Self-improvement througth Frost
“The unexamined life is not worth living”
The great philosopher Socrates stated these ideas and made it his duty to fulfill his own reasoning. He knew that as human beings, we are a complex system of nature’s product that is still very enigmatic to our selves. Thus in order to fully comprehend one self as an individual, one must look inward and seek the cause and function of one’s own natural condition. Many methods are effective in one’s search, and this fact holds evident to our own differences, some use social interaction as a form of investigation, while others may find solitary confinement as a more productive approach. Through my own personal path to clarity and understanding, it has proved invaluable to myself that the reading of literature and poetry has a profound effect upon fulfillment. By associating oneself into the thoughts and theories of the writer, one can gain an insight into their personal condition. In particular, Robert Frost includes much thought and examples into his own behavior as well as others. Through the analysis of Robert Frost’s poetry, one attains an insight into oneself, and a deeper perspective of the human condition. Poems such as “The Death of a Hired Man”, “The Road Not Taken”, and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” all are incorporated with his thoughts of the natural human condition, and delve into his own definitive bearing.
Poetry, he wrote, was “one step backward taken,” resisting time-a “momentary stay against confusion.”(Baym 1116) The confusion that Frost recalls is the chaos that is included in the search for oneself, and poetry to him was an elapse from the confusion. It
gave him comfort to read and write of his thoughts, emotions, and beliefs, and analyze them in a humanistic nature that many could relate to and enjoy. In the 1930s when writers tended to be political activists, he was scene as one whose old-fashioned values were inappropriate, even dangerous, in modern times. Frost deeply resented this criticism, and responded with a new hortatory, didactic kind of poetry. (Baym1116)
This style of poetry created an atmosphere that urged the reader to generate perception into the moral subject and envision the meaning behind them. Frost shared with Thoreau and Emerson the belief that everybody is a separate individuality and that collective enterprise could do nothing but weaken the self. (Baym 1116) This theory that Frost shared with the famous transcendentalists conveys that he was a firm believer that ones freedom of others is essential the development for the further understanding of oneself. To many transcendentalists the pure act of coexisting within nature as an entity, creates a sense of closeness and spirituality within the human mind that is open to hear it.
Frost opens the eyes of many to the griefs of country life in “Death of a Hired Man”, where he explores the humanistic conditions of belongings, empathy, intolerance, and dignity. Mary and Warren’s farm was Silas’ only place to call home, where he knew he would always be accepted even if he weren’t welcome. Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in. (Frost 1122) This was home for Silas, even if his rich brother lived thirteen miles away, who was a “somebody”, Silas wouldn’t be made ashamed to please hi brother.
This powerful and sound dignity stressed by Frost, exemplifies his stern belief to uphold ones own pride in oneself. Also Silas wanted to return with one other wish than to ditch the meadow, he told Mary that he wants to teach Harold, to pass on his one true talent. The human need of belongingness is
very evident within Silas as he hopes to pass on his skill and teach his wisdom to others, to belong and to have something to belong in. He thinks that if he could teach him that, he’d be some good perhaps to someone in the world. (Frost 1122) Silas wanted to have a last hope for himself, to save his last self-respect. Silas is a character that Frost uses very well to convey his personal ideals of the effect that belongingness has on deprived humans.
Another character that Frost portrays to the reader as certain elements of humanistic qualities is Mary. After so many years he still keeps finding good arguments he sees he might have used. I sympathize. I know how it feels to think of something right to say too late. (Frost 1120) Mary’s empathetic morals are her strongest features. She feels very sorry that Silas will end his life with nothing. Poor Silas, so concerned with other folk, and nothing to look backward to with pride, and nothing to look forward to with hope. (Frost 1122) Frost uses light as a soft method to urge his view of her tenderness to Silas and its importance to his well being.
“Part of the moon was falling down the west,
Dragging the whole sky with it to the hills.
Its light poured softly in her lap. She saw it
And spread her apron to it. She put out her hand
Among the harp like morning-glory strings,
Taut with the dew from garden bed to eves,
As if she played unheard some tenderness
That wrought on him beside her in the night”. (Frost 1122)
Sympathy and tenderness are true virtues, and one may be blessed with the same if given
out to all. Mary is shown to the reader as a saint like personality, who is aware of Silas’ situation, and is willing to give her respect. Mary is Frost’s prime illustration of a being with great qualities and a tremendous feeling for the human condition. This perfect model is more illuminate due to the final character, Warren.
Warren is a stern man whose own intolerance and blunt views, limit his capacity for others pain and troubles. To Warren, Silas is a nobody, someone who has a poor conception of responsibility and proper judgment. Yet, Warren is simply very different to that of Silas. Independence and free will are the unequal components that the two diverse men share. Silas felt the home that he once know was no that of his own, so he traveled as a light wind and care free as a child.
