the human spirit. The poem is a reminder to stay strong and resilient in the face of adversity, and to find hope and renewal in the world around us.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Good-bye, and Keep Cold: A Poem of Farewell and Resilience

Robert Lee Frost is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, known for his evocative and insightful explorations of nature, human relationships, and the complexities of life. One of his most poignant and enduring works is the poem "Good-bye, and Keep Cold," which captures the bittersweet emotions of parting and the enduring power of hope and resilience. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language of this classic poem, and examine its relevance and impact on readers today.

The poem "Good-bye, and Keep Cold" was first published in Frost's collection "New Hampshire" in 1923, and has since become one of his most beloved and widely anthologized works. The poem is written in the form of a letter or message, addressed to an unnamed recipient who is departing on a journey. The speaker of the poem, presumably Frost himself, offers words of farewell and encouragement, urging the recipient to stay strong and brave in the face of adversity and uncertainty.

The poem opens with the lines "Good-bye, and keep cold, / We both know what snow can do." These lines immediately establish the tone and setting of the poem, evoking a sense of coldness, isolation, and vulnerability. The use of the imperative "keep cold" suggests that the speaker is aware of the challenges and dangers that the recipient will face on their journey, and is urging them to stay alert and prepared. The reference to snow also carries symbolic weight, suggesting the harshness and unpredictability of the natural world, and the need for resilience and adaptability.

The second stanza of the poem continues this theme of resilience and endurance, with the lines "How few can stay / Such frostiness out of the cold." Here, the speaker acknowledges the difficulty of maintaining one's composure and strength in the face of adversity, and suggests that only a select few are capable of doing so. The use of the word "frostiness" is particularly striking, as it suggests a kind of emotional and psychological hardness or resilience that is necessary to survive in a harsh and unforgiving world.

The third stanza of the poem shifts the focus to the recipient's journey, and the challenges that they will face along the way. The lines "No matter if ice / Have left you for a liar still / Keep cold, keep cold" suggest that the recipient may encounter obstacles or setbacks that will test their resolve and their faith in themselves and the world. The repetition of the phrase "keep cold" reinforces the idea that resilience and endurance are key to overcoming these challenges, and that the recipient must remain focused and determined in order to succeed.

The fourth stanza of the poem introduces a note of hope and optimism, with the lines "Chance may have turned / And the luck that led you to the brink / Of the door of a different life." Here, the speaker suggests that the recipient's journey may lead to new opportunities and possibilities, and that they may find themselves on the threshold of a new and exciting phase of their life. The use of the word "chance" suggests that the outcome of the journey is uncertain and unpredictable, but also that there is potential for growth and transformation.

The final stanza of the poem brings the themes of farewell and resilience together, with the lines "Good-bye, and keep cold, / Brace yourself at the braced door-frame / Fasten your belt low down, / And good-bye, and go slow, and come back soon." Here, the speaker offers a final farewell and encouragement to the recipient, urging them to stay strong and focused as they embark on their journey, but also reminding them to take their time and to return safely. The use of the phrase "brace yourself" suggests that the recipient will face challenges and obstacles, but also that they have the strength and resilience to overcome them.

Overall, "Good-bye, and Keep Cold" is a powerful and evocative poem that captures the complex emotions of parting and the enduring power of resilience and hope. Through its use of vivid imagery, striking language, and poignant themes, the poem speaks to readers of all ages and backgrounds, reminding us of the challenges and opportunities that we all face in life, and the importance of staying strong, focused, and hopeful in the face of adversity. As we navigate the uncertainties and complexities of the modern world, the message of this classic poem remains as relevant and inspiring as ever.

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