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Design by Robert Frost

I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth—
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches’ broth—
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.

What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?—
If design govern in a thing so small.

Does life have a design, a pattern? Are we meant to have done the things we did? And do? And will? Robert Frost reads his poem. At the end of the twelfth line you can hear him mutter to himself, “and then,” giving us an extra foot, a lazy iamb. Is it meant for the end the twelfth line or the beginning of the thirteenth? What exactly is Frost’s design here adding two more syllables to what he had originally written?

Drawings by Akram

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