You can read this poem here.
There are lots of justly well-known poems by Frost, but as far as I can tell this one is less known. For me it’s not necessarily a blow-your-socks-off-remember-every-word-forever poem. Nonetheless I do like its quiet assertion of priorities. We can all feel overwhelmed by our own ‘hills [we] haven’t hoed’, whatever they may look like; cleaning, client notes, and all those pressing phone calls, emails and assorted admin tasks spring immediately to my mind… It’s hard, sometimes, to remember how important it is to make time for those who matter to us.
Frost notes how the friend ‘slows his horse to a meaning walk’. It is a tacit request—for time, for connection, for human encounter. Those unspoken requests are the ones it can be easiest to ignore, or at least to shove so far down our priorities list that it’s more or less the same as ignoring them. But here the poet responds to that which is not said. I love that. I’m all for asking directly for what we need, but sometimes for whatever reason it doesn’t seem possible (to me, at least). And it’s so lovely when someone is in tune enough to offer what we want without our having to spell it out.
…and the possibly tenuous-seeming cafe connection? Well, sometimes meeting a friend in a cafe—setting aside a time and space for connection, making it an entry in the diary—is the equivalent of sticking my hoe in the ground and plodding up to the wall: it registers that this is something worth stopping other things for. It makes an occasion of it. For if the ‘friendly visit’ can take place where there is warmth and cake and tea and hot buttered toast (sounds like tea at Mr Tumnus’ house!)… why, so much the better.