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| Robert Frost’s Poems Essay

Robert Frost Poems Analysis Example

Robert Frost’s poems are well-read and discussed, because the issues they examine are timeless and will never go out of fashion. They are easy to read, but not so easy to understand, allowing various interpretations. They transcend the boundaries of time and place, focusing on the exploration of human nature that is versatile in its beauty and contradictions. Due to the poet’s outstanding talent to “pack” each line with meaning, readers enjoy interpreting Frost’s poetry Fire and Ice, Birches, Mending Wall, The Road Not Taken, and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.

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Fire and Ice Poem Analysis Line by Line

Fire and Ice is a short nine-line-long poem that touches upon a controversial issue, which is broadly discussed these days, namely the end of the world. The narrator contemplates the two natural forces, fire and ice, both pernicious in their destructive power. As these elements are opposed to one another, readers experience conflicting emotions often associated with them – passion or desire and hatred, which are equally destructive for human beings. Frost’s metaphorical rendering of the two elements is the most significant. The world is usually recognized as a metaphor for the relationship. Too much passion or desire, as well as too much hatred or indifference, have a harmful impact and can easily bring about the “end” of the relationship. Besides the vivid imagery, Frost uses other literary devices to convey his ideas.

Musical devices, such as the use of the sound [ai] in “fire”, “ice”, “twice”, “suffice” and sound [ei] in “hate”, “great”, help to create a feeling of a nursery rhyme that presents a simple, yet important truth. The use of alliteration in Fire and Ice is accounted for the sing-song effect that reinforces the mood of the poem. The rhythmic pattern of the poem is iambic pentameter that changes to dimeter in the second, eighth and ninth lines and tetrameter in the fifth line. The change in meter signifies the importance of certain parts of the poem, making the reader pay attention to the previous lines. Frost combines skillfully the contemplations about the world’s end and destructive feelings in relationship.

Birches Robert Frost Analysis

Frost’s poem Birches, written as a blank verse, consists of 59 lines that call for various interpretations and levels of understanding. The tone of this poem is somewhat reminiscent, contemplative, and weary. Memories of childhood, anguishes, and trials of adulthood are intricately interwoven into the fabric of the poem. Frost describes his childhood in a light-hearted and simple manner that evokes a myriad of warm and positive feelings in the readers. However, ease and happiness are quickly changed to weariness that many adults feel, when they advance in years and approach the end of their lives, wishing for peace and rest.

The birch trees stand for human lives. The ice storm is a metaphor for life, while tree-climbing is a metaphor for human aspirations. The transition from childhood to adulthood is not easy and often painful and compared to bending a tree: “They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load, / And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed / So low for long, they never right themselves: / You may see their trunks arching in the woods / Years afterwards” (14-18). For Frost, “life is too much like a pathless wood”.

Branches and cobwebs that cling and whip a person’s face symbolize hardships and problems that people eventually overcome, as they continue their journey through life. The poet unambiguously expresses his belief in reincarnation in the lines: “I’d like to get away from earth awhile / And then come back to it and begin over”. Frost reminds readers that there may be many moments in life, when people would feel like giving up, yet difficulties make us stronger.

Mending Wall Robert Frost Analysis

Another example of Frost’s literary eminence is the poem Mending Wall. It is also written as a blank verse. The forty five lines are narrated in the first person. Frost maintains iambic stresses, but he is flexible with the form, probably, in order to create a conversational tone of the poem. The latter is also achieved with the help of the occasional internal rhyme and the use of assonance of the end-words (for example, “wall”, “hill”, “balls”, “well” or “game”, “them”, “him”).

Frost creates two distinct characters that have different ideas on being a good neighbor. The speaker sees no convincing reason to repair a wall, while his neighbor is convinced that “Good fences make good neighbor”. Nevertheless, they meet and undertake the task more out of tradition than real necessity. Frost, thus, juxtaposes two types of thinking or mentality, namely old-fashioned, represented by the neighbor, and modern, expressed by the speaker. The writer obviously wants readers to answer the question, whether the borders are necessary for maintaining relationships with people.

Although the narrator is skeptical about his neighbor’s desire to keep a wall between them, he actually initiates wall-mending and is more active in the undertaking. Perhaps, his skeptical questions can be interpreted as feeble attempts to justify his behavior, which does not differ from his neighbor’s. Both men cling to the concepts of property, ownership, and individuality. The act of mending a wall brings two men closer and allows them to develop their relationship through the joint action.

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Analysis

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening is one of the most well-known Frost’s poems. It seems to be very simple on the surface, but it has a hidden meaning. Simple wording and complex rhyme scheme create a soothing or rather lulling tone of the poem. It is made up of four almost identically construed stanzas. Each line has four stressed syllables in iambic meter. Within the first three stanzas, the first, the second and the fourth lines rhyme (“know”, “though”, “snow”; “queer”, “near”, “year”; “shake”, “mistake”, “flake”), while the third line sets up the rhyme for the following stanza. The last stanza is the exception with the rhyme scheme dddd.

The superficial reading of the poem will focus on the man who stops by woods on a snowy evening in order to absorb the beauty of the scenery in front of him. He is tempted to stay longer, but suddenly remembers his obligations and considerable distance he has to travel before he can rest for the night. A more reflective reading cannot overlook obvious symbols scattered throughout the poem. “Woods” seems like an extended metaphor for death.

The line “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep” (13) helps to visualize the image of the woods. The speaker is definitely marveled at its beauty in winter snow, but he remains outside. Frost hints that there are a few steps that separate people from the afterlife. The word “sleep” in the last two lines may also refer to death. The fact that the line is repeated twice emphasizes its meaning. “Promises” stand for the responsibilities that the speaker has to fulfill to his society and, therefore, cannot accept the enticing peace of the woods. He has “miles to go” or, in other words, many things to do before passing away.

The Road Not Taken Analysis

The Road Not Taken is a poem that consists of four stanzas and has the rhyme scheme abaab. This poem is about the importance of the decisions people make, the dilemmas they face at certain points in their lives. The themes of The Road Not Taken range from individualism, caution to commitment, and acceptance of a challenge. Paths in the woods are metaphors that stand for the lifelines. The speaker does not moralize about the choice, but he emphasizes that it is inevitable, and one has to advance in years to understand its implications. The speaker examines both paths carefully and chooses the second, “Because it was grassy and wanted wear” (8).

Through the vivid imagery of a lush forest atmosphere, the poet conveys the speaker’s contemplation about his choice. The tone of the poem is dubious, and it depends more on the reader than the writer. Those, who read it on a positive note are likely to pay more attention to the ending lines that celebrate look on the bright side attitude: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,/ I took the one less traveled by,/ And that has made all the difference”. However, others may notice a regretful tone of the speaker who looks back on his life and feels a pang of nostalgia. The “sigh” in the twentieth line can either mean relief or happiness, sorrow or regret, whatever the reader chooses.

Summary

The universality of the experiences described by Frost has brought him not only the worldwide acclaim, but also makes him a perfect model for emulation. In Frost’s poems nature is an embodiment of human virtues and vices. The poet favors images of nature with its simplicity to render the complexity of human beings and their existence in general. He discusses man’s estrangement from nature and man’s relationship with it. He also focuses on man’s mortality and ever present search for meaning. Although his poems do not shy away from the dark and depressing aspects of life, his speakers embrace living.

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