Frost’s “Unharvested”

Although there seems to be much of Frost’s philosophy that I would have a hard time agreeing with, I’m certainly in tune with his attitude toward nature, particularly as seen in:


A scent of ripeness from over a wall.
And come to leave the routine road
And look for what has made me stall,
There sure enough was an apple tree
That had eased itself of its summer load,
And of all but its trivial foliage free,
Now breathed as light as a lady’s fan.
For there had been an apple fall
As complete as the apple had given man.
The ground was one circle of solid red.

May something go always unharvested!
May much stay out of our stated plan,
Apples or something forgotten and left,
So smelling their sweetness would be no theft.

Surprisingly enough, I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way about a tree left unharvested until I read this poem. In the past, I’ve always seen fruit left on the tree as a waste, either that someone had so much that they didn’t need the food and didn’t want to share it with others or that someone was simply too lazy to harvest.

Still, I’ve always made it a point to leave part of my strawberry, raspberry, blackberry and blueberry crop for the birds, as part of my dues to an ecosystem that makes my life so fruitful. There’s no denying that such fruit is an essential part of our ecosystem, particularly as more and more land is consumed for man’s use and taken out of the natural system.

More importantly, though, I truly hope that “may much stay out of our stated plan.” I’ve always valued the unknown, the unexpected, in life. (Well, except for that divorce and my throat cancer.) Still, I’ve always loved the saying that life is what happens while you’re planning your life. Even as an INTP, I think that life would be pretty damn boring if “all went as planned.”

It’s hard to imagine greater proof of man’s fallibility than the results of his attempts to “manage” nature, and the too often unexpected results of such management. Even when planners resort to “natural” solutions, too often they end up with a new problem, one that often dwarfs the original problem. Still, left alone, nature can usually heal even man’s worst insults, given enough time.