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 :)

Here you can read the whole poem. Below I have given the particular paragraph.

In the lines -

I wonder how I should like you to come to me
And offer to put me gently out of my pain.

Robert Frost has used 'should'.

I have two questions here - First, what does this sentence mean (in the sense of using 'should' here)?
Second, what would the sentence mean if he had used 'would' in place of 'should'? Like so -

I wonder how I would like you to come to me
And offer to put me gently out of my pain.

Will it make a drastic change to the meaning of the sentence?

No, in country money, the country scale of gain,
The requisite lift of spirit has never been found,
Or so the voice of the country seems to complain,
I can't help owning the great relief it would be,
To put these people at one stroke out of their pain.
And then next day as I come back into the sane,
I wonder how I should like you to come to me
And offer to put me gently out of my pain.

  • 1
    Poetry is no place to master usage. First one masters usage, then comes the poetry.
    – EllieK
    Mar 5, 2018 at 19:08
  • Thanks for comment Ellie :) I understand what you are saying. I just wanted to know the meaning of would and should in that particular sentence in general view, not from a poetic view. Maybe you could help me with that? :D Mar 7, 2018 at 7:46
  • 1
    There is a concept in poetry written in English known as "poetic license." I do not know what other languages might have such a concept, perhaps your native language, but poetic license implies that the poet need not follow conventional, language rules in structure, usage, or fact. The poet is free to use language as they choose. The meaning conveyed by the poet is not contained in a single word but in the poetry as a whole and of course of the magic of the poetry is that the meaning may change with the audience. I think the poet means "would" when he says "should".
    – EllieK
    Mar 7, 2018 at 21:28

1 Answer 1


The question is answered in these posts: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/308332/should-instead-of-would

It seems one meaning of "should" is "would". Although this could be more British, formal, or antiquated.

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