A Considerable Speck
A speck that would have been beneath my sight
On any but a paper sheet so white
Set off across what I had written there.
And I had idly poised my pen in air
To stop it with a period of ink
When something strange about it made me think,
This was no dust speck by my breathing blown,
But unmistakably a living mite
With inclinations it could call its own.
It paused as with suspicion of my pen,
And then came racing wildly on again
To where my manuscript was not yet dry;
Then paused again and either drank or smelt–
With loathing, for again it turned to fly.
Plainly with an intelligence I dealt.
It seemed too tiny to have room for feet,
Yet must have had a set of them complete
To express how much it didn’t want to die.
It ran with terror and with cunning crept.
It faltered: I could see it hesitate;
Then in the middle of the open sheet
Cower down in desperation to accept
Whatever I accorded it of fate.
I have none of the tenderer-than-thou
Collectivistic regimenting love
With which the modern world is being swept.
But this poor microscopic item now!
Since it was nothing I knew evil of
I let it lie there till I hope it slept.
I have a mind myself and recognize
Mind when I meet with it in any guise
No one can know how glad I am to find
On any sheet the least display of mind.
The poet’s initial impetus for writing a poem grows, according to Frost, out of a flash of recognition, a flash of perception.
A Considerable Speck is a witty poem in which the poet presents in front of the readers a living mite which he sees on a white sheet on which he was writing, the mite is living in its self engrossed world and it having some desires which are totally its own. He takes a pause and very gracefully waits for the mite to move. On the contrary the mite stops down and smells the wet ink on the paper and perhaps tastes it though with some hesitation and distaste. The mite has no intention to face the death therefore runs down on the sheet of paper with sheer terror and cunningness. The poet refrains from killing it not because he believes in ‘collective regimenting love’ but because he believes that mite is an intelligent creature thus should be given an opportunity to live. Having a mind himself, the poet recognizes mind which he finds it in any shape. Indeed he feels glad to find on any sheet the least display of mind.
The wit of the poem is not bitter. The criticism is directed only against those who are mindless or unthinking, too dull to act or to reflect. A mere mite with an intelligence is superior to a human who is without wit and brain. The poem is a satire on people those who are dullards the following three lines, , often quoted, are noteworthy for their disapproval of an undiscriminating acceptance of all human beings irrespective of their mental caliber:
‘I havenone of the tendere than thou
Collecting regimenting love
With which the modern world is being swept’
It is a poem about what seemed a dust speck latter showed itself to be unmistakably a living mite moving across the poet’s manuscript. the poet noticed its suspicion of his pen and observed how once more it raced towards the wet ink, how it paused, how it crept cunningly on its invisible feet. In the end he let it lie on the sheet until he hoped it slept, a mercy extended not so much in pity in recognition he was dealing with intelligence.
Frost is clearly concerned with reason and that is why as he puts it in this poem, he is glad to find on any sheet the least display of mind.
This poem seems to show that Robert Frost was very concerned about collectivist ideology. He was disturbed to see how many people were unable to use their minds productively. They simply thought and acted the way they had been told, without being able to use their own reason. As individual thought and the product of a cultured mind became less and less common, it seemed that he took more and more delight in seeing original work that reflected the writer’s ability to think logically, to rationalize, to analyze, and to come to his own conclusions and solutions to the problems around him.