at sea

poem: For Once, Then, Something

-Robert Frost

Others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs
Always wrong to the light, so never seeing
Deeper down in the well then where the water
Gives me back in a shining surface picture
Me myself in the summer heaven, godlike,
Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.
Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,
I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,
Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,
Something more of the depths - and then I lost it.
Water came to rebuke the too clear water.
One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple
Shook whatever it was lay there at the bottom,
Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

Okay, think we're done with the poems about death, at least for a little while. I wanted to share this one because I honestly don't know what to make of it--I'd love to hear your thoughts or observations about what's going on here. That first long sentence (Others taunt me with having knelt ... cloud puffs.) especially baffles me, as it's such a weird thing for anyone to taunt someone over. "Lisa always leans down over wells from the wrong direction so the sunglare keeps her from seeing past the surface of the water--what a loser!" Not exactly the stuff of after school specials.

Posts from This Journal by “poetry” Tag

People who want to pick will find something, I guess... I remember reading a post about how a classmate of the poster had been taunted for having a name that rhymed with paper, or something like that. Not anything you could reasonably anticipate, even if you were trying. So I guess if there were somehow a fashion for trying to see the bottom of wells, kids might pick for looking at your reflection instead,

I initially thought the poem meant they were taunting her about spending her time staring into wells at all (which seems like an unusual hobby to me) and that they were standing so the light was wrong and they couldn't see what she saw and thus the appeal. But for that, there ought to be punctuation after the first line, shouldn't there?

So maybe it's entirely metaphorical, there's no well, and it's all about looking at a positive or beautiful image (of oneself? in general?) instead of into the depths (in whatever form), and almost seeing something else once (does it matter that it was a bright thing?) but who knows whether it was even important.

Or maybe not.