Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Moose Swims Across A Lake

Thirty or so years ago, I spent a summer living in a cabin on the south shore of an otherwise uninhabited mountain lake in northern Idaho.  The lake was about three-quarters of a mile wide from north to south.  Every so often, a moose would swim across the lake from the north shore, stepping out of the water into the cattails just a few yards away from the cabin.  Then it would slowly walk off into the thick, moss-hung woods.

We never know when an unforgettable memory is about to arrive, do we?

Years later -- to my surprise and delight -- I discovered the following poem by Robert Frost.

                         The Most of It

He thought he kept the universe alone;
For all the voice in answer he could wake
Was but the mocking echo of his own
From some tree-hidden cliff across the lake.
Some morning from the boulder-broken beach
He would cry out on life, that what it wants
Is not its own love back in copy speech,
But counter-love, original response.
And nothing ever came of what he cried
Unless it was the embodiment that crashed
In the cliff's talus on the other side,
And then in the far distant water splashed,
But after a time allowed for it to swim,
Instead of proving human when it neared
And someone else additional to him,
As a great buck it powerfully appeared,
Pushing the crumpled water up ahead,
And landed pouring like a waterfall,
And stumbled through the rocks with horny tread,
And forced the underbrush -- and that was all.

Robert Frost, A Witness Tree (1942).

                             Akseli Gallen Kallela, "Lake Keitele" (1905)


Fred said...

A favorite of mine--thanks for posting it. Time for another session with Frost. It's been awhile.

Stephen Pentz said...

Fred: Thank you for visiting and commenting again. I'm pleased that you like 'The Most of It' as well. As you may have gathered from my recent posts, I have been revisiting Frost after a too-long absence. I always find things that I had forgotten about, or had never noticed before.