I think my time in DC and future going forward does have some connection to this great poem of “Two Tramps in Mud Time”. When the poem says “Be glad of water, but don’t forget, The lurking frost in the earth beneath, That will steal forth after the sun is set”. This reminded me of the hard times that I had during the time I intern here in DC. It was hard for the most time. Doing the professional journalism job that they do on a daily basis was nothing easy. But, I knew all along that eventually everything will be worth it. And that “after the sun is set” part of the poem reminded me that one say I will look at the sun being set remembering of the hard working days as a student intern, in which DC played a huge part.
I am not dare to elaborate a deep review of “Two tramps in mud time”, because being honest I am not sure that my interpretation adjusts nearly to its truthful meaning. However, I have my own interpretation of the message that hides in its prose poetry.
Every season thousands of interns poor into the hallways of Washington D.C. Some of the most prestigious think-tanks in the U.S. will host some of the best students coming from across the nation’s universities. We come to greatest democracy’s seat of power to learn, and to advance our careers those few inches that are “everywhere around us” that the great Al Pacino make famous in the movie “Any given Sunday.” Before we came to accomplish our journey to D.C. others did before, now they are victorious settlers that can advise to the newcomers to “Hit them hard.” It is up to us to figure out the intentions of the authors of those words, where they said with intention of giving support to the rookies? Or are they a mock to us, the masses in suits that every morning invade the metro stations? My experience tells me that these words are given with the best of the intentions; during all these weeks all the words that I have listen were to encourage me. I consider myself very fortunate, as an intern at the bottom of the pyramid the advices provided to me are fruitful and helpful; thinking otherwise would be miserable for my part.
I have tried to make the most beautiful pile of firewood that I could, with the love professed by a craftsman to his handcraft. When the winter will come back, but my fireplace will be ready to warm my home and my soul. Coming to D.C. and living its deceptive; frenetic; glamorous, thrilling rhythm may be as dangerous as walking into a wild forest, but it is definitely worth.
This summer in DC has been a whirlwind. Although I’m grateful for my time here and the experiences I’ve had, I’m ready to leave the District. My departure will also signify the end of my time as an undergraduate therefore my emotions feel amplified by the passage into a new phase of life. I’m equipped with more skills, connections, and friends than before I landed in the gloomy, sometimes swampy, District of Columbia. Importantly, I became more focused on my goals and my academic interests (thesis’ prep!) My internship showed me another side to museums which I was previously unfamiliar while also preparing me for the rigor of research in anthropology.
“Two Tramps in Mud Time,” felt roundabout and disjointed the first time I read through it. After spending time trying to deconstruct each stanza and then looking at it again as a whole, I began to formulate my interpretation of Frost’s words. My first impression of the first stanza was more literal than metaphoric. I felt, as it was a warning of others who may linger and be overly interested in your work. Those who are concerned with your affairs particularly those in the work place, could be malicious in the their interest and they often reappear as they did in the poem. I came to DC, with a perception alike to common stereotypes of the hustle of a capital city. The beginning to “Two Tramps in Mud Time,” felt reflective of the cutthroat feeling that DC can emit.
As the poem goes on, the admission that the presence of onlookers sparked motivation and appreciation of one’s work in the gaze of others struck me. I have had moments in my internship where I was met with both praise and inquiry from my peers as well as those in higher positions. I can relate to that attention reigniting my passion and affirming my abilities in the field. Throughout the summer, I’ve definitely had some difficult moments and reminding myself that I’m working in the Smithsonian gaining invaluable skills for my future was sometimes hard. Though I felt the poem took self-praise as a natural, welcomed reaction but also as limitation to the understanding of others.
My summer as a Capital Scholar has pushed me to evolve as a professional, friend, citizen, and an intellectual. As the last lesson reveals itself in the final stanzas of the poem, these moments of reflection as I pack up to leave DC are proving to be contrary to my prior conceptions. My internship has allowed me to see the field of anthropology and museums from a whole new lens. I’m able to better identify with the grievances of researchers and patrons alike in respect to museums as well as those who bemoan the pace of government work. In direct correlation to my interest in cultural heritage, expression, and identity, I’ve had my senses broaden through this experience. I, like Frost, am finding the ways to weave my interests with my work and study. Through this experience I’ve gained a clearer picture of how I can make that a reality.
As I read the poem “Two Tramps In Mud Time”, all I think about is being an intern.. the first paragraph states “I knew pretty well what he had in mind: He wanted to take my job for pay”. As I read those words, I thought about how many people I came in contact with in my life that said, “I would never be an intern, if I am going to work, I will be paid for my time.”
