Sunday, March 22, 2015


Robert Frost
(1874 - 1963)
Photo by Walter Albertin

The concept of hope is usually reserved for the future.  As Robert Frost and David Ray's poem remind us, however, it may be that a more pressing question is whether there is hope for one's past — all of the actions, decisions, and indecisions that undergird what one has become.

                                                 Thanks, Robert Frost
                                                         by David Ray

                                Do you have hope for the future?
                                someone asked Robert Frost, toward the end.
                                Yes, and even for the past, he replied,
                                that it will turn out to have been all right
                                for what it was, something we can accept,
                                mistakes made by the selves we had to be,
                                not able to be, perhaps, what we wished,
                                or what looking back half the time it seems
                                we could so easily have been, or ought . . .
                                The future, yes, and even for the past,
                                that it will become something we can bear.
                                And I too, and my children, so I hope,
                                will recall as not too heavy the tug
                                of those albatrosses I sadly placed
                                upon their tender necks.  Hope for the past,
                                yes, old Frost, your words provide that courage,
                                and it brings strange peace that itself passes
                                into past, easier to bear because
                                you said it, rather casually, as snow
                                went on falling in Vermont years ago.

Credit:  David Ray's poem, "Thanks, Robert Frost," is published in Music of Time: Selected and New Poems (The Blackwater Press, 2006).  Thanks also to Parker J. Palmer's column, Meaning Changes As Life Unfolds, published March 18, 2015, on Krista Tippett's excellent site, "On Being".