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Robert Frost's "A Prayer in Spring"

Robert Frost remains America's most noted and beloved poet. His classic works are widely anthologized and studied in the nation's schools.

Introduction and Text of “A Prayer in Spring”

Robert Frost's delightful little prayer poem, "A Prayer in Spring," is spoken in four stanzas, each composed of two rimed couplets. As the speaker prays to the Divine Beloved, he is also inviting his audience to become as delighted in "the springing of the year” as they do in the later harvest which happens in autumn—two seasons away from spring.

(Please note: The spelling, "rhyme," was introduced into English by Dr. Samuel Johnson through an etymological error. For my explanation for using only the original form, please see "Rime vs Rhyme: An Unfortunate Error.")

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

Reading of "A Prayer in Spring"

Commentary

In a tone of meditative delight, the speaker in Frost's "A Prayer in Spring" is offering an uncomplicated prayer to the Blessed Creator, focusing on love and gratitude that is traditionally on display during the season of Thanksgiving.

First Stanza: Addressing the Divine Belovèd

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

The speaker is addressing the All-Mighty Lord, requesting that the speaker and his fellow neighbors be afforded the foresight and the ability to appreciate the current season's qualities. The speaker requests that they all might be able to take "pleasure in the flowers to-day." Additionally, he suggests that they refrain from putting their thoughts only on the coming "uncertain harvest."

As the farmers begin their spring planting and cultivation, they would naturally be looking forward to the ripe results with its benefits of food and money. The speaker, however, is urging them to contemplate with enjoyment the season dedicated to planting and tending. After all, it is the season of new birth, a time when they begin their valuable work, and then continue that work of cultivation that later will results in the fine, necessary, and, hopefully, abundant harvest.

By calling the harvest "uncertain," the speaker lays his emphasis on the very much needed ability to live in the moment, instead of constantly looking to the future for enjoyment. Constantly looking ahead to future possibilities, the human being loses the beauty of the current activities, and then there is the possibility of being disappointed in the future if the harvest does not result in all that quality produce.

Second Stanza: A Quest for Happiness

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

The speaker then dramatizes the qualities of spring that usually supply enjoyment as they happen: "the orchard white" refers to the budding flowers that will later provide the ripe fruit they will gather in fall. However, the speaker wishes that his audience of fellow farmesr will appreciate the beauty of those blooms now so they may take pleasure in them, even during the night time when they appear like "ghosts."

The speaker also requests from the Lord that the speaker and his fellow farmers be able to experience happiness with "the happy bees" that perform the important task of buzzing the blooms of the orchards, spreading the pollen that fosters the continued growth of fruit. The speaker seeks from the Creator that the Divine may endow his fellows with these appreciative attitudes with powers of observation, which likely he seldom sees in them.

Third Stanza: Observing and Appreciating Delight

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

The speaker prays for them all to be "happy in the darting bird": a humming bird that seems to move like a "meteor" as it "thrusts in with needle bill, / And off a blossom in mid air stands still."

Because the speaker has felt such delight in observing those sights, he is seeking assistance from the Lord to encourage his compatriots of relatives, neighbors, and friends to have to ability to discern joy and experience pleasure that those natural spring time delights offer.

Fourth Stanza: The Love of Nature

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

Finally, the speaker puts forth his reason for requesting of the Divine that He tap the minds and even the hearts of his fellows: this speaker firmly believes that "this is love and nothing else is love."

The speaker feels strongly that there are many aspects of life that are not understood well by the human heart and mind, which means they simply have to be left only to God. However, the simple pleasures of spring are completely understandable and free for everyone to experience.

Those pleasures of each season cost nothing and are given freely to everyone. They offer much enjoyment to each human observer, and this speaker wants to urge his fellows to feel the same joy and love he has experienced as he has observed those seasonal qualities.

