Rail yard background, from the Library of Congress


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Blank Verse
[Page 3]

This section closes with a longer selection from one of the twentieth-century masters of formal writing, the American poet Robert Frost. This poem takes its title from Macbeth's comment on the news of his wife's death: "Out, out, brief candle!"

             Out, Out--

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard 

And made dust and dropped stove-length 

                                sticks of wood,  

Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew 

                                across it. 

And from there those that lifted eyes could count 

Five mountain ranges one behind the other 

Under the sunset far into Vermont. 

And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled 

                                and rattled, 

As it ran light, or had to bear a load. 

And nothing happened: day was all but done. 

Call it a day, I wish they might have said 

To please the boy by giving him the half hour 

That a boy counts so much when saved from work. 

His sister stood beside them in her apron 

To tell them ìSupper.î At the word, the saw, 

As if to prove saws knew what supper meant, 

Leaped out at the boyís hand, or seemed to leapó 

He must have given the hand. However it was, 

Neither refused the meeting. But the hand! 

The boyís first outcry was a rueful laugh, 

As he swung toward them holding up the hand 

Half in appeal, but half as if to keep 

The life from spilling. Then the boy saw alló 

Since he was old enough to know, big boy 

Doing a manís work, though a child at heartó 

He saw all spoiled. ìDonít let him cut my hand offó 

The doctor, when he comes. Donít let him, sister!î 

So. But the hand was gone already. 

The doctor put him in the dark of ether. 

He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath. 

And thenóthe watcher at his pulse took fright. 

No one believed. They listened at his heart. 

Littleólessónothing!óand that ended it. 

No more to build on there. And they, since they 

Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

Consider the formal characteristics of this poem in relation to its content, given the associations of blank verse presented above.
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