Frost masters his own technique as he brings light upon the basic needs of humans, through Silas, Mary, and Warren. The readers are put into the situation themselves, and the ideas of belongingness, understanding, and intolerance are questioned and demand review to ones own perception to the situation of needs. This method may aid the reader to increase his or her own insight as a member to belong to, as a person of care to others, without cold feelings of intolerance.
“The Road Not Taken” is a powerful poem that Frost tells of his decisions and the impact that they have had on him as a man, as well as exploring the humanistic qualities of making a decision and fate. The poem begins as a fork in the road, with regrets that both cannot be chosen, he tells of how he looked down both as to foretell the coming, hoping to see a difference. Yet his decision was simply based on the wear of the grass, that he chose the untaken path. He indicates to the reader that the fate that one undergoes
is nothing of ones own decision, in fact very little control is ever placed in our hands. It is the attitude that one takes, that shows the difference in us. Frost finally confesses is true thoughts to the reader in the end of the poem.
“I shall be saying this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in the wood, and I-
Took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” (Frost 1128)
Here we see Frost advising to the reader that since our choice really is very insignificant, the only fulfillment one can undertake is finding the good in our choice, and being content with our being. This is not an easy perspective to handle; yet the gratification that comes with it is overwhelming. Such is a human quality that has been with us ages since. The regret that one feels due to a poor decision is simply the lack of seeking the good within. If one is to become truly content with them, the ability to look within for the good is essential. Frost probes the necessary elements of happiness, which is the most fundamental aspect of human desire. The feeling of happiness is often misguided with material means and false representation. One may own great fortunes and vast land, and still be without happiness and the content of fate. Frost sees the value of such conditioning and understands the misconception; fate is an uncontrollable force that is a part of all. The understanding of such a force is available to the open minded, and unthinkable to the blunt and obtuse.
Frost examines the very basics of life in his simple poem ” Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. The first natural condition that he explores is that of free will and
independence. We are taken away to a place of virgin beauty in the woods of a friend.
“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.” (Frost 1133)
The reader is shown that ones free will is as natural as the falling snow, and to resist those urges, is to go against ones nature. Frost not only has free will and independence, but also heeds its calls for testing, and fulfills its needs. The meaning that it has is a mystery to his horse, the horse sees no significance for the halt, and so might many others not open to the capability of such a force.
“My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and the frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.” (Frost 1133)
The darkest evening that he writes of is the winter equinox. The freedom that he expresses in the piece is one of the natural human conditions, to be free to stop when wanted, to go where wanted. The absence of such freedom is to not fulfill the natural needs of us, thus repression may arise from such an instance. Frost believes that the exercise of all natural conditions leads to a healthy individual, where proper thought and feeling may flow freely, and the extension of other conditions are allowed to be herd.
Frost then finishes with his final thoughts of death and of life. No man or women are without the conception of death and the responsibility of life. Here we see how the effect that solitary presence is such a powerful factor in ones own senses of self. With just the sight of the snow falling, and the sound of the soft wind blowing, he is taken away from the world in a momentary stay against confusion.
“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep’
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep.” (Frost 1133)
Frost is taken away buy the woods, the silence; mystery, and serenity that lure him in.
But he is coherent to his responsibilities; he knows that his work is not yet finished, and that as long as he is a man, a living man, he has to uphold those responsibilities until his sleep. Frost seems to persuade the reader that death is the absence of the human condition, yet the notion and acknowledgement of such an inevitable force is ever aware. To Frost, life is a struggle of a balance between the natural human condition, and the momentary release of them. One will never be content without the proper balance of each. Frost has that skill perfected in his poetry. The careful analysis of this poem can lead some to increase their own idea of their balance and enforce the idea that the importance of such is invaluable, thus aiding in the search for oneself as an individual.
Scientists say that the human race is the most complex and sophisticated race of all.
They say that the full understanding of such an entity is far from attainable. Robert Frost is a man and a poet who knew himself, a person who will continue to fulfill his needs as a human. His work as a poet is all the evidence that is needed to prove this thought. One may greatly benefit in the study and thought of his work, a teacher for all to learn if the mind is open. The human condition is continuously brought up in his poetry as a force to be made comfortable and understanding to. Listen to your inner condition and learn as Frost has of its great power to enrich the individual to a higher plain. Search into yourself as a book always being rewritten, ready for tuning, open for improvement.
Baym, Nina. The Notron Anthology of American Literature.
Fifth edition, vol 2. Ed. Juliae Reidhead. Unites States of America, 1998