The third paragraph makes me think of how fast time flew being in Washington, D.C. “You know how it is with an April day” then the next line jumps to “you’re one month on in the middle of May.” I was here for two whole months and I feel like I just arrived yesterday.
What came to mind as soon as I read the fifth paragraph was do not give up, no matter how long it takes you to find an opportunity you will find one if you work hard and want it bad enough. Also, be grateful for every opportunity you receive, everything happens for a reason. Stay faithful and strong.
The ending resembles not burning bridges with anyone, even if you do not always see eye to eye with another. Stay kind to everyone and stay open minded. Your future could be in their hands one day. This poem reminded me a lot of my experience in Washington, D.C. and everything I had learned.
Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily “Hit them hard!”
This first part of the poem speaks a lot to apply internships and beginning the time in Washington, D.C.. When I was applying for jobs, it honestly felt like a shot in the dark with every application. In my normal Arizona life, I have worked for everything I have and it showed in conversations, my resume and work. However when I was applying to internships that changed. It felt like I was unqualified for everything I looked at. I didn’t know where to begin. I felt insecure about every application. I was just getting ‘off my aim’ as more time passed and I wasn’t hearing from internships.
I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.
This section does not fully relate with my time in D.C. because I was the only intern in my office, and my office is considered independent oversight. However, I did feel the pressure to prove myself in different ways. I felt like I needed to prove I was worth hiring, even though I’m unpaid, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t a waste of time for them. I also felt the need to do just as well and as many cool things as all of the Capital Scholars have done, and make the most of my time here. It was just a lot of pressure, I put on myself, like I was competing for my job even after I already had it.
Good blocks of oak it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;
And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.
The blows that a life of self-control
Spares to strike for the common good,
That day, giving a loose my soul,
I spent on the unimportant wood.
This part of the poem reminds me of turning life on autopilot without much meaning. I’m very conscientious of this actually. I don’t want to get stuck living a life I’m not excited about. I also want to make sure I’m learning new things and developing new skills. However, this section feels like he has mastered his trade and has stopped growing as a person and lost his purpose. This summer I kept trying to experience new things and new people before just letting the time slip by.
The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.
A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight
And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume,
His song so pitched as not to excite
A single flower as yet to bloom.
It is snowing a flake; and he half knew
Winter was only playing possum.
Except in color he isn’t blue,
But he wouldn’t advise a thing to blossom.
The first stanza seems like he’s waiting for the other pin to drop. Life is great, but it seems like he’s waiting for something to go wrong. The second stanza seems like this is the warning that the trouble aren’t over and no one should dance over the good conditions yet. It may have been that people wanted to work there, but weren’t productive. I haven’t had any issues with unhelpful team members so I was pretty fortunate. I did pretty well at my internship, but for the first month or so, I was just waiting to screw up something important or accidentally leak information on an ongoing case, etc. As it turns out, I haven’t messed up and I don’t think I’ve leaked any information so what I thought might have winter coming back, was actually summer staying.
The water for which we may have to look
In summertime with a witching wand,
In every wheelrut’s now a brook,
In every print of a hoof a pond.
Be glad of water, but don’t forget
The lurking frost in the earth beneath
That will steal forth after the sun is set
And show on the water its crystal teeth.
The time when most I loved my task
The two must make me love it more
By coming with what they came to ask.
You’d think I never had felt before
The weight of an ax-head poised aloft,
The grip of earth on outspread feet,
The life of muscles rocking soft
And smooth and moist in vernal heat.
It seems to be saying to be thankful for what you have and remember the hardships that are out there. I feel like he is competing with them for the job and putting in more work than them, but he enjoys his trade and the thrill of doing what he loves. I enjoy that too. I love working, this week alone, I’ve worked 40 hours already including outside time.
Out of the wood two hulking tramps
(From sleeping God knows where last night,
But not long since in the lumber camps).
They thought all chopping was theirs of right.
Men of the woods and lumberjacks,
The judged me by their appropriate tool.
Except as a fellow handled an ax
They had no way of knowing a fool.
Nothing on either side was said.
They knew they had but to stay their stay
And all their logic would fill my head:
As that I had no right to play
With what was another man’s work for gain.
My right might be love but theirs was need.
And where the two exist in twain
Theirs was the better right–agreed.
But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.
Now he’s showing them that they aren’t God’s gift to wood chopping. The new men are taking credit for his work because he’s better at it than them and they don’t want to work. He seems like he’s still trying to make the best of it and do his best. I think that was me this summer while trying to road block drama and everything. I really just wanted to my best, do a lot and make the most of my time.
As I reflect on my Capital Scholar journey, I remember everyone telling me at the beginning that this summer will go by very quickly. As my previous experiences have always told me, my elders’ advice is always something you should take to heart. I have visited a lot of places in DC, and couldn’t be more satisfied with my federal internship experience. It has been a bittersweet journey, and I hate saying goodbyes, but I know I will see everyone here again and will make sure to visit DC to touch base with the friends I have made here! That being said, the Two Tramps in Mud time poem really resonated quite well with my DC experience. In particular, the first stanza which mentioned the tramps trying to take a job for money while at the same time taunting the speaker by saying to make sure to chop the oaks well really went well with the culture of DC. In DC, you cannot stop, life keeps going at very high speeds here, and if you can’t adapt, maybe a Tramp might take your job. This in a sense emphasizes the materialistic nature of big cities and how nihilistic our existence really is. However, this was quickly rebutted by John Frost in the next couple stanzas, where he went into great detail describing nature’s beauties. This was a contrast in my opinion because Frost wanted to display the very small details that make life memorable. I can relate to this really well because I knew from the beginning that my time here was very limited, so I made sure to take nothing for granted. It was a blessing that my trek to work every day also involved passing by the capitol, and every time I saw it I have been in awe. The other part of the poem that stood out to me was the part of the changing weather. In my head, I thought this stanza was perfect for describing DC’s very stingy weather. One time I remember walking back from work when it was completely dry out and in a matter of about 5 minutes it was raining cats and dogs. Another part of the poem that resonated well with me was the part where Frost mentions how the speaker ended up working harder when the two Tramps told him to work harder. In this scenario and towards the second to last stanza, the speaker mentions how the Tramps are woodcutting out of need, not love.
All in all, I think the most important experience I got from this summer trip from reading John Frost’s poem was to take everything seriously, don’t chase after money if your passion isn’t genuine, and appreciate the minutiae details that make life worth it. This summer has truly been an awesome experience, and I have made memories that I will never forget and keep with me for the rest of my life.
One of the first big points I got out of this poem was the separation of work and play. It seems that the narrator is chopping wood for leisure when the two tramps come out of the woods. The two tramps chop wood for need, which was apparent when the narrator mentioned that the tramps wanted to take his job for pay. For the narrator, chopping wood was something he loved doing, something he did it out of leisure, but for the tramps, it was their income. The narrator goes on to say, “Only where love and need are one, And the work is play for moral stakes, Is the deed ever really done”.
I made a connection in these areas because I feel like the big point to be taken out is that you have to put passion and work hard into everything you do and it’ll make life so much more enjoyable. For some doing a job is just a way to make money, but for others a job is something they’re genuinely passionate about so when you combine the two that’s when you get the best workers and the happiest employees.
This relates to all of us interns here in D.C. because I can guarantee that you would not meet one of us that isn’t happy here and happy to be in their internship. Everyone loves what they’re doing so much and all the people that they’ve met. Young professionals are thriving off the energy of this amazing city and if you think about it we are both the narrator and the tramps. We are here not only for pleasure but also to make a name for ourselves and make a living. To set ourselves up for success for the future. The people that are here simply for play and aren’t serious about the experience are taking away from those that really dream of coming to D.C..
The second point that stood out to me was the mud time aspect. When he talks about how it’s the middle of April but one day can bring you back into March and the next can spring you forward into May. I feel like us interns are here in an April phase of our lives in the sense that yes, we do have this amazing experience under our belt, but we also have so far to go. Some days it can seem like you’re doing so good and headed in the right direction. But other days it can be stressful because we still have to go back to finish our degrees and we can’t start our careers right away. This is simply a building block in the foundation of our empires.
I feel like this poem has many relatable themes not only to my time in D.C. but also in real life. When he mentions the frost lurking beneath the surface, it reminds me to always analyze every decision to the fullest, because things may not be what they seem. When he mentions that he has no right to play with something that is another mans gain, this reminds me to always be humble with everything that i’m doing, because chances are there is probably someone else dying to be in the position that I am in.
I’ve learned a lot of amazing life lessons here in D.C., and i’m very sad to see my time come to and end here. I will take this experience and use it to help me progress into my future life.
It’s not a goodbye D.C., just a see ya later ❤