Sunday, August 26, 2012

Not Quite Social

"Not Quite Social" was first published in March 1935 for the Saturday Review of Literature, for which Frost had been sending a few poems here and there for publication.  Later published in the book A Further Range, this poem was one of the last lone poems Frost wrote before creating another collection in a book.  He had recently traveled to Santa Fe and given a poetry reading which encouraged him to publish a new book, considering the amount of poems he had written and that his last book was already 3 years old (published in 1928).  Frost also noted that this poem goes with "The Lost Follower", another one of his poems.

(can be found on page 306 of the Robert Frost poetry book)

My Reading of:

              Not Quite Social


Some of you will be glad I did what I did, 
And the rest won't want to punish me too severely 
For finding a thing to do that though not forbid 
Yet wasn't enjoined and wasn't expected clearly. 

To punish me over cruelly wouldn't be right 
For merely giving you once more gentle proof 
That the city's hold on a man is no more tight 
Than when its walls rose higher than any roof. 

You may taunt me with not being able to flee the earth. 
You have me there, but loosely as I would be held. 
The way of understanding is partly mirth. 
I would not be taken as ever having rebelled. 

And anyone is free to condemn me to death 
If he leaves it to nature to carry out the sentence. 
I shall will to the common stock of air my breath 
And pay a death-tax of fairly polite repentance.


I read this poem for the first time when I was on duty last week in Wood House.  Over the last week, we prefects have been teaching the Freshmen the rules and making sure they get everything right.  Of course, sometimes rules are broken and when I read this poem, it connected with me because it relates to crime and misdemeanor.  The poem's voice is that of the poet, who has committed a crime and speaks about forgiveness, punishment, and imprisonment.  These things relate to the duties and responsibilities I have at Wood House (well at least the first two).  The poem goes through the stages of a crime we have to think about being forgiving and understand that there maybe was a reason behind the actions.  Then the second and third stanza talk about punishment and captivity. He brings up how cruel punishment is unjust and also proposes that an imprisoned man is not that much less free than anyone else.  Finally, he talks about nature being a sufficient death penalty for those holding hatred for the crime.  I enjoyed reading this piece because it takes the judgment process and makes you think about society and what we have created.

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