Essay, Research Paper: Robert Frost
Robert Frost is often referred to as a poet of nature. Words and phrases such as
fire and ice, flowers in bloom, apple orchards and rolling hills, are all
important elements of Frost's work. Remove them and something more than symbols
are taken away. These ‘benign' objects provide an alternative way to look at
the world and are often used as metaphors to describe a darker view of nature
and humans. In Frost's poetry, the depth is as important as the surface. The
darker aspects of Frost's poetry are often portrayed through the use of
symbolism, vivid imagery, and selective word choice. Frost's poems appear to be
simple on the surface, yet upon further scrutiny the poems reveal themselves as
elusive. Frost utilizes ordinary objects to create a deeper meaning. For
example, the poem "Mending Wall", appears to be about the differences
between two neighbors and their ideas on rebuilding a wall. On the other hand,
the wall may be viewed, in a more general sense, as a symbol to represent all
the antagonistic or mistrustful barriers that divide man from man. "The
gaps I mean / No one has seen them made or heard them made / But at spring
mending-time we find them there" (lines 9-11), illustrates the point that
people become separated without even realizing it because we become so caught up
in what is happening in our own lives. The darkness, held within the afore
mentioned quotation, is the feeling of sadness. The fact that we do not take
notice of one another creates a place that becomes more and more divided by
differences. Likewise, the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay" seems to
represent the change of seasons. But further analysis reveals that the speaker
is also paralleling the cycles of life with the change in seasons. "So dawn
goes down to day" (7) illustrates that in life as in nature, golden moments
fade away. "Then leaf subsides to leaf" (5) implies autumn, when the
leaves begin to turn gold and fall to the ground. The color gold represents the
end of life, whereas green represents new life. The poem also illustrates the
loss of innocence. As the seasons change, life progresses and innocence can no
longer be sustained. Autumn represents death. The changes in the color of the
leaves are often viewed as beautiful even though it marks the end of a season.
The end to human life creates overwhelming feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
Death, for some people, is a taboo subject. People are not overly comfortable
discussing death because of the emotions evoked. Yet, Frost has the ability to
create an awareness of the subject by using the beauty of nature as a filter.
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 it–it
is theirs" (5), refers to the field and suggests that the field is just
there. The animals are absent too - "smothered in their lairs" (6).
The speaker is "too absent-spirited" (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"
(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 struggle 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 dark 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" (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" (13-14). 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. BibliographyFrost, Robert. "Mending Wall." The Norton Anthology of American
Literature. Ed. Julia Reidhead. 5th ed. 2 vols. New York: Norton, 1998. 1119.
Frost, Robert. "Nothing Gold Can Stay." The Norton Anthology of
American Literature. Ed. Julia Reidhead. 5th ed. 2 vols. New York: Norton, 1998.
1132. Frost, Robert. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." The
Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Julia Reidhead. 5th ed. 2 vols. New
York: Norton, 1998. 1133. Frost's Darker Side
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