What the poem means to me: it brings the colours of bitter cold mornings and evenings to mind, the bite of sub-Antarctic winds along the Old Man range in Central Otago. It evokes musical fragments, which haunt, like Frost's phrases. And, most of all, it makes me wonder how these truths can best be said, best narrated. Frost was no sentimentalist, and even less theologically motivated. Nature, in his estimate, was not kind but cruel. And the nature of the human mind and indeed the human heart, morally and emotionally ambiguous. Yet, when all is said and done, discussed and weighed, there will emerge "roughly zones whose laws must be obeyed".

Back to Through the Year with John Wesley

We sit indoors and talk of the cold outside.
And every gust that gathers strength and heaves
Is a threat to the house. But the house has long been tried.
We think of the tree. If it never again has leaves,
We’ll know, we say, that this was the night it died.
It is very far north, we admit, to have brought the peach.
What comes over a man, is it soul or mind
That to no limits and bounds he can stay confined?
You would say his ambition was to extend the reach
Clear to the Arctic of every living kind.
Why is his nature forever so hard to teach
That though there is no fixed line between wrong and right,
There are roughly zones whose laws must be obeyed.
There is nothing much we can do for the tree tonight.
But we can’t help feeling more than a little betrayed
That the northwest wind should rise to such a height
Just when the cold went down so many below.
The tree has no leaves and may never have them again.
We must wait till some months hence in the spring to know.
But if it is destined never again to grow,
It can blame this limitless trait in the hearts of men.
 
After the sequence (pages 1-7) was completed, it illustrated my interpretation of the poem. I then made a video with assistance from two friends. It was dedicated to Helen Clark, and the members and work of the World Health Organization Covid Review Panel.
NB: Robert Frost died in 1963 so his work is in the public domain in New Zealand, but copyright on his poetry published after 1923 extends until 2058 in the USA.

There are roughly zones | Robert Frost

There are roughly zones | plates 01, 02

There are roughly zones | plates 01, 02

There are roughly zones | plates 03, 04

There are roughly zones | plates 03, 04

Prints of the First Stanza

Prints of the First Stanza

Prints of the Second Stanza

Prints of the Second Stanza

Prints of the Third Stanza

Prints of the Third Stanza

Prints of the Fourth Stanza

Prints of the Fourth Stanza

Artist Proofs for the Dedication to Helen Clark

Artist Proofs for the Dedication to Helen Clark

A Personal Interpretation of There Are Roughly Zones