(photo: Angel Franco/The New York Times)
I read the news today, about a gang of kids who broke into Robert Frost’s winter farmhouse in Vermont and had a party. This was no mundane social gathering – the evidence of the event provokes a grainy cinematic mental image in which a human sub-species unleashes itself within the walls of the historic home and hurls objects, burns furniture, urinates and vomits at will and wherever it feels the need. Oh, boy.
I can remember overstepping the bounds of sensible behavior while a sophomore in college, and pinning, on our common room wall, a drawing of the Ayatollah Khomeini centered within the image of a dart board. Below the picture, a caption read, “Put a Hole-ah in the Ayatollah.” Without thinking about the consequences, my roommate and I and several of our friends had a grand time playing darts while Elvis Costello records spun at a high volume on the turntable, destroying not only the picture of the Ayatollah, but the wall behind it and – when our aim was not so true – around it, as well. Yes, we paid for the damage – with both money and a meal of humble pie.
But that behavior pales in comparison to what this group did at the Homer Noble Farm in an isolated wood in Vermont. For maximum visual impact, check out this slide show of the damage. The story can be found here.
As described in Dan Barry’s essay, the cretins made their way through the idyllic setting of birch trees and snow drifts, past the historical marker designating the plot’s relationship to the great poet, and proceeded on their ruinous path. One might think that the natural setting would have a calming effect, or that the weight of importance of the location would give them pause. Surely, there was one educated person among the 30 or so of them who thought, This is the home of one of our nation’s great literary artists, one who described what we are doing right now – walking by the woods on a snowy evening – a snowy evening just like this one:
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Surely, the knowledge of this poem and its beauty nudged that one kid to consider that they were trampling on sacred ground. But if that thought did, in fact, occur, he or she very capably suppressed it.
Could this happen anywhere? Of couse, it could. But – at this time – it has happened in Vermont. So, if you have been assuming that the savages would eventually invade from the south, think again. It looks like they have already infiltrated the North.