Frost for Lawyers: 'The Best Thing that We're Put Here For's To See'

17 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2014 Last revised: 12 Nov 2014

See all articles by Sherman J. Clark

Sherman J. Clark

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: April 28, 2014


Why should lawyers read Frost? First of all, of course, it can bring great pleasure. As Robert Pinsky put it, poetry brings pleasures “both intellectual and bodily” and can provide “a satisfaction central to life.” And this is particularly true of Frost, whose poems are both accessible and enjoyable. This does not mean that there are no challenges in his poems. Frost does make us work. Indeed, as I hope to explore in this Essay, the work he asks us to do is essential to what we can learn from his poems. But this work is itself engaging and invigorating — like the exhilarating challenge of rock climbing. Or, for those inclined to more grounded pleasures, it is akin perhaps to the satisfaction one can get from the hard, rewarding work of splitting wood, which Frost, through his narrator in “Two Tramps in Mud Time,” describes this way: "You’d think I never had felt before The weight of an ax-head poised aloft, The grip on earth of outspread feet, The life of muscles rocking soft And smooth and moist in vernal heat." (p. 276) Both intellectual and bodily indeed.

Keywords: Robert Frost, lawyers, poetry

Suggested Citation

Clark, Sherman J., Frost for Lawyers: 'The Best Thing that We're Put Here For's To See' (April 28, 2014). Michigan Law Review, Vol. 112, No. 6, 2014; U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 406. Available at SSRN:

Sherman J. Clark (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

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Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
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