Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Poem for Stony Brook

I came upon this poem by Robert Frost, and thought how perfectly it described the late great Stony brook. "The brook was thrown, Deep in a sewer dungeon under stone..." Once, trout entered her waters in the Spring to mate and complete the circle of life. Now, she lies in a subterranean vault, as if the city was ashamed of her. Such is progress.

A Brook In The City

 The farmhouse lingers, though averse to square
With the new city street it has to wear
A number in. But what about the brook
That held the house as in an elbow-crook?
I ask as one who knew the brook, its strength
And impulse, having dipped a finger length
And made it leap my knuckle, having tossed
A flower to try its currents where they crossed.
The meadow grass could be cemented down
From growing under pavements of a town;
The apple trees be sent to hearth-stone flame.
Is water wood to serve a brook the same?
How else dispose of an immortal force
No longer needed? Staunch it at its source
With cinder loads dumped down? The brook was thrown
Deep in a sewer dungeon under stone
In fetid darkness still to live and run --
And all for nothing it had ever done
Except forget to go in fear perhaps.
No one would know except for ancient maps
That such a brook ran water. But I wonder
If from its being kept forever under,
The thoughts may not have risen that so keep
This new-built city from both work and sleep.


  1. A marvelous poem, Mark. The image of the brook leaping a knuckle; I know exactly how that looks. It is sad that children don't get the chance to play in streams anymore.

  2. Perhaps he did write it about Stony Brook. He lived, worked, or went to school around Boston for a good portion of his life.

  3. Frost graduated from Lawrence high school, so that would make more sense to me.

  4. Someone should put this on a plaque near the Brewery.

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