“In Early Drafts, Robert Frost Relied Heavily on the Thesaurus” by Jeff Vande Zande

Jeff Vande Zande


Discontinuing By Timberland
on a Fleecy Eventide
—Robert Frost

Whose copse this is I speculate I get.
His domicile is in the township, yet;
He won’t monitor me refraining here
To observe his pines congesting with wet.

My petite steed must reckon it bizarre
To knock off with the next shanty so far
Flanked by boscage and glaciated loch
The blackest eve of Earth’s loop around star.

He gives his tackle’s carillon a flap
As though he’s inquiring, “What the crap?”
The single other racket is the zoom
Of cozy zephyr and pubescent scrap.

The thicket is cute, sooty and abstruse.
But I’ve contracts that I don’t want to lose,
And 5,280 feet more until I snooze,
And 5,280 feet more until I snooze.

from Rattle #33, Summer 2010
Tribute to Humor


Jeff Vande Zande: “I guess I was reading a lot of student papers in which students were compelled to try to make their papers sound ‘better’ by using the thesaurus. For instance, one student had been arguing why people should take up jogging and then, in the middle of the paper, started arguing why people should take up cantering. I thought it might be funny to rewrite a Frost poem under the premise that Frost was a thesaurus abuser. Then, after reading it, Tim Green said, ‘I like it, Jeff, but can you make it rhyme?’ That’s three hours of my life that I’ll never get back!” (web)

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