Frost Nails Masochism

Young woman lying on forest floor, palms up
Image: DavidR (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Poor Robert Frost would be turning over in his grave. He probably wasn’t writing about masochism.

And yet he said it for us. How the good stuff makes you feel real and alive and more.

To Earthward

Love at the lips was touch
As sweet as I could bear;
And once that seemed too much;
I lived on air

That crossed me from sweet things,
The flow of – was it musk
From hidden grapevine springs
Downhill at dusk?

I had the swirl and ache
From sprays of honeysuckle
That when they’re gathered shake
Dew on the knuckle.

I craved strong sweets, but those
Seemed strong when I was young;
The petal of the rose
It was that stung.

Now no joy but lacks salt,
That is not dashed with pain
And weariness and fault;
I crave the stain

Of tears, the aftermark
Of almost too much love,
The sweet of bitter bark
And burning clove.

When stiff and sore and scarred
I take away my hand
From leaning on it hard
In grass and sand,

The hurt is not enough:
I long for weight and strength
To feel the earth as rough
To all my length.

To speculate on what Frost was really writing about, I imagine he was trying to make sensual sound macho. This was uphill work at the time. There is a wonderful story about how he told a businessman on a train that he wrote poetry, and the businessman said unhappily, “Hell. My wife writes that stuff.”

What do you think?