Commemorative Stamp

U.S. postage stamp issued for the centennial of the poet

U.S. postage stamp issued for the centennial of the poet

Questions & Answers

Question: When Robert Frost says, "his is love and nothing else is love," in "A Prayer in Spring," what is he referring to?

Answer: The speaker puts forth his reason for requesting of the Divine that He tap the minds and even the hearts of his fellows: this speaker firmly believes that "this is love and nothing else is love."

Question: What is the meaning of the poem "A Prayer in Spring" ?

Answer: As the speaker prays to the Divine Beloved, he is also inviting his audience to become as delighted in "the springing of the year” as they do in the later harvest which happens in autumn—two seasons away from spring.

Question: What does the speaker in Robert Frost's "A Prayer in Spring" pray for?

Answer: The speaker in Frost's "A Prayer in Spring" is saying an uncomplicated prayer focusing on love and gratitude that is traditionally on display during the season of Thanksgiving.

Question: What is the theme in "A Prayer in Spring" by Robert Frost?

Answer: The speaker in Frost's "A Prayer in Spring" is saying an uncomplicated prayer focusing on love and gratitude that is traditionally on display during the season of Thanksgiving.

Question: In what way might Robert Frost's "A Prayer in Spring" be considered a carpe diem poem?

Answer: By calling the harvest "uncertain," the speaker lays his emphasis on the very much needed ability to live in the moment, instead of constantly looking to the future for enjoyment. Constantly looking ahead to future possibilities, the human being loses the beauty of the current activities, and then there is the possibility of being disappointed in the future if the harvest does not result in all that quality produce. Those notions are certainly carpe diem in nature.

Question: What is the tone of Robert Frost's "A Prayer in Spring?

Answer: The tone evokes love and gratitude with a quiet, meditative devotion.

Question: Why does the poet use "to-day" instead of "today"?

Answer: The term was expressed as two words, "to day," until about the middle of the 16th century, and then until about the middle of the 20th century it was hyphenated, "to-day." Since then, the hyphen has disappeared and now we primarily use one word, "today." Robert Frost lived from 1874 to 1963; thus, he would have been using the prevailing form, "to-day," during this writing years.

Question: What does the speaker mean in the first line?

Answer: The first line opens a prayer to God.

Question: Why does Robert Frost mention "uncertain harvest" in a poem about spring?

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Answer: As the farmers begin their spring planting and cultivation, they would naturally be looking forward to the ripe results with its benefits of food and money. The speaker, however, is urging them to contemplate with enjoyment the season dedicated to planting and tending. After all, it is the season of new birth, a time when they begin their valuable work, and then continue that work of cultivation that later will results in the fine, necessary, and, hopefully, abundant harvest.

By calling the harvest "uncertain," the speaker lays his emphasis on the very much needed ability to live in the moment, instead of constantly looking to the future for enjoyment. Constantly looking ahead to future possibilities, the human being loses the beauty of the current activities, and then there is the possibility of being disappointed in the future if the harvest does not result in all that quality produce.

Question: Where is the poet and what is happening around him?

Answer: The poet is likely sitting at his writing table composing his poem. In the poem, the season of spring is opening.

Question: Which pleasures do the children ask for in "A Prayer in Spring"?

Answer: The speaker of the poem is asking for "pleasure in the flowers" and "in the orchard," found in the first and fifth lines of the poem.

Question: The poet uses 'to-day' instead of 'today'; why?

Answer: The term was expressed as two words, "to day," until about the middle of the 16th century, and then until about the middle of the 20th century it was hyphenated, "to-day." Since then, the hyphen has disappeared and now we primarily use one word, "today." Robert Frost lived from 1874 to 1963; thus, he would have been using the prevailing form, "to-day," during this writing years.

Question: Who published "A Prayer in Spring"?

Answer: Robert Frost's "A Prayer in Spring" appeared in his collection titled A Boy's Will, published by Henry Holt and Company in 1915.

Question: What’s the tone Robert Frost's poem "A Prayer in Spring"?

