Frost’s “Bond and Free”

Although arguably not as good as more famous poems like “The Road Not Taken,” “Birches,” or “Out, Out” in Mountain Interval, “Bond and Free” still manages to intrigue me:


Love has earth to which she clings
With hills and circling arms about–
Wall within wall to shut fear out.
But Thought has need of no such things,
For Thought has a pair of dauntless wings.

On snow and sand and turn, I see
Where Love has left a printed trace
With straining in the world’s embrace.
And such is Love and glad to be
But Thought has shaken his ankles free.

Thought cleaves the interstellar gloom
And sits in Sirius’ disc all night,
Till day makes him retrace his flight
With smell of burning on every plume,
Back past the sun to an earthly room.

His gains in heaven are what they are.
Yet some say Love by being thrall
And simply staying possesses all
In several beauty that Thought fares far
To find fused in another star.

By setting “Love” and “Thought” as opposites, Frost forces us to see both of them, but particularly love, in new ways. He sets up the poem by contrasting what is generally seen as a negative aspect of Love, the fear and clinging, with the positive side of Thought, the fearless exploration of new possibilities. While most readers would not want to think of love as “clinging” because of its negative connotations, in a very real sense all love does hold to one thing, to the object loved, whether person or a place. Thought is not bound to one object; it wanders freely constantly examining new possibilities.

Love must reveal itself in concrete ways, in earthly way. Thought need not be tied to the world. Abstract thought is ethereal, reaching out to places no man has never gone before. Unbound by earthly restraints, it can envision endless joy and passion, though in a avery real sense they are imaginary, not real.

For me, the most interesting line in the poem is “Love by being thrall/ And simply staying possesses all,” with it’s implication that Love is a more powerful moral force than the individual himself. Love binds us to itself, and in doing so brings us a “beauty” that Thought can only observe in others. The ties that bind need not be merely restraints but, rather, links to a new- found source of energy.