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.