Green foliage rests on an old stone wall, which an aged man leans against for inspiration. Beautiful verses ripple through his mind, ready to pour out of his hand to make a poetic masterpiece. This man is Robert Frost, and although the scenario is fictional, it would not be unheard of for the New England native. Robert Lee Frost was one of America’s leading 20th-century poets and a four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. An essentially pastoral poet often associated with rural New England, he wrote poems whose philosophical dimensions transcend any region.
Although his verse forms are traditional–he often said, in a dig at archival Carl Sandburg, that he would as soon play tennis without a net as write free verse–he was a pioneer in the interplay of rhythm and meter and in the poetic use of the vocabulary and inflections of everyday speech. His poetry is thus both traditional and experimental, regional and universal. After his father’s death in 1885, when young Frost was 11, the family left California and settled in Massachusetts. Frost attended high school in that state, entered Dartmouth College, but remained less than one semester.
Returning to Massachusetts, he taught school, worked in a mill and as a newspaper reporter. In 1894 he sold \”My Butterfly: An Elegy\” to The Independent, a New York literary journal. A year later he married Elinor White, with whom he had shared valedictorian honors at Lawrence High School in Mass. From 1897 to 1899, he attended Harvard College as a special student but left without a degree. Over the next ten years he wrote (but rarely published) poems, operated a farm in Derry, New York, and supplemented his income by teaching at Derry’s Pinkerton Academy.
In 1912, at the age of 38, he sold the farm and used the proceeds to take his family to England, where he could devote himself entirely to writing. His efforts to establish himself and his work were almost immediately successful. A Boy’s Will was accepted by a London publisher and brought out in 1913, followed a year later by North of Boston. Favorable reviews on both sides of the Atlantic resulted in American publication of the books by Henry Holt and Company, Frost’s primary American publisher, and in the establishing of Frost’s transatlantic reputation.
The Frosts sailed for the United States in February 1915 and landed in New York City two days after the U. S. publication of North of Boston (the first of his books to be published in America). Sales of that book and of A Boy’s Will enabled Frost to buy a farm in Franconia, N. H. ; to place new poems in literary periodicals and publish a third book, Mountain Interval (1916); and to embark on a long career of writing, teaching, and lecturing. In 1924 he received a Pulitzer Prize in poetry for New Hampshire (1923). He was lauded again for Collected Poems (1930), A Further Range (1936), and A Witness Tree (1942).
Over the years he received an unprecedented number and range of literary, academic, and public honors. Frost’s poetic and political conservatism caused him to lose favor with some literary critics, but his reputation, as a major poet is secure. He unquestionably succeeded in realizing his life’s ambition: to write \”a few poems it will be hard to get rid of. \” One of these well-acclaimed poems was \”Home Burial\”, a narrative poem that speaks of life’s tragedies. Robert Frost’s writing style is very straightforward and direct. In \”Home Burial\” the setting appears to be the background of a tragedy that centers on the death of a child.
It is important for the reader to recognize that \”Home Burial\” was published in 1914. That gives the reader a better insight to understand the husband’s reaction to the death of the child. During this time period society dictated that men should not show their true feelings. Therefore, men tended to have dealt with conflicts by working hard and being domineering. \”Home Burial\” demonstrates how one tragedy can cause another to occur. There are three different tragedies that transpire throughout this poem. The first tragedy is the burial of the child. The second tragedy is the burial of the marriage.
Finally, the most symbolic and ironic tragedy is the burial of the home. Because of unfortunate circumstances, the three things closely associated with this home become buried. All of these tragedies occurred as a result of the child’s burial. This couple’s marriage could not survive such an emotional loss. Therefore, the marriage becomes buried. When the marriage became buried, the home became its own burial spot for this family’s life. \”Home Burial\” tells a tale of tragedy in one family’s life. Robert Frost portrayed a very realistic chain reaction to tragedy in \”Home Burial\”.
Frost also went deep down into the human psyche to create a poem, which has become an analogy for many lives. Mending Wall is a poem about human nature. People have a natural tendency to build up walls. They push people out and shut people off. However, at the same time they do not want to have to build these walls. They want to have a life without walls and let everyone into their lives. Frost feels a little of both when he speaks of mending the walls. \”And on a day we meet to walk the line, and set the wall between us once again\”(Lines 13-14) The two neighbors meet and come together, yet they push each other away once again.
This shows both tendencies to come together and build walls to keep apart. The wall is just a barrier separating two people or things. The Berlin wall for example, separated two countries. It was inevitable that one day this wall would come down. Walls must come down. Walls do not make good neighbors. Walls are things like discrimination or social injustice. Frost recognized the fact that if the world had fewer walls, we would be more unified and would live in a much happier place. The use of blank verse seems to be effective in this poem because with every new line, a new idea is developed.
