What would Robert frost say about the present health care debate? Well – he is dead – so it is hard to know exactly what he would say.
But one of my favorite poems of his, “A Roadside Stand” contains these lines:
A Roadside Stand
While greedy good-doers, beneficent beasts of prey,
Swarm over their lives enforcing benefits
That are calculated to soothe them out of their wits,
And by teaching them how to sleep the sleep all day,
Destroy their sleeping at night the ancient way.
True, Frost did not write this poem about Government-run health care. But he DID write it about the difference in the proud, individualistic life of country people who refused to go into the city and live on “a dole of bread.”
Most think it the poem was a reaction to the New -Deal-ism coming out of Washington in the 30’s.
What strikes me is that Frost talks about something no one is talking about today in all the discussion of government-run health care, car-making, or government-run anything else.
- The loss of thinking individuals that takes place when the government forces its benefits on folk.
- The loss of the independent spirit.
- The loss of the beauty, the real life, and the drama of making your money the country way – even if not as slick as the way the city money is made.
It is in the news that all these pitiful kin
Are to be bought out and gathered in
To live in villages next to the theater and store
Where they won’t have to think for themselves anymore.
He seems to believe that it is better to eke out your existence with proudly earned dollars from the roadside stand and go to bed and sleep the honest way, worn out and having earned it.
I am with Frost – on any issue about stuff pushed down by “greedy good-doers.”
(It was hard to find an online version of the poem – not a popular one at all. Here is a PDF that has the lyrics and some good questions).