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.


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