Jean Brody: The poet and the farm

Published 7:26 am Tuesday, April 17, 2018

In 1991, while in Key Biscayne, Florida, I had a wonderful visit with my good friend and nationally syndicated columnist, John Keasler. He told me this story.

When John was a young reporter, he was sent to interview the great poet Robert Frost. Frost had retired to Florida, and as the two talked he unfolded this true story.

Frost lived in Vermont on a large and lovely farm. Just across the road lived another man on a much more modest farm.

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For years Frost would sit on his porch and wish he lived on the smaller farm. It was worth much less in dollar and cents but it appealed mightily to Robert Frost.

For some reason it was just his kind of place, more intimate and homier, and finally, when he could stand it no longer he crossed the road and found the owner busy at work. “Say, I live across the road, over there, on that big farm, but for a long time I wanted to live over here,” said Frost.

“Hm, that’s funny,” answered the other farmer. “For years I’ve looked out over all your acres and your great white house and wished I could afford to live there.”

“Is that so?” Frost rubbed his chin, thought a minute and said quietly, “Wanna’ swap?”

“Oh yea, sure I do, but I don’t have the money to pay the difference,” answered the farmer.

“Wanna’ swap even?” Frost smiled. The farmer narrowed his eyes and looked suspiciously at Frost, the famous writer, “Yea, well what’s the catch?”

“No catch.”

“No catch?”

The farmer shifted from one foot to the other and he crossed his arms, “Well I’ve got work to do,” and he turned away.

Frost could see that it was no use so he went back to his large farm but he could not forget it. More than anything he wanted that little farm and finally, one day he could stand it no longer. Back he went across the road.

“Howdy! Do you remember me from over at the big farm across the road?”


“Well, I can’t quit thinking about how much I love your little farm and your little farm house. Do you want to swap even?”

The farmer’s face screwed into a frown. “I told you before and I’m telling you again. I do not have the money, and I don’t believe for one minute that you would swap even your wonderful big farm for my little one.”

“But I will swap even. You like mine, and I like yours. So why not?”

After talking back and forth a deal was finally made to simply swap even. Both men were delighted and it was a glorious day when everything in one house was moved across the street to the other house. The two men smiled as they moved back and forth. It wasn’t long before each one had settled in their new farm. Robert Frost was in heaven.

Every day he realized all over again how filled up with joy he felt. How wonderful to be exactly where he wanted to be.

The day came when he could contain his good fortune no longer so he crossed the road to share his joy with the farmer who now lived on the big beautiful farm.

When he found him, instead of finding a joyous man he found a snarly angry man.

Frost was shocked but said, “I just came over to thank you again for swapping farms with me. I’ve never been so happy in my life and I hope you are the same.”

“Well,” roared the farmer, “I’m not. I hate this farm! I’m miserable ever since we swapped.”

“But, but why?” sputtered Frost, genuinely puzzled.

“Why? I’ll tell you why! Because I’ve never been able to figure out the catch! That’s why!”

Are we never satisfied?

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.