Answer: The tone is meditative delight as the speaker in Frost's "A Prayer in Spring" is offering an uncomplicated prayer to the Blessed Creator, focusing on love and gratitude that is traditionally on display during the season of Thanksgiving.

Question: Which season is described in the poem "A Prayer in Spring" by Robert Frost?

Answer: Oddly enough, Frost's poem titled "A Prayer in Spring" focuses on the season of "spring."

Question: Does of Robert Frost's "A Prayer in Spring" speaker believe in God?

Answer: Yes, he must, in that he is addressing God in his prayer/poem. The speaker feels strongly that there are many aspects of life that are not understood well by the human heart and mind, which means they simply have to be left only to God. However, the simple pleasures of spring are completely understandable and free for everyone to experience.

Question: What are the poetic devices used in the poem?

Answer: In the lines, "The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill, / And off a blossom in mid-air stands still," the device called metaphor is employed. For the most part, the poem remains quite literal.

Question: Where is the "swarm dilating"?

Answer: The "swarm dilating" refers to bees moving in an ever-widening configuration around trees.

Question: In Robert Frost's "A Prayer In Spring," what does the word "bill" stand for?

Answer: The "needle bill" refers to the humming bird's beak, which is long and slender.

Question: What is the main idea / lesson / purpose of Robert Frost' "Prayer in Spring"?

Answer: To thank God for the beauty of the spring season.

Question: How does the speaker relate to farmers?

Answer: In Robert Frost's "A Prayer in Spring," the speaker reveals that as the farmers begin their spring planting and cultivation, they would naturally be looking forward to the ripe results with its benefits of food and money. The speaker is urging the farmers to contemplate with enjoyment the season dedicated to planting and tending. Spring is the season of new birth, a time when they begin their valuable work, and then continue that work of cultivation that later will results in the fine, necessary, and, hopefully, abundant harvest.

Question: What is the tone of "A Prayer in Spring"?

Answer: In a tone of meditative delight, the speaker in Frost's "A Prayer in Spring" is offering an uncomplicated prayer to the Blessed Creator, focusing on love and gratitude that is traditionally on display during the season of Thanksgiving.

Question: Whom does the speaker address in the first line of Frost’s “A Prayer in Spring”?

Answer: The speaker is addressing God.

Question: To whom is the speaker addressing in the first line of Robert Frost's poem "A Prayer in Spring"?

Answer: The speaker is addressing God.

Question: How does the speaker feel in Robert Frost's "A Prayer in Spring"?

Answer: The speaker in Robert Frost's “A Prayer in Spring” feels grateful for all the beauty that surrounds him and for the abundant gifts from nature and nature's God.

Question: In Frost's "Spring," whom does the speaker address in the first line?

Answer: In the opening line and continuing through the first three stanzas, the speaker addresses the Divine Creator, that is, God.

Question: Who does the speaker address in the first line?

Answer: God.

Question: Whom does the speaker address in the first line?

Answer: The speaker is addressing God in the poem.

Question: What is the significance of the “uncertain” harvest?

Answer: By calling the harvest "uncertain," the speaker lays his emphasis on the very much needed ability to live in the moment, instead of constantly looking to the future for enjoyment. Constantly looking ahead to future possibilities, the human being loses the beauty of the current activities, and then there is the possibility of being disappointed in the future if the harvest does not result in all that quality produce.

Question: To which pleasure does the speaker refer to the orchard?

Answer: The speaker is referring to the white blooms that appear on trees before the fruit grows.

Question: What is the meaning of Frost’s “Prayer in Spring”?

Answer: This delightful little prayer poem, "A Prayer in Spring," is spoken in four stanzas, each composed of two rimed couplets. As the speaker prays to the Divine Beloved, he is also inviting his audience to become as delighted in "the springing of the year” as they do in the later harvest which happens in autumn—two seasons away from spring.

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes

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