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by Robert Frost

Lines 54-59 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 54-57

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.

  • This appreciation of life doesn't mean he isn't curious. The speaker still wonders about the limits of life and tests out where life ends and heaven begins.
  • Line 54 has a funny wording that needs to be pointed out: "I'd like to go by…" Usually people talk like this about their own death: "I'd like to go in my sleep." So it seems like the speaker is saying that he'd like to go to heaven by climbing a tree.
  • However in line 56 he says "Towards heaven," so he doesn't actually want to get to heaven just yet.
  • In other words, to quote reggae legend Peter Tosh, "Everybody want to go to heaven, / Nobody want to die."
  • Instead the speaker wants a peek at heaven from the top of the tree, then gently return to his normal life.

Lines 58-59

That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

  • The speaker is pleased with this resolution. He likes the idea of a vacation from the troubles of life, as long as it is only vacation and not a permanent situation.
  • The glimpse at the world from a new perspective would be rejuvenating.
  • He concludes, like he did in lines 52 and 53, that life's pleasures (like birch swinging) are enough to make life worth living.

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