Going for Water. Collection – A Boy’s Will. 1915

The well was dry beside the door,
And so we went with pail and can 
Across the fields behind the house 
To seek the brook if still it ran;

Not loth to have excuse to go,  
Because the autumn eve was fair
(Though chill), because the fields were ours, 
And by the brook our woods were there.

We ran as if to meet the moon
That slowly dawned behind the trees,
The barren boughs without the leaves, 
Without the birds, without the breeze.

But once within the wood, we paused
Like gnomes that hid us from the moon,
Ready to run to hiding new        
With laughter when she found us soon.

Each laid on other a staying hand
To listen ere we dared to look,
And in the hush we joined to make
We heard, we knew we heard the brook.

A note as from a single place,
A slender tinkling fall that made
Now drops that floated on the pool
Like pearls, and now a silver blade.

A pastoral poem that captures the poet’s delight in simple farm chores and the opportunity it provides him to enjoy nature’s beautiful sights.

As the couple ventures out in the beautiful autumn evening, there is happiness in the ‘togetherness’. When there is love in the heart everything seems beautiful, all jobs seem light. They are going out to see if the brook across the fields, behind the house, is running still. They love the trip because they know that everything belongs to them:

…because the fields were ours,
And by the brook our woods were there.

The hope and happiness in their hearts can be gauged from the line, We ran as if to meet the moon. When a person is happy and light hearted, even the impossible seems possible. He writes of ‘laughter’ and ‘Each laid on other a staying hand’ – all word pictures of togetherness.

Though a chore, the task is no burden but an opportunity to get away from the mundane routine. The search for the brook is the search of adventure in the ordinary ‘goings on’ in life.

Love and a Season

The Autumn evening is ‘chill’ and:

The barren boughs without the leaves, Without the birds, without the breeze.

Yet being together on a spontaneous adventure seems to make everything appear beautiful to the poet. The moon is rising from behind the trees in the wood. The wood is dark but slowly filling up with moonlight. Frost expresses similar emotions in another poem, The Pasture, also written in around the same time.


The poem is pure joy to the senses – eyes and ears. Though it’s the moon that occasionally hides behind clouds, it is imagined that it is the couple who are hiding from the moon – like gnomes. Once the moon spots them, laughing like children they run to find new hiding places.

While playing thus, they have not forgotten what they have come for. The awareness of the physical world is not lost in the imaginary games. The practical purposes of life are never lost sight of. So even while the imaginary games are being enjoyed, that is, the hearts contentment is sought, the practical aspects of life are not forgotten. The balance between the heart’s desires and the fulfillment of life’s purpose is maintained.

After all the fun and adventure, the physical task is fulfilled leading to enhanced pleasure. I think, in sum, it will be appropriate to say that, reality looked at with a fair measure of dreams and imagination renders more joy.

The sight and sound imagery of the last paragraph is a picture to behold:

A note as from a single place,
A slender tinkling fail that made
Now drops that floated on the pool
Like pearls, and now a silver blade.

The Poem in prose

It is an autumn evening when the well beside their door has dried and the couple goes out behind the house through the fields and the woods to find out if the brook there is still running. They go out with a pail and a can. They are not unwilling to go because they feel the affinity with everything – the fields and the woods which belong to them.

They are running as if to meet the moon that is slowly rising behind the Autumn landscape – bare, leaf-less, bird-less. But once they are inside the woods they seem to be playing hide-and-seek with the moon, like gnomes would. Hiding behind trees and running for cover as the moon discovers them – laughing like children.

Suddenly, they hear the clear sound of the brook mingled with their sounds and they instinctively lay a hand on each other to hush and draw the other’s attention to it. They hear the sound like a single musical note – a thin flow sometimes like pearls floating over the pool and sometimes flowing like a silver blade.

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