≡ Menu

The Draft Horse by Robert Frost (A poem for this season of American America-Haters)

With a lantern that wouldn’t burn
In too frail a buggy we drove
Behind too heavy a horse
Through a pitch-dark limitless grove.

And a man came out of the trees
And took our horse by the head
And reaching back to his ribs
Deliberately stabbed him dead.

The ponderous beast went down
With a crack of a broken shaft.
And the night drew through the trees
In one long invidious draft.

The most unquestioning pair
That ever accepted fate
And the least disposed to ascribe
Any more than we had to to hate,

We assumed that the man himself
Or someone he had to obey
Wanted us to get down
And walk the rest of the way.

—Robert Frost

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Howard Nelson June 19, 2018, 7:49 PM

    Robert’s frost is too cold, cold, cruel.

  • John A. Fleming June 19, 2018, 11:34 PM

    Dood. The pix and the poem. Just perfect. You’re slaying me.

  • Jaynie June 20, 2018, 4:31 AM

    From ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ to this?
    But then I don’t have the type of mind that can usually understand symbolism in art.
    The piece is jarring on two levels, of course the killing of a horse, the draft horse seems almost oxen-like in stoic passivity. But the stoic passivity with which the couple react to their beast being killed and carriage wrecked competes.
    So the disquieting poem has me searching the internet for some shred of understanding by minds more clever than mine.

  • Missy June 20, 2018, 6:09 AM

    “…too frail a buggy” and “too heavy a horse” is a recipe for disaster in driving any harnessed horse. We “drive” around here on farms, sometimes on roads, and a few drive in competition. While “driving” looks pastoral and charming, I have seen catastrophic accidents, most involving our local Amish and cars, but I never heard of a criminal assault on a harnessed horse. I cannot find any consensus about what this poem means, and the violent and startling facts with unexpected resignation to them puzzles me. Frost wrote it a year before his death. It is the antithesis of “Stopping By The Road…” which is saccharine by comparison.

  • pbird June 20, 2018, 9:25 AM

    Boy, to me it sounds like he is talking about old age and the loss of power, which you never expect.