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, then please answer my other questions as well. Thanks to all :)

Have a look at the picture of the text I have added. I have highlighted two things in the poem, which are concerned to this post.

First, the use of 'rest' instead of 'rested' seems wrong to me. Is poet's use of 'rest' really wrong grammatically? If it is not, then what difference it will make if 'rested' was used instead of 'rest'?

Second, the use of 'why keep their money' where I feel like 'why not keep their money' should be there. Is poet's sentence correct or incorrect grammatically in this case? If it is correct then what difference it will make if 'why not keep their money' was used?

I have seen this kind of grammar being used in several poems, is it a kind of a feature of poems in general?

(I'm not a native speaker, probably that's why I have these questions in my mind. I will be really happy if you could help me reach the answers to my questions.) Thanks again to all :)

enter image description here

  • What is the text? Please edit your question to add it in (as text, mind; not as an image), using bold to highlight the parts you’re having trouble with. Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 9:25
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    Of course the poet is not wrong! Analysing poetry and some literature is pointless, since both can violate the rules of grammar willy-nilly!
    – BillJ
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 9:31
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    – mplungjan
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 9:33
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    It is a general mistake to expect poetry to follow rules of grammar. That's not the way that poetry works.
    – Lee Leon
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 9:45
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    Both words are perfectly normal and grammatical here. There is no poetic licence taken, really. Rest is a noun here (your beauty rest is the same as your beauty sleep), and “why keep your money” just needs a comma for clarity: “Why, (I recommend that you just) keep your money and move on.” Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 17:11

2 Answers 2


poetic licence oxford english noun

The freedom to depart from the facts of a matter or from the conventional rules of language when speaking or writing in order to create an effect. ‘he used a little poetic licence to embroider a good tale’

as @BillJ said poets exercise exceptions!

  • Thanks Ibf! I got what you want to say :) I was just wondering about the question, so I just posted it. Now, I have a lot of information, thanks to you people :) Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 8:43

Poetry is a different animal from day-to-day prose, just as music is different from ordinary speech and industrial rumble. Frost, in particular, picked up the rhythms and odd characteristics of regional English. Though not a native New Englander (born in San Francisco on the west coast), his family were from "back East" and he moved there soon enough. A reader who did not grow up in English might profit from hearing Frost's recordings of his poems (google on line for it) to hear how they SOUND, not just LOOK. Caveat: Not all poets read their work well, but Frost certainly did.

  • Would you mind posting a link to Frost's recording of this poem?
    – Lawrence
    Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 2:02
  • Thanks a lot Doctor Dee! I understood some important points from your answer. However, I couldn't find any recording of 'A Roadside Stand', and as Lawrence said, could you maybe provide a link for any recording you found. That will be great :D Commented Feb 22, 2018 at 8:38

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