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The Monday Poem > October by Robert Frost (10/16/17)

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message 1: by Susie (last edited Oct 16, 2017 09:56AM) (new)

Susie | 179 comments Perfect day for this where I am in Colorado...overcast, breezy, chilly and the last of my aspen leaves are blowing off...

October by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

From Poem of the Day at the Poetry Foundation


message 2: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Excellent choice Susie! I love Frost's poetry and this one certainly captures the feeling of autumn.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Great choice Susie, I really enjoyed it. Very appropriate for the misty, windy weather in the UK right now. We had leaves blowing into the room when I was at work earlier!


message 4: by Greg (new)

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
I love this one Susie! Frost's poems have a strong cadence like music .. beautiful!!

Does anyone know - what is he talking about in relation to grapes. Do they require a longer cold season to get their full flavor? It sounds like maybe that's the case with his hoping the sun is retarded for the grapes' sake. I know nothing about the farming of grapes!


message 5: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments I thought that the "slow, slow" referred to delaying the frost long enough to harvest the grapes. I don't know much about farming either but I do know that the longer the grapes stay on the vine before harvesting, the stronger the flavor so I guess it is a balancing act. If you harvest early, you are sure that the frost won't kill your crop but if you wait, your grapes are better quality.


message 6: by Greg (last edited Oct 16, 2017 07:14PM) (new)

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
I did some research on grape farming sites, and you're right that frost is the problem Leslie. But this is the fascinating part: the amount of HTUs (an estimate of average warmth of the weather) determines when the vines bud. If it is too warm early on, the vines absorb that warmth and then later bud too early - this causes them to be vulnerable to frosts. The idea is that it's better for the vines to have cool weather early on because then the vines bud only after the frost dangers are passed.

How fascinating!

An extract I found:

"Using what are known as Heat Summation Units (HSUs) — an index calculated based on daily average temperatures greater then 50 degrees Fahrenheit — winemakers can estimate when grapes will be ready to harvest based on the date of the bud break and the average accumulation of HSUs for the location.

With those two bits of information, they can estimate when they should harvest the crop and put together a strategy to maximize the quality and quantity of the harvest.

The timing of “bud break” is one of the most important issues to take into consideration when strategizing. If bud break happens early, the crop becomes exposed to the risk of frost damage. Early frost, then, could result in reductions in the eventual yield of the vineyard.

Because of these early risks, winemakers note that grape quantity is determined in the spring."


The poem is clearly referring to autumn though (October); so I think your interpretation is right Leslie. I still feel puzzled that he asks the sun to be retarded with gentle mist though. Wouldn't heat be good for grape harvests in the autumn?


message 7: by Joan (new)

Joan Susie - brilliant selection!
Greg thanks for the info about grapes
I love the line:
Tomorrow they may form and go
Just yesterday I heard a flock of geese honking away on migration - one of my favorite signs of autumn-


message 8: by Joan (new)

Joan Frost’s daughter Lesley reading October.
https://youtu.be/coq-P5GioQ8
I love her rich Yankee accent - I had Aunts that sounded like her. (pronounced Ahhnt not ant in New England :-)
From The Smithsonian Folkways project
https://folkways.si.edu/derry-down-de...


message 9: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments I have heard some flocks of geese honking recently too Joan. Where I live in New England, some geese stay year-round but I do like hearing & seeing them migrating. When I moved to my current location, I was awakened by the honking at night not knowing what it was -- I didn't know that geese flew at night! I still don't really understand how they navigate, as sometimes I hear them when the sky is overcast (ruling out the stars as the method).


message 10: by Joan (new)

Joan Leslie, I read that in ponds with both migrating and non-migrating geese the two groups don’t mix! Like Capulets and Montagues,
We have non-migrating geese too.


message 11: by Greg (new)

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "Leslie, I read that in ponds with both migrating and non-migrating geese the two groups don’t mix! Like Capulets and Montagues,
We have non-migrating geese too."


How imteresting Joan! And thanks also for the video of the poem reading!

I'd love to see (and hear) the migrating geese Joan and Leslie!


message 12: by Joan (new)

Joan This doesn’t relate to the poem, but the movie Fly Away Home was about geese migrating http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116329/


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Greg, with regard to the grapes. I wonder if there if Frost is asking for the best weather for the grapes but still hoping for Autumnal weather in October. Does that make sense?

In the uk we have had some unexpectedly warm weather recently and I think a lot of people are getting nostalgic for some proper autumn days with jumpers, blankets, fires etc


message 14: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Heather, when that happens here we call it "Indian summer" - do you guys have a name for it?

But regarding the poem, I think you're right that he is wanting 'proper' autumnal weather. I was also thinking about the mist - perhaps mist doesn't form unless the weather is just right, cool at night but above freezing.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

We also call it Indian summer. This year we seem to have had warmth but it's still been grey and rainy!


message 16: by Joan (new)

Joan I asked a old friend from Vermont, her family has been farming there for more than 200 years. She said that Concord grapes need a long cool fall to develop the best flavor - she doesn’t know if the same is true for wine grapes.

I feel that Frost is hinting at a parallel between a long, slow, mild October and a long, sweet late-middle age -misty enchantment before our November & final December.


message 17: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Joan wrote: "I asked a old friend from Vermont, her family has been farming there for more than 200 years. She said that Concord grapes need a long cool fall to develop the best flavor - she doesn’t know if the..."

Great thought about the metaphor of the season with a man's life Joan! And the lines:

"Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief."


could also be understood in that way too.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks for that interpretation, Joan! I love it when people pick up metaphors because I'm a very literal person so I don't always notice them myself but I enjoy looking at other people's reading of poems


message 19: by B the BookAddict (new)

B the BookAddict (bthebookaddict) | 8315 comments Frost certainly had a gift.


message 20: by Greg (last edited Oct 17, 2017 06:16PM) (new)

Greg | 7684 comments Mod
Joan wrote: "I asked a old friend from Vermont, her family has been farming there for more than 200 years. She said that Concord grapes need a long cool fall to develop the best flavor - she doesn’t know if the..."

I love this Joan!! - this explanation rings true for me. I like your idea too Heather and Leslie, and it still could be true, but Joan's explanation really appeals to me.

The pleas for mist to retard the warmth of the sun seemed somehow important to me from the start. I sensed there was a metaphor for human aging in there somewhere, but I couldn't fully put together what it meant without this excellent inside info about grapes! As Frost lived in New Hampshire, it makes sense he might be thinking of Concord grapes. Thank your friend for us Joan - much appreciated! :)


message 21: by Susie (last edited Oct 17, 2017 06:09PM) (new)

Susie | 179 comments Wow...what a bunch of great comments!!

As far as the wine goes, 3 places I drive through are western Colorado, Southern Idaho and Eastern Washington, definite hot spots for wineries. I consider these places the high desert so it stays pretty warm during the days through October and into November. It really does cool off at night which is fine as long as no frost. I've driven through in the fall and they run huge fans to keep the warm air moving...

Love the bird talk...I follow a group trying to reintroduce the Whooping Crane and grow its population back from the brink of extinction. They will often take some of the eggs from the wild and incubate/raise the chicks with strict controls to release them. They use the ultralights every year to get the youngsters to Fl and back the first time, for added protection. After that most will then migrate with the Sandhills.


message 22: by [deleted user] (new)

Great choice, Susie, and great discussion all! :)


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