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Frost: Burning Down the House

Frost: Burning Down the House

Posted by admin on November 7, 2012


As the holidays approach, consider the poem The Star-Splitter by Robert Frost in which a farmer greatly desires a telescope as Orion comes up sideways.

Beyond the age

Of being given one's gift for Christmas,

He had to take the best way he knew how

To find himself in one...

...So Brad McLaughlin mingled reckless talk

Of heavenly stars with hugger-mugger farming,

Till having failed at hugger-mugger farming,

He burned his house down for the fire insurance

And spent the proceeds on a telescope

To satisfy a life-long curiosity

About our place among the infinities.

The entire poem, read by Robert Frost himself, is online at or Be sure to click the Show More button so you can read along as Frost recites it.

The poem concludes,

We've looked and looked, but after all where are we?

Do we know any better where we are,

And how it stands between the night to-night

And a man with a smoky lantern chimney?

How different from the way it ever stood?

The only way to know is to get out under the stars and ponder for ourselves. Together, let's work to introduce others to the notion of looking up, with and without telescopes.

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