Frost Themes - Let That Squirrel Loose

These four poems all have something to say about letting go.

Nothing Gold Can Stay states nature's obvious rule:
    “Nature's first green is gold,
    Her hardest hue to hold.
    Her early leaf's a flower;
    But only so an hour.
    Then leaf subsides to leaf.
    So Eden sank to grief,
    So dawn goes down to day.
    Nothing gold can stay.”
Reluctance deals with man's response:
“Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?”
Is frost praising or criticizing man's unyielding nature? Compare this ambiguous position with the Chuang Tzu experience, which is to go “with the drift of things” or else be prepared to be made fun of swiftly.

Wild Grapes suggests a distinction between letting go with the “mind” and letting go with the “heart”:
“I had not learned to let go with the hands,
As still I have not learned to with the heart,
And have no wish to with the heart—nor need,
That I can see. The mind—is not the heart.
I may yet live, as I know others live,
To wish in vain to let go with the mind—
Of cares, at night, to sleep; but nothing tells me
That I need learn to let go with the heart.”
But who can let go with the mind but not the heart? Is there really a distinction or is this just like three in the morning? My position is that you should strive to let go with both the mind and heart. But it should not be easy to do so. I would not feel safe around someone in whom letting go comes easy. “And they, since they were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.” And I would not feel free around someone who could never let go. I certainly wouldn't want to give them my beeper number. I suppose I'm looking for an aspiring but unsuccessful taoist, and maybe I've found him already in the dead but living Robert Frost. When I am in the mood, he is always there for me, and when I'm busy, he never calls.

A Time To Talk turns the discussion inward and examines the notion of letting go in terms of one's own goal-directed behavior (i.e. work):
“When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.”
One could counter that Frost is asking too much. How could we get anything done if we didn't screen our calls and make up excuses not to go to parties? If we didn't keep charity in its proper place. Anyway, the idea is that you can let go of your work just as you can "let go with the hands" or let go of "nature's first green."

Robert Frost       Poetry