Asking For Roses

Robert Frost once wrote, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” These words are a profound testament to his courage for living.

Robert Frost went on when, at age eleven, he lost his father to tuberculosis. He went on when his mother succumbed to cancer at the young age of twenty-six. He went on when his younger sister died in a mental hospital. He went on when his wife, Elinor, suffered from cancer then died due to heart failure. He went on when he outlived four of the six children he fathered with Elinor.

Robert Frost gave us his gift of poetry. His words comfort and challenge, prompting us to seek a deeper understanding of how to live in a world that is in a state of constant change.

Recognized as one of the most popular 20th century poets, Robert Frost’s poetry includes themes of mortality and the human condition. His poetry captures his commitment to the arts and naturalism, and embodies his love for our world.

Robert Frost was the first poet to address a US Presidential Inauguration. He is one of only four individuals to have won four Pulitzer prizes for his poetry collections in 1924,1931,1937, and 1943.

Tonight I want to share Robert Frost’s poem, Asking for Roses. I invite you to recite along with me.


Asking for Roses by Robert Frost


A house that lacks, seemingly, mistress and master,
With doors that none but the wind ever closes,
Its floor all littered with glass and with plaster;
It stands in a garden of old-fashioned roses.

I pass by that way in the gloaming with Mary;
‘I wonder,’ I say, ‘who the owner of those is.
‘Oh, no one you know,’ she answers me airy,
‘But one we must ask if we want any roses.’

So we must join hands in the dew coming coldly
There in the hush of the wood that reposes,
And turn and go up to the open door boldly,
And knock to the echoes as beggars for roses.

‘Pray, are you within there, Mistress Who-were-you?’
’Tis Mary that speaks and our errand discloses.
‘Pray, are you within there? Bestir you, bestir you!
’Tis summer again; there’s two come for roses.

‘A word with you, that of the singer recalling—
Old Herrick: a saying that every maid knows is
A flower unplucked is but left to the falling,
And nothing is gained by not gathering roses.’

We do not loosen our hands’ intertwining
(Not caring so very much what she supposes),
There when she comes on us mistily shining
And grants us by silence the boon of her roses.

69 Thoughts

    1. You are very kind, Jean-Jacques. Thank you for your encouragement and support of my poetry journey. I found these roses walking in a busy back lane, far away from the picturesque scene of a vacant cottage surrounded by roses. The roses were in their prime and beckoned me closer. There, with garbage cans on either side, the roses gave their best to passersby. Such a gracious plant, giving without asking for anything in return.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Robbie. I find that reading poetry in the evening has been a helpful meditative practice over the years, especially on Sunday evenings before heading into Monday’s rush. By the way, I am now the proud owner of your book of poetry, Robbie: Behind Closed Doors. Outliving you children is very very sad, indeed!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Polly for your heartwarming comments! A few years ago I started to recite poems to an empty room. The words came alive to me, jumping from wall to wall and encircling me with their profound messages. Then I went out to nature and recited poetry to the trees and crows. There is something about reading out loud, to hearing others read their poetry. Poetry builds strength and resilience!!!

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Absolutely lovely Rebecca and amazing how Robert Frost created beauty despite all the pain he must have experienced. Perhaps the pain does allow more of the appreciation of beauty.. I love roses and all flowers and cannot bear to see the outside of a house without them… My pots give me a reason to be outside looking after them most days.. very therapeutic..♥♥

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Sally, for your lovely comments – made my day. I agree gardens, flowers, trees are therapeutic and seem to disengage us from the complexities of life, helping us see that simply being is enough. I also see a connection between creative endeavours and being close to nature. I love our conversations!!! Sending hugs and more hugs!

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I didn’t know his background until my sister, Sarah, and I were discussing the poetry of Robert Frost. What you will find interesting is that by 1911 when Robert Frost was close to 40, he was discouraged. He had not published a single book of poems and had seen just a handful of his poems appear in magazines. He sold his farm and travelled to London, England to see if English publishers would be more receptive to his poetry. They were! Robert Frost worked hard and helped by the expatriate American poet Ezra Pound, within a year (1913) had published A Boy’s Will. And the rest is history. Why didn’t the American publishers see his potential? A very interesting thought….

      Liked by 5 people

      1. That is very interesting. I think I had read somewhere that he never had success early but I had no idea of all he went through in life, or that he came to London to get anywhere with his work. I wonder if styles of poetry are more appealing in one country than another. I mean i honestly thought he was English rather than American. He seems the fit for over here tin some ways.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. A wonderful Robert Frost poem, and you recited it beautifully amid gorgeous imagery, Rebecca. I didn’t realize Frost had suffered so much devastating tragedy during a life that gifted the world with so much memorable poetry.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Sarah and I were discussing Robert Frost’s poetry several months ago and decided to view his biography. How could he write so eloquently of profound moments, events and yet speak so clearly without any false sentimentality. His life was not for the faint of heart and yet there was no hint of regret in his poetry. This is the poem that I would like to recite, but I confess that am intimidated.

