I read the poem 'A Roadside Stand' by Robert Frost, and I have accumulated a few questions through the poem. So, I will be posting some questions from the same poem, if you can please answer my other questions as well. Thanks to all :)

See the quote below. In this, the writer has used the word 'quarts' for most probably the wooden boxes in which strawberries are kept. When I searched on the internet about 'quart', I found that it is actually by definition a unit of measurement.

So, my question is that - Are quarts (i.e the boxes) called quarts because these boxes are of 1-quart volume? or is it called a quart for another reason? Can I call any wooden box a quart?

The polished traffic passed with a mind ahead,
Or if ever aside a moment, then out of sorts
At having the landscape marred with the artless paint
Of signs that with N turned wrong and S turned wrong
Offered for sale wild berries in wooden quarts,
Or crook-necked golden squash with silver warts,
Or beauty rest in a beautiful mountain scene

  • 1
    nominal 1 quart volume....what I think Frost refers to is more a basket. In a similar way, "bushel" may be a unit of measure or a basket that holds that measure.
    – J. Taylor
    Feb 20, 2018 at 10:04
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    For both liquid and dry measure, the British system uses one standard quart, which is equal to two imperial pints, or one-fourth imperial gallon (69.36 cubic inches, or 1,136.52 cubic cm). google.co.uk/…
    – Nigel J
    Feb 20, 2018 at 11:04
  • Both AHD and RHK Webster's give the relevant sense. Feb 20, 2018 at 11:14
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    In the UK these boxes or baskets are called 'punnets', they vary in size bur are rarely, if ever, as large as 2 pints or '1 quart'. I would imagine that a 'quart' is the name Frost used for a punnet.
    – BoldBen
    Feb 20, 2018 at 15:28
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    yes... The term "quart" as Frost seems to use it refers to a container that might hold more than a pint, but less than a half gallon. this is not a way to use the term 'quart' in general conversation, as most people will take 'quart' to mean a quarter gallon measure, not a container.
    – J. Taylor
    Feb 21, 2018 at 10:55

2 Answers 2


Trying to explain what a poet means may be a knight's errand performed by a fool.

However, here is something that might help

The standard quart berry box or basket shall measure not less than five and one-quarter inches across the top, four and two hundred and sixteen thousandths across the bottom and three inches deep, all to be inside measurement.

That from the Maryland Code of 1910.
This fits well into the life of Robert Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) who would have been in his 30's in 1910.

That at least one state had regulation as to the dimensions of a "quart" berry container during this period more than suggests this type of container was common. And, at least partially, explains why Frost refereed to them as "quarts".

For US congressional activity in this matter, read here.

(Mr. FRENCH. Mr. Chairman, there has been so much said in detail in regard to the make-up of the quart berry baskets and containers that my remarks will be more along the line of emphasizing the importance of the backing which our organization gives to any effort | to regulate and create a standard for packages. I succeeded to the office of business manager of the National League of Commission Merchants within the last three months, and for that reason I am a little unfamiliar with the details of this particular bill. We have created various departments, among the most important of which is a special committee on weights and measures, looking into all State legislation regarding the standardization of packages. It has been most active recently.)...etc...etc...

  • Thanks for the Answer. As I asked in a comment before, @J.Taylor. - So is it not a word I should use in general conversations (as the meaning which frost has used it for)? Feb 22, 2018 at 7:51
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    @Rohit Shekhawat..no, do not use the word quart to mean a container.
    – J. Taylor
    Feb 22, 2018 at 11:05

A quart is a quarter (one-fourth) of a gallon. That's liquid measure. The so-called dry measure is an approximation based on volume more or less, with a few standards having evolved over the years into legally defined quantities. As with Frost's New England poem, the dry quart is a somewhat old-fashioned country or farm term. As he uses it, it implies that the people involved are farm folk, not city slickers ... who probably would use weight instead of volume, anyway.

  • Thanks Doctor Dee! Your answer was really helpful. It also seems to me that Robert Frost has used country term with context to the theme of poem. Feb 22, 2018 at 7:47

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