The Tuft of Flowers

Original Text: 
Robert Frost, A Boy's Will (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1915). pp. 47-49. PS 3511 R94 B6 1915a VICT
1I went to turn the grass once after one
2Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.
3The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
4Before I came to view the levelled scene.
5I looked for him behind an isle of trees;
6I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.
7But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
8And I must be, as he had been,--alone,
9`As all must be,' I said within my heart,
10`Whether they work together or apart.'
11But as I said it, swift there passed me by
12On noiseless wing a 'wildered butterfly,
13Seeking with memories grown dim o'er night
14Some resting flower of yesterday's delight.
15And once I marked his flight go round and round,
16As where some flower lay withering on the ground.
17And then he flew as far as eye could see,
18And then on tremulous wing came back to me.
19I thought of questions that have no reply,
20And would have turned to toss the grass to dry;
21But he turned first, and led my eye to look
22At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,
23A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
24Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.
26Finding them butterfly weed when I came.
27The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
28By leaving them to flourish, not for us,
29Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.
30But from sheer morning gladness at the brim.
31The butterfly and I had lit upon,
32Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,
33That made me hear the wakening birds around,
34And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,
35And feel a spirit kindred to my own;
36So that henceforth I worked no more alone;
37But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
38And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;
39And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
40With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach.
41`Men work together,' I told him from the heart,
42`Whether they work together or apart.'


25] This couplet does not appear in the version of this poem appearing in Robert Frost, Collected Poems, Prose & Plays (Library of America, 1995), p. 31. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.