Tuesday, 22 September 2009

'Two Tramps in Mud Time' – Robert Frost

Over a few drinks in Raglan this weekend, we agreed while smoking cigars and staring out at the sunset that a necessary skill to have on such occasions is to reach into your memory and pull out a poem for recitation.

Or to call on two or three that you’ve committed to memory at some stage.

James K. Baxter’s ‘Lament for Barney Flanagan’ is popular with one friend [for which, head here and scroll down a lot], and Coleridge with another.  Limericks and Irish rebel poetry (and songs) are popular with others. “Grooks” are fun. But the job is to remember them when they’re needed – when you’re two drinks down with more to come, and the sun’s just slipping down over the horizon.

So here’s one I’m resolving to remember: Robert Frost’s 'Two Tramps in Mud Time,' for which this is the last stanza.
...But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.


  1. I learnt a poem at primary school about 45 years ago, and I still remember it word for word today! - Yet it is really difficult to learn a new poem or song today and commit it to memory - Its even difficult remembering ones I have written myself
    How does that work?

  2. How many pints n joints you had in the last 45 years...

  3. That's a great piece that I've never read. And if I remember rightly it was your idea, and we just agreed... sunset, gin, all that. I'm sorting Tennyson's "Ulysses".


1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.