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The Exposed Nest
by Robert Frost

Robert Frost's books include A Boy's Will in 1913, North of Boston in 1914, Mountain Interval in 1916, New Hampshire in 1923 (for which Frost was awarded his first Pulitzer Prize), West-Running Brook in 1928, A Further Range in 1936 (giving Frost a third Pulitzer), A Witness Tree in 1942 (becoming the first person to receive the Prize four times), A Masque of Reason in 1945, Steeple Bush in 1947, A Masque of Mercy in 1947, and In the Clearing in 1962.

Additionally, his publishers released numerous anthologies and collections, including Selected Poems (New York: Henry Holt, 1923), Selected Poems (New York: Henry Holt, 1928), Collected Poems (New York: Henry Holt, 1930, which results in second Pulitzer in 1931), Selected Poems (New York: Henry Holt, 1934), Selected Poems (London: Jonathan Cape, 1936), Collected Poems (New York: Henry Holt, 1939), The Poems (New York: Modern Library, 1946), Complete Poems (New York: Henry Holt, 1949), Aforesaid (New York: Henry Holt, 1954), Selected Poems (London: Penguin Books, 1955), and Selected Poems (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963).

Robert Frost's earliest work is now in the public domain, but all of his latter work remains under copyright protection and cannot be reproduced with permission.


1916 Mountain Interval
The Exposed Nest
by Robert Frost

You were forever finding some new play.
So when I saw you down on hands and knees
In the meadow, busy with the new-cut hay,
Trying, I thought, to set it up on end,
I went to show you how to make it stay,
If that was your idea, against the breeze,
And, if you asked me, even help pretend
To make it root again and grow afresh.
But 'twas no make-believe with you to-day,
Nor was the grass itself your real concern,
Though I found your hand full of wilted fern,
Steel-bright June-grass, and blackening heads of clover.
'Twas a nest full of young birds on the ground
The cutter-bar had just gone champing over
(Miraculously without tasting flesh)
And left defenseless to the heat and light.
You wanted to restore them to their right
Of something interposed between their sight
And too much world at once-could means be found.
The way the nest-full every time we stirred
Stood up to us as to a mother-bird
Whose coming home has been too long deferred,
Made me ask would the mother-bird return
And care for them in such a change of scene
And might our meddling make her more afraid.
That was a thing we could not wait to learn.
We saw the risk we took in doing good,
But dared not spare to do the best we could
Though harm should come of it; so built the screen
You had begun, and gave them back their shade.
All this to prove we cared. Why is there then
No more to tell? We turned to other things.
I haven't any memory-have you?-
Of ever coming to the place again
To see if the birds lived the first night through,
And so at last to learn to use their wings.


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