Was Oscar Wilde the only “non-religious” poet to ponder the wonder of God?
Come with me and we’ll penetrate the ocean of Frost:
The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,
The cliff in being backed by continent;
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God's last 'Put out the Light' was spoken.
– Robert Frost,
“Once By the Pacific” from West-Running Brook, 1928
I've never read a commentator who claimed Frost might have been talking about anything other than the approach of a storm over the ocean. Frost himself was always silent on the subject. When asked, “What were you trying to say when you wrote such-and-such a poem?” his response never changed.
“What did it mean to you?”
When the questioner had answered Frost's question, he'd smile and reply, “That's exactly what I was trying to say.”
Are we to assume from his answer that he had no purpose, no motive, no inspiration?
Having read Frost diligently for the past 36 years, I believe I've penetrated the mind of Frost in this one, specific instance. The clue is in the final line.
What can “God's last 'Put out the Light'” possibly mean, except the end of the world? And don't forget that other cryptic line, “and not only a night, an age.”
With those mysteries in mind, return to the beginning of the poem and read it in the light of the first 9 verses of the first chapter of the Bible's opening book:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” – Genesis 1:1-9
This is the moment, my friend, when Frost's poem begins.
Hidden among the poem's 14 lines are the past, present and future of our planet and all that it contains.
The poem ends with “the end of the age,” the end of this world.
Go back and read it again.
Roy H. Williams
How can I be sure Robert Frost contemplated the end of the world?