      “Some say the world will end in fire,
      Some say in ice.
      From what I’ve tasted of desire,
      I hold with those who favor fire.
      But if it had to perish twice
      I think I know enough of hate
      To say that for destruction ice
      Is also great
      And would suffice.”

      Liked by 3 people

    1. I am so pleased that you listened in, Marina. Thank you for you heartwarming comments which will begin my week with an exuberant lift. Thinking of you especially in the heat. This has been a most unusual summer. Sending many many hugs back your way.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. A great poem! Honestly, when I think of him, it will remind me of one of the Simon&Garfunkel: The Dangling Conversation…
    And you read your Emily Dickinson
    And I my Robert Frost
    And we note our place with bookmarkers
    That measures what we’ve lost

    Liked by 3 people

    1. An excellent thought Aladin!

      “Yes, we speak of things that matter
      With words that must be said
      “Can analysis be worthwhile?”
      “Is the theater really dead?”

      Thank you for joining the conversation!!!

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Paul – your encouragement is always very much welcomed and appreciated. Robert Frost has touched the hearts of many who have experienced sorrow. And, in our existence, there is always a thread of sorrow and grief. Perhaps it is the depths of these emotions that allows us to recognize the beauty and fragility of life. Robert Frost says it better than I can: “A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.”

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Beautiful poem, video and recitation. So much Beauty is there for the taking if we but only ask. I can’t imagine Frost’s sorrows but have little doubt he must have wrestled against and for hope.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. How very well said, Mary Jo – “beauty is there for the taking but it we but only ask.” These roses were located in the most inauspicious place, between garbage cans on an back alley. The bloomed despite their location and maybe because of their location that gave so much more. I was walking quickly to meet up with Don and Frances and had no intention of stopping. And then, the roses were there, masses of them. I never asked for roses that day, but the roses found me, a reminder that beauty is always around us. Sending many hugs.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Robert Frost is a favorite poet of mine – being from New England I know many of his poems.This one is new to me and I think it’s charming and dreamy!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I had never heard of “Asking for Roses” until I received a e-mail form The Academy of American Poets. I subscribe to their Poem-a-Day newsletter. Poetry is a great way to begin and end my day. Thank you for stopping by and reciting the poem with me, Meg. Very much appreciated!

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for joining Robert Frost and me among the roses. I appreciate your kind and encouraging comments. I love reciting poetry out loud. The words become real, tangible, igniting creative thought.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you, Rebecca for this poem, so full of beauty and wisdom. Your lovely video of roses is delightful. I remember you and Sarah’s discussion and it is so good when sisters have many of the same interests. I have read some of the many comments, and was glad to see the interest that your selection of this poem created in many. I have reflected on the life’s experiences of this poet, and am impressed by his courage and positive response. Truly a beautiful poem and your beautiful reading of it makes it easy to recall.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Dear Ms. Frances – I love reciting Robert Frost’s poetry. Best of all, there are so many wonderful poems I have yet to discover. I enjoyed Sarah’s and my conversation on Robert Frost’s poetry. She has a marvelous way of expressing her thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The idea of a young couple approaching an abandoned home that had once been vibrant with people living within its walls was a profound contrast for me. Only the flowers remained to remember the voices, laughter, tears of the past. Thank you so much for stopping by and smelling the roses! Hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Diana for joining Robert and me by a rose bush in a back lane. I agree – when we experience such tragedies, something is unlocked deep inside us. When I read poetry, there are times I simply stop because the emotions held in the words is too powerful. Sending hugs!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I love poetry that resonates and evokes emotion. What’s so interesting to me is it can do that without being explicit. My favorite poets describe an ordinary scene and all of a sudden I can’t breathe.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I know exactly what you mean. You reminded me of one of my favourite quotes by Collette : (and you know I love quotes). “It’s so curious: one can resist tears and ‘behave’ very well in the hardest hours of grief. But then someone makes you a friendly sign behind a window, or one notices that a flower that was in bud only yesterday has suddenly blossomed, or a letter slips from a drawer… and everything collapses.”

        Liked by 3 people

  7. I read about Robert Frost’s life. It touched me. There were so many insights, reflections, and subtle emotions behind his written words. Your voice brought his poem to life. Thank you for reading, Rebecca! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am so happy you joined Robert and me in a North Vancouver back lane surrounded by the sounds of a busy street. Isn’t it interesting that when you are in the most complex of circumstances, the sight of roses gives respite and set the world back in order. Sending hugs back!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You are too kind, Carolyn. Thank you for your support, encouragement and presence in our blogging community. Robert Frost knows how to reach deep into our hearts and remind us to live boldly, with purpose and compassion. Sending many hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

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