'For Once, Then, Something' by Robert Frost
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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.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Poetry that Digs Deep: "For Once, Then, Something" by Robert Frost
When it comes to Robert Frost, the first thing that comes to mind might be his famous poem "The Road Not Taken." But today, I want to delve deeper into another one of his poems that has always struck a chord with me: "For Once, Then, Something." This poem may not be as well-known as some of Frost's other works, but it has a depth and complexity that warrants closer examination.
Let's start by looking at the setting of the poem. The first two lines set the scene: "Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curb / Supposedly to get water." The speaker is being mocked by others for doing something that seems mundane and ordinary. But as we read on, we realize that there is more going on here than meets the eye.
The next two lines add to the sense of mystery: "But I know better, / It was to dry one's feet." Why would someone kneel at a well-curb to dry their feet? Is the speaker trying to hide something? Or is there a deeper symbolism at play here?
The Water and the Moon
As the poem continues, we see that water and the moon play a significant role in the imagery. The speaker describes the well-curb as "a place of sycamores" and "the moon was coming out of the ground." Later in the poem, he says that "water from the pump / Runs cooler than the rain."
What is the significance of all this water imagery? Water is often associated with cleansing and purification. It could be that the speaker is trying to wash away something that is troubling him. But why is he doing this at a well-curb, rather than somewhere else?
The moon, too, has many symbolic meanings. It could represent enlightenment or spiritual awakening. In this poem, the moon seems to be rising up out of the ground, which could suggest something hidden or buried that is now coming to light.
As we near the end of the poem, the speaker has a sudden realization: "I looked and saw water-drops / Falling, like silver, from shiny-leaved sycamores." This moment of epiphany is the climax of the poem. The speaker has been struggling with something, and now he suddenly understands it.
But what is it that he understands? The final lines of the poem give us a clue: "And all the air was filled with little tunes, / Like echoes loosed from them [the sycamores]."
It's as if the speaker has suddenly become attuned to the world around him. The water-drops and the music of the trees are all part of a larger harmony that he has been blind to until now. This realization is a moment of profound spiritual awakening.
"For Once, Then, Something" is a poem that rewards close reading and analysis. At first glance, it may seem like a simple description of a man drying his feet at a well-curb. But as we dig deeper, we see that there is much more going on here. Water, the moon, and music all have symbolic meanings that contribute to the overall message of the poem.
Ultimately, "For Once, Then, Something" is a poem about epiphany and spiritual awakening. It reminds us that even the most mundane moments of our lives can contain hidden depths and profound truths. As we go about our daily routines, we should remain open to the possibility of sudden revelations and moments of clarity. For as Robert Frost reminds us, "always the beautiful answer / who asks a more beautiful question."
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry is an art form that has the power to evoke emotions, stir the soul, and inspire the mind. Robert Frost, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, was a master of this craft. His poem, "For Once, Then, Something," is a perfect example of his ability to capture the essence of life in a few simple words.
The poem begins with the speaker describing a moment of clarity that he experienced while walking through the woods. He says, "Others taunt 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."
This opening stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem. The speaker is reflecting on his past mistakes and how they have prevented him from seeing the world in a deeper way. He has been too focused on the surface of things, never taking the time to look deeper into the well of life.
The second stanza continues this theme, with the speaker saying, "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."
Here, the speaker is describing a moment when he saw something beyond the surface of the well. He saw a glimpse of something deeper, something more profound, but he lost it before he could fully understand what it was.
The third stanza is where the poem really starts to shine. The speaker says, "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."
This stanza is the heart of the poem. The speaker is describing how a single drop of water disrupted the surface of the well, blurring and obscuring whatever lay beneath. He questions what he saw, wondering if it was the truth or just a pebble of quartz. But then he says, "For once, then, something." This line is the turning point of the poem. The speaker has finally seen something beyond the surface, something that has the potential to change his life.
The fourth and final stanza brings the poem to a close. The speaker says, "And I came to believe them true, / And all you have to do is to believe them, / And you too will be free." Here, the speaker is saying that he believes in the power of these moments of clarity, and that all you have to do is believe in them to be free.
The poem is a meditation on the power of perception and the importance of looking beyond the surface of things. It is a reminder that there is always something deeper to be discovered, if we are willing to look for it. The poem is also a testament to the power of poetry itself, and how it can capture the essence of life in a few simple words.
In terms of form, the poem is written in four quatrains, with a rhyme scheme of ABAB. The language is simple and straightforward, but the imagery is powerful. Frost uses the image of the well to represent the surface of life, and the drop of water to represent the moments of clarity that can disrupt that surface.
Overall, "For Once, Then, Something" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that reminds us of the importance of looking beyond the surface of things. It is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the essence of life in a few simple words, and a reminder that there is always something deeper to be discovered, if we are willing to look for it.
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