I really like this poem a lot. It’s playful; it rhymes like a child’s poem and is short and catchy like the famous, “ring around the rosie, pocket full of posies.” It has that same implied menace (perhaps menace is the wrong word – a similar hidden meaning) at the center that a child would not see, but an adult might be shocked to learn. Here, we are presented a dance like the ring around the rosie – I can see children holding hands and dancing around and around. There is someone in the middle, named Secret (a personification of an idea). It seems to be implied that either the children know that she is there and won’t acknowledge her, or simply can’t see her at all.
The dance is a synecodoche like “the walk of life”, in other words a smaller activity that represents all of life’s activities, or rather all of Life. When we dance in the ring, we suppose; we’re just living our lives assuming we understand everything – but there hidden in the center is someone who actually knows. Perhaps the center is that hidden world that we know is there, but can’t experience it directly. I just have to assume that Britain exists, because I see their television, read their books, hear their music and know people who have been there, but I don’t know from my own senses that it actually exists – I’m just supposing it exists.
Just as Emily Dickinson never saw a Moor, yet she knows it exists – I never saw Britain, or Africa, or the Middle East, or China, or Mars, or Saturn, or Alpha Centauri, or Heaven, yet I know they exist (well, kind of hoping about that last one). But there is a person who does know for certain and her name is Secret.
The Secret Sits
by Robert Frost
We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.