Saturday, August 25, 2012

illustration friday (tall)

This etegami was inspired by The Tuft of Flowers, an early poem by Robert Frost. Like so many of my favorite Frost poems, it speaks of loneliness. But the second half of the poem refutes that loneliness, as the speaker (whose task is to toss the mowed grass) finds comfort in evidence of shared sensibilities and values with someone (the mower) who has left the scene. It is a long poem, so I'll just paste the second half here:

I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.

But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,—alone,

As all must be,' I said within my heart,
Whether they work together or apart.'

But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a 'wildered butterfly,

Seeking with memories grown dim o'er night
Some resting flower of yesterday's delight.

And once I marked his flight go round and round,
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.

And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.

I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;

But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,

A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.

I left my place to know them by their name,
Finding them butterfly weed when I came.

The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,

Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.

The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,

That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,

And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;

But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;

And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.

Men work together,' I told him from the heart,
   Whether they work together or apart.'

by Robert Frost


  1. Lovely etegami, a colourful burst of blooms, thanks for posting the whole poem too!

  2. I love this. I love all of our work, but this speaks to me. Thank you.

  3. Love the piece-- I'm a fan of butterfly weed as well as Frost, though I don't actually remember encountering this poem. How apt it is to the way we artists connect, despite working alone in our studios, by way of shared interests discovered via internet! I wonder what Frost would have made of that. :-}

    1. My first reaction was "this is just how it is for translators!" But, you're right, Artists, Writers, and many other people work in isolation, and it's comforting to recognize that we're working alongside others whether we can see them or not.