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A Mary T. Hoffman Commentary from


"Joyful Curmudgeon" An oxymoron?
No! I see all the beauty of God's creation and I'm joyful.  At the same time, I see all the suffering and corruption going on in the world, and feel called to help expose and end it so that we may have true peace and compassion.


Robert Frost – 3 January 2008
By Mary T. Hoffman

Although the popular American poet Robert Lee Frost, who was born in 1874, is usually associated with rural New England, his poems are full of universal meaning and combine humor with deep thought. His first two books – A Boy’s Will (1913) and North of Boston (1914) – were published in England, where he spent three years and first received acclaim as a poet.

Frost served as a professor at many universities, received honorary degrees from more than thirty colleges and universities, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize four times. He died in 1963.
The following poem offers an example of combining playfulness with serious thought. I can relate to Frost’s observations concerning a tiny creature that, unfortunately, most people would dismiss with contempt. I especially appreciate the poet’s intelligence and sensitivity that is expressed in the last six lines of this poem – A Considerable Speck.

A Considerable Speck
Robert Frost (1874-1963)

A speck that would have been beneath my sight
On any but a paper sheet so white
Set off across what I had written there.
And I had idly poised my pen in air
To stop it with a period of ink
When something strange about it made me think.
This was no dust speck by my breathing blown,
But unmistakably a living mite
With inclinations it could call its own.
It paused as with suspicion of my pen,
And then came racing wildly on again
To where my manuscript was not yet dry;
Then paused again and either drank or smelt –
With loathing, for again it turned to fly.
Plainly with an intelligence I dealt.
It seemed too tiny to have room for feet,
Yet must have had a set of them complete
To express how much it didn't want to die.
It ran with terror and with cunning crept.
It faltered; I could see it hesitate;
Then in the middle of the open sheet
Cower down in desperation to accept
Whatever I accorded it of fate.

I have none of the tenderer-than-thou
Collectivistic regimenting love
With which the modern world is being swept.
But this poor microscopic item now!
Since it was nothing I knew evil of
I let it lie there till I hope it slept.

I have a mind myself and recognize
Mind when I meet with it in any guise.
No one can know how glad I am to find
On any sheet the least display of mind.

For a collection of poetry and stories, visit:

Go on to: Horses and Ponies – 4 February 2008
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