It is not like a poem with stanzas however because stanzas tend to focus on one idea. Frost joins all his lines together while still focusing on different ideas. He uses this style of poetry to help in developing the theme. Everything flows together yet stands apart line by line. Another work which has made Frost the well-known author he is today is \”The Road Not Taken\”. The poem shows the uncertainty as to which road of life a person should choose. It raises the evident question of whether it is better to choose a road in which much travel, or to choose the road less traveled and explore it you.
In this poem the speakers tone, diction, and setting help to illustrate the struggle a person goes through in their lives to pick the right road to travel. In the first verse of the first stanza, Frost says, \”Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,\” which is seemingly a very important part of the poem. This line is a metaphor in which Frost uses the woods to represent life. Using this as an image helps to have a better understanding of the complexity of the problem that the speaker is facing. If you were standing at the edge of some woods you would not be able to clearly see what was ahead of you, because trees and branches would obstruct it.
Life is like those woods because no one can clearly see or predict what will happen in the future, only hope to choose a path that will lead you to good fortune and happiness. Another interesting part of this verse is how he describes the woods as yellow. A word that strongly helps out the imagery, helps to describe the uncertainty of the speaker, and implies that he may be scared to even choose a path. Evidently he does not want to decide upon the wrong road and mess up the rest of his life. After reading this poem the reader should realize that below the middle diction and simplistic look that the poem is actually very deep.
It supplies its audience with a situation that each person has to face at least once in their life. That situation being that each person has to struggle to try and put his or her life on the right road. The road which leads them to what they believe to be happiness Frost’s darker side is also prevalent through the imagery of many of his poems. For example, the title of the poem \”Desert Places\”, stimulates images of loneliness, feelings of abandonment, and a general sense of isolation. The word \”desert\” is often associated with harsh living conditions and a place devoid of life.
The word it’, in \”The woods around it have itit is theirs\” (Line 5), refers to the field and suggests that the field is just there. The animals are absent too – \”smothered in their lairs\”(Line 6). The speaker is \”too absent-spirited\”(Line 7) to matter. Thus, without the care of man and without the animals the field is deserted, desolated, and lonely. The closing line \”To scare myself with my own desert places\” (Line 16), examines the manner in which people often fail to get in contact with aspects of their personalities which are undesirable or difficult to admit.
For example, the constant struggles between one’s inner feelings and the accepted social norms. \”Desert places\” also suggests that people have darkness within themselves. The absence of a meaningful self or lack of self-esteem may create feelings of isolation. \”Stopping by Woods on a Snow evening\”, also illustrates a morbid complexity to Frost’s works. The poem captures images of loneliness and indecisiveness by selective word choice. For instance, \”woods\” are sometimes connected with the unknown, darkness and isolation.
The speaker also uses phrases such as, \”darkest evening\” and \”frozen lake\” to solidify the mood of aloneness. The speaker is riding into the darkness on an unknown journey, only to find himself caught \”between the woods and frozen lake\” (Line 7). The speaker is caught between old patterns and new possibilities. The \”woods\” represent the unfamiliar while the \”frozen lake\” represents the familiar. The speaker contemplates the decision he must make: \”The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, / But I have promises to keep\” (Lines13-14).
The speaker’s journey has come to an end and he decides to return to the life that he has always known. The speaker is afraid to venture out into the unknown. Feelings of being confined to one’s particular role’ and way of being evoke emotions such as depression. In general, people live in fear of change. People are afraid to take a chance even without some guarantee. Beneath the apparent simplicity of Frost’s writings, lurks a hidden commentary on both the nature of personality and the Social/political State of society. Frost brings light to the darker side of humanity in an extremely subtle way.
Dark complexities are not obvious on the surface, however they are hidden throughout his poems in the form of symbols, imagery, and careful word choice. Frost’s poetry acts as a metaphor for life. Upon first glance things look nice and orderly, but once the surface has been scratched the darker side becomes more apparent. A Hundred Collars is another poem, which takes the common situation and brings it to the reader to empathize with. It concerns a traveler who has missed his train and is seeking refuge for the night at the only hotel in town.
Upon his arriving he finds that all of the single rooms are full and that if he wishes to have a bed for the night, he must share with a stranger. Frost is now tapping in the human psyche once again by presenting the main character with a common fear, strangers. Society has placed upon itself the mentality that someone or something unknown is bad or harmful. Frost depicts the inner struggle of the man to overcome his fear and open himself up the foreigner. In his many years of lecturing and traveling, Frost was most likely faced with this conflict.
Robert Frost, who died in 1964, led a life some would consider normal, but this ordinary man tapped into emotions and painted pictures with words that remain unmatched and untouchable. Frost took parts of life, which usually was glanced across and made them center stage. He clasped our fears and insecurities to make sense of disheartening situations. He made the weed in the back yard a eye full of verbal candy. The man is a legend. He will always remain part if the earth which he loved and the people which he inspired.