The Cow in Apple Time. Mountain Interval. 1920

Something inspires the only cow of late
To make no more of a wall than an open gate,
And think no more of wall-builders than fools.
Her face is flecked with pomace and she drools
A cider syrup. Having tasted fruit,
She scores a pasture withering to the root.
She runs from tree to tree where lie and sweeten
The windfalls spiked with stubble and worm-eaten.
She leaves them bitten when she has to fly.
She bellows on a knoll against the sky.
Her udder shrivels and the milk goes dry.

A delightfully comical poem about a cow drunk on apple cider that crashes into walls not seeing them in her inebriated state.

Having tasted fallen apples she no longer desires grass. She fills herself with apples till she reaches a high – ‘when she has to fly’. By thus going against her grain the cow has to bear the consequences too – her milk goes dry.

The poem is based on Frosts’ experience as a farmer. It may indicate that too much fun is bad. It may suggest self regulation. But the most perceptible emotion is that of joyful amusement. Frost seems to be looking at the scene like a fond parent watching an errant child gone unruly. He’s waiting for the cow to learn her lesson without him trying to stop or punish it. Clearly, it’s the poet not the farmer speaking here.

Of Walls

Again as in the famous poem Mending Wall, Frost talks of the futility of walls. Although here he puts it more lightly, a drunken cow who thinks ‘no more of wall-builders than fools’. Clearly he detests man made boundaries, limitations. See also, Mending Wall.

Of Something

Frost attributes a lot to ‘something’. I can think of at least two more poems now that attribute ‘workings’ or ‘elements’ in nature to ‘something’.

Mending Wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it

For Once, Then, Something

…What was that whiteness?
Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.

This ‘something’ is mystical, illusive, belonging to the realms of poetry. It is not fact or scientific truth that can be understood and explained. It comes from his imagination – so it is not fixed or rigid. It can be anything that anyone imagines. It offers him the freedom to dream and believe many things. Elves? Truth? Quartz? He throws all options at the readers. The choice is yours.

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