Robert Frost's "A Girl's Garden"
This fine little narrative, "A Girl's Garden," reveals that the Frostian speaker enjoys pure narrative offered just for the fun of it. The speaker is recounting an old woman's experience with a youthful endeavor in gardening on her family's farm.
The poem features 12 quatrains displayed in four movements, and each quatrain features the rime scheme ABCB.
Reading of "A Girl's Garden"
First Movement: "A neighbor of mine in the village"
The first movement finds Robert Frost's speaker in "A Girl's Garden" relating a conversation he remembers with his neighbor in the village. The speaker reports that the woman has always been quite fond of narrating an experience from her childhood about "a childlike thing" she did when she lived on a farm. While still a child, the woman, one fine spring season, requests from her father some land upon which she might grow a garden. The father eagerly agrees, and in the next few days, searches his farm for just the right plot of land for his daughter's endeavor.
After finding the little plot of land he deemed just right for his daughter's nurturing experiment, the father tells his daughter about his choice. The few acres had, at one time, sported a shop and it was walled off from the road. The father thus deemed this little plot a fine place for his daughter's experiment in gardening.
Second Movement: "And he said, "That ought to make you"
After the father reports his choice to his daughter, telling her that the plot of land should be just right for her "one-girl farm," he informs her that because the plot is too small to plow, she will have to dig the dirt and get it ready by hand.
This work would be good for her; it would give her strong arms. The daughter was delighted to have the plot of land and was very enthusiastic about starting the work. She did not mind having to ready the soil by hand.
The woman reports in her narrative that she transported the necessary items to her garden plot with a wheelbarrow. She adds a comic element, saying the smell of the dung fertilizer made her run away.
Third Movement: "And hid from anyone passing"
The woman reports that she would then go hide, so no one could observe her running away from the dung smell. She next imparts the information about what she planted.
The story-teller reckons that she planted one of everything, except weeds. She then lists her plants: "potatoes, radishes, lettuce, peas / Tomatoes, beets, beans, pumpkins, corn, / And even fruit trees."
She further reckons that she planted quite a lot of vegetables and fruits for such a small plot of farmland. She recounts that today a "cider apple tree" is growing there, and she harbors the suspicion that the tree might be the result of her farming experiment that year.
Fourth Movement: "Her crop was a miscellany"
The story-teller reports that she was able to harvest quite a variety of crops, though not very much of each one. Now when she observes the useful, abundant gardens the folks in the village have grown on their small plots of land around their homes, she remembers her own experience of growing a garden on her father's farm when she was just a young girl.
The poet/speaker who is recounting the old woman's story is amazed that this woman is not the kind of repetitive story-teller that so many seniors of nostalgia are. He says that though he has heard her tell that story many times, she never repeats the same story to the same village twice.
And the old gal never condescends to be offering advice, she merely adds her quips as fond memories. The poet/speaker seems to admire that kind of storyteller.
© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes