When initially pondering the Robert Frost’s “Two Tramps in Mud Time,” I was struggling with how to connect this monumental, life-changing summer to it. However, after a fairly typical past week here with a networking event at the Heritage Foundation, my last rugby tournament with the D.C. Furies, birthday celebration for a Capital Scholar, Mass in a beautiful Cathedral, museums visits on Sunday, last meetings with my direct advisor, policy lectures, a Coalition team meeting on the Hill, and a Leadership Institute workshop, several messages resonated with me from stanza to stanza.
In the first stanza with the two strangers, I noted that the one that yelled “Hit them hard!” in regards to chopping wood was just planning on distracting the writer so as to obtain his job for the money. In the following stanza, two lines stuck out to me in regards to the writer’s monotonous work spent chopping on the wood with “that day, giving a loose my soul,/ I spent on the unimportant wood.” Although I genuinely believe that all of the work that the Family Research Council does is important work, there was a time when I felt like I was trudging along and performing tedious tasks, specifically in two projects, when collecting contact information of all of the authors, co-authors, sponsors, and co-sponsors of certain legislation that my organization was tracking as well as thoroughly digging through Planned Parenthood annual reports over the years for statistics. However, I recognized the importance of my work and was shown how it will be used at FRC in the future. The third stanza addresses how it seems as though the writer is looking forward to summer, but you have to be careful and don’t count your chickens before they hatch with “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.” This can also point to how I am working in the conservative think tank world and learning cues as to when to and when not to speak up. Although “he wouldn’t advise a thing to blossom,” such as something new to start after winter, in the fourth stanza, the blue bird is a symbol of hope for my future, hope for my work, and hope to come back to D.C. The fifth stanza shows how not only should one be literally glad with water and summertime coming, but not take it for granted. It, also, figuratively reminds one that he/ she should not forget the negatives of what could possibly be. I feel that the sixth stanza can be interpretted in a few ways. The writer either loved his job most when others wanted it from him or genuinely enjoyed his job more when he was challenged and relished in the work he was accomplishing with “the time when most I loved my task/ The two must make me love it more/ By coming with what they came to ask.” Although I personally did not experience too much backlash coming from a school across country with ASU, I almost felt like I had to work harder to prove my worth compared to the men coming out of the words in the poem and “thought all chopping was theirs of right” in the seventh stanza. While I could have been judged as being too young (as a rising junior), or not coming from a presitigious private school, or not having too much of a background in policy work, I confidently brought with me the skills I possesed and worked hard as noted by my internship coordinator as I demonstrated “an eagnerness and willingness to learn and grow.” Furthermore, as the writer mentions in the poem, even though these people had judged him, they would not know “a fool” in other aspects of other work besides their own. In the eighth stanza, the men and the writer do not engage as the writer knew that he did the work because of his love for it, while the men did it for need of a job and money. He knew that nothing should be said because they had the better right as they were “working for gain.”
Finally, I believe that the most crucial take-away from this poem are the last four lines in the concluding paragraph: “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.” The writer here wishes to unite his hobby with his vocation. He stresses how important it is for work to be play and to truly enjoy your job versus just going through the motions and doing the job for monetary means. Thus, I have even recognized this in my own life with working the past four summers as a lifeguard and swim instructor at two pools. I have never loved a job so much where the pay was just the added bonus, but that is what I felt like working in the pool environments. This summer, though, I took the necessary steps to expand my horizons and delve into my future career with a D.C. internship. While I have still enjoyed the work that I have done at the Family Research Council, I have learned and grown so much in just these past nine weeks and noted the importance of realizing “where love and need are one.” Especially within this bustling city, the people can get wrapped up in the constant business of it all and not actually enjoy what they do on a day-to-day basis. Thus, I believe this is what the poem is ultimately getting at- how much one should really enjoy their work and ignore the distraction and judgement from others as noted originally from the men coming out of the wood.
In conclusion, I am extremely grateful to have been accepted into the 2017 ASU Capital Scholars Program and blessed to have received a paid internship at the Family Research Council. I have loved every moment here in our nation’s capital and I’ll be back for you D.C.… hopefully with more future internships and possibly one day enacting legislation in our Capitol;)
One last time… This is Brigette Maggio signing off to you from Washington, D.C. It’s been a pleasure, and thanks for reading!