Weekend Poem to Consider: ‘Christmas Trees’ by Robert Frost

A man comes from the city to buy Christmas trees from a country farmer so the city-folk can have them for Christmas.  The farmer doesn’t think of his trees as Christmas trees, they are “his woods”, and he doesn’t wish to sell them and leave that place “all bare”.  But there is more to this because he wouldn’t  want the trees to know if he was thinking of selling them. These trees mean something to him; they have value.  The price offered: Thirty dollars for a thousand trees. Really? They are more valuable than that! Not only to him, but to the city-folk as well who would pay dollars for what he is offered cents for. However, “his woods” have now become ‘Christmas Trees’ and although he has no desire to sell his trees at such a price, he is willing to give one away freely in wishing Merry Christmas!

So sweet; I love this poem!  This was written in 1916 in his third collection of poetry titled Mountain Interval . Frost was well on his way to earning his first Pulitzer, but not quite yet, that will come with his next book. This poem was written as a “Christmas circular letter” most likely for friends and fans.  Enjoy!

Christmas Trees

by Robert Frost

(A Christmas Circular Letter)

The city had withdrawn into itself
And left at last the country to the country;
When between whirls of snow not come to lie
And whirls of foliage not yet laid, there drove
A stranger to our yard, who looked the city,
Yet did in country fashion in that there
He sat and waited till he drew us out
A-buttoning coats to ask him who he was.
He proved to be the city come again
To look for something it had left behind
And could not do without and keep its Christmas.
He asked if I would sell my Christmas trees;
My woods—the young fir balsams like a place
Where houses all are churches and have spires.
I hadn’t thought of them as Christmas Trees.
I doubt if I was tempted for a moment
To sell them off their feet to go in cars
And leave the slope behind the house all bare,
Where the sun shines now no warmer than the moon.
I’d hate to have them know it if I was.
Yet more I’d hate to hold my trees except
As others hold theirs or refuse for them,
Beyond the time of profitable growth,
The trial by market everything must come to.
I dallied so much with the thought of selling.
Then whether from mistaken courtesy
And fear of seeming short of speech, or whether
From hope of hearing good of what was mine, I said,
“There aren’t enough to be worth while.”
“I could soon tell how many they would cut,
You let me look them over.”
                                                     “You could look.
But don’t expect I’m going to let you have them.”
Pasture they spring in, some in clumps too close
That lop each other of boughs, but not a few
Quite solitary and having equal boughs
All round and round. The latter he nodded “Yes” to,
Or paused to say beneath some lovelier one,
With a buyer’s moderation, “That would do.”
I thought so too, but wasn’t there to say so.
We climbed the pasture on the south, crossed over,
And came down on the north. He said, “A thousand.”
“A thousand Christmas trees!—at what apiece?”
He felt some need of softening that to me:
“A thousand trees would come to thirty dollars.”
Then I was certain I had never meant
To let him have them. Never show surprise!
But thirty dollars seemed so small beside
The extent of pasture I should strip, three cents
(For that was all they figured out apiece),
Three cents so small beside the dollar friends
I should be writing to within the hour
Would pay in cities for good trees like those,
Regular vestry-trees whole Sunday Schools
Could hang enough on to pick off enough.
A thousand Christmas trees I didn’t know I had!
Worth three cents more to give away than sell,
As may be shown by a simple calculation.
Too bad I couldn’t lay one in a letter.
I can’t help wishing I could send you one,
In wishing you herewith a Merry Christmas.

 

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3 thoughts on “Weekend Poem to Consider: ‘Christmas Trees’ by Robert Frost

  1. Interesting how such a chance encounter with a stranger in a real life situation can change ones appreciation for what one already has. And in turn make us think of a yet undiscovered way of blessing those around us with the Gift of Christmas cheer and love. Excellent

    Liked by 1 person

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