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The Silken Tent

May 30, 2015

By Robert Frost

Robert, Kay and Ted in 1948

Frost had been a faithful husband for 47 years but when Elinor died in 1938 the famous poet became fair game. Kay Morrison, the wife of a colleague, seduced him within the year.  Frost, smitten by the contrast between Kay’s public persona – respectable wife, two children – and her passionate sexuality, urged marriage, but she would not leave Ted.  Over the 25 years till Frost’s death the tangle became ever more complicated. This famous sonnet was written when it was fresh.*

The Silken Tent

She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To every thing on earth the compass round,
And only by one’s going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightest bondage made aware.

*Myers J. An Earring for Erring: Robert Frost and Kay Morrison. American Scholar (Spring 1996); 65 (2):219-41. Available here.

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