“The Pasture” by Robert Frost

I’m going out to clean the pasture spring;
I’ll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may):
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.

I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too.

(1915, North of Boston)


“The Pasture,” Robert Frost’s introductory poem for North of Boston, is a vehicle to express the intent of his poetry collection—to provide fresh insight and clarity that may “rake the leaves” that mar readers’ present perspectives. Frost underlines this notion by incorporating images such as “clean[ing] the pasture spring,” “watch[ing] the water clear,” and a “little calf” that “totters” when its mother “licks it with her tongue.” The theme of rebirth through cleansing links these images—the water is able to clear when the spring is cleaned, and the newborn is cleaned by its mother.

Frost follows these images with the refrain “I sha’n’t be gone long.—You come too,” essentially inviting the reader to experience North of Boston as a collection of poetry that will renew and refresh their worn souls. He is allowing the reader to accompany him while he actively returns purity to his surroundings, suggesting that this purity will also touch the reader.

Robert Frost was a four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet. Much of his poetry demonstrates how he derived soulful insight from pastoral surroundings.