How Life Of Robert Frost Is Depicted Inhis Works
Robert Frost – Relating To Life Experiences
Robert Frost – Relating to Life Experiences The Road Not Taken, Mending Wall, Birches, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Robert Frost is remembered as one of the most popular and honored poets of the twentieth century. (Mertins- Frost) His popularity is partly due to his experiences and the universal themes that he uses to create his poems about relationships, nature, and the world. (Mertins- Frost) Frost’s experiences in life help him to create the vivid scenes he sets within his poetry. Among the poems that relate to his own life experiences are ” The Road Not Taken, Mending Wall, Birches, and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” In “The Road Not Taken” Frost begins by describing the choice the narrator must make when the path he is traveling ends in a fork. The traveler decides to take the path that is less traveled, knowing that he may never return to see the other. “The Road Not Taken” is a metaphor for the narrator’s travels through life. He comes to a point in his journey where he must make a decision about the direction his life will take. One Path looks like it would be easy for him and the other would be more difficult. It could, perhaps be compared to choosing a career that would be less work, or a career that would be challenging. The narrator, of course, chooses the challenging one, and is obviously quite satisfied with his choice, for he says that it has “made all the difference.” (Frost) Frost is suggesting to his readers that when faced with decisions in their lives, the road that seems the most challenging may often be the most rewarding. It is a lesson that should be taken to heart, for Frost may have uncovered the secret to a satisfying life.
Robert Frost states himself that “The Road Not Taken” was written about a friend who had gone off to war, a person who knew that when looking back at the choice of which road to take, that taking the more challenging one, in this case going off to war, would be the most satisfying for him. (Mertins- Frost) He knows he gave up a good portion of his life and that his life might not be the same when he gets back from the war, but to him serving for his country would be more rewarding. This stuck in Frost’s head and he couldn’t bear not to write a poem about it. (Mertins- Frost) “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost was said to be one of his favorite poems. (Mertins- Frost) Mending Wall is about the building of a wall between two men and their houses, however, looking deeper into the meaning, the poem seems to suggest the establishing of boundaries between elements of the physical world as well as the inner world. This seems to be suggested not only by the poem but also by Frosts’ upbringing as he always showed a great appreciation for nature and sharing the world in all of his poems. (Thompson) The two neighbors in this poem seem to be building the wall initially about territory, but if we look deeper into it, it seems to be more about marking boundaries to stop arguments. The neighbors do not share the same ideology about the building of the wall. It seems as though they must repeat this task every springtime, but whereas one neighbor does it through tradition and because he wants to, the other appears to be just going along with it; he does not seem to understand. The title itself “Mending Wall” seems to suggest something about the poem.
The adjective “Mending” takes the gerund, which means it, is talking about the present. Perhaps this suggests that the task is continuous and always there. Also the fact that it is not called “Mending The Wall” or “Mending A Wall” suggests that it is not just one wall, but it can be any wall anywhere. The title it is given makes the meaning of it very universal. The overall tone of “Mending Wall” being quite ironic at times, to quite uninterested at others, gives the poem quite a human feel. This adds to the spontaneous effect. Plus with the use of actual dialogue in the poem, it feels as though what is not the neighbor’s speech in the poem is actually Frosts’ speech, perhaps what he was thinking in his head at the time. (Thompson) In “Birches,” Frost’s words represent an easy version of the world, a spiritual place that may seem difficult but there is always something to help one through.
Earth is again the place for love and it provides a loose stability on that basis, while aspiration toward heaven offers a more spiritual kind of guidance, a contact with God, which provides a central orientation for the soul. “The conflict between the optimistic and the pessimistic conceptions of the world is the source of the basic ambiguity and the tension in Frost’s work” (Thompson) This poem seems to be entirely about woods and trees. As the name implies, this is the main focus though the story. They are shown as an opponent for a boy that, once beaten, though very resilient, will never rise again. He describes them as being bent down with the results of an ice storm, but that he would like to think of them as being bent over by this boy. His use of the ice storm and the boy seems to represent his wistfulness at growing old and his desire to be young again. This poem written when frost was about 45, about the time that he would have a mid-life crisis. He can see that he is no longer the young man that once he was, not able to climb the trees like he did nor able to play like that. He talks of when he was a “swinger of birches” and how he dreams of being one again. He knows that this is not a reality for him. Frost also uses the trees in this poem to represent a way to get away from the cares and trials of life on Earth. He talks of getting away and coming back to start over. Climbing “toward heaven.” He desires to be free from it all, but then he says that he is afraid that the fates might misunderstand and take him away to never return. This is like most of us today. We want to go to Heaven, but we don’t want to die to get there. In “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” Frost does not tell us anything about the narrator. We never know anything about who “I” is. The only picture that we get of “I” is that he likes the woods, the snow and the peace that is found there. I get the idea that this is a man, out on an important mission. It would have to be important to ride out on a horse in a blizzard even though they used to ride horses everywhere. Also, “I” has miles to go and “promises to keep.” This indicates a level of responsibility that would suggest the narrator is a man.
In the first stanza of Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening we find the speaker reflecting on the beauty of a wooded area with snow falling. “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) You can feel the speakers awe and reflective peace when looking into the woods that night. He doesn’t know the owner of the land but is still drawn to the beauty of the scene. Frost gives a scene that is taken into the reader and digested for a time in the speaker’s mind. It shows us that it is all right to take a minute out of a hurried hour and reflect upon what is around you, whether it is a snowy wood or a quite room. “If a reader, even the most superficial takes anything at all from Frost’s poems, it is likely to be a memorable impression created by the overwhelming presence of nature.” (Brower) “Frost visualizes man always cradled within nature, totally immersed in environment.” (Brower) “Frost’s views of nature do possess a persistent ethical or metaphysical dimension of very substantial importance in any examination of his work or of the values expressed in that work.” (Brower) This is saying that Frost basically tends to pull away from the statements of a theory of nature, or man’s relationship.
“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, is said by many people to be one of Frost’s most famous poems. “He himself always offered it as the prime example of his commitment to convention.” (Brower) As in all of his poems, Frost uses his love of the outdoors to pull the reader there as well. His style of writing tells us a lot about him as a poet. He is leery of growing old and he looks back on youth with wistfulness and longing for another, happy time. This is something that we all share with him and this shared experience helps us to enjoy his poetry all the more, as it seems to tell our own story too. His experiences in life have allowed him to become an inspired poet, whether the experiences were good or bad Frost let them out through the use of poetry.
Main Idea Of Birches by Robert Frost
Birches” is a memorable poem that is rich and interesting enough to repay more than one reading. Robert Frost provides vivid images of birches in order to oppose life’s harsh realities with the human actions of the imagination. I recommend this poem to anyone interested in reading and studying poetry that meets many requirements for excellence. However, it can not be understood from a quick once-over in a classroom. Its meaning can only be revealed by reading it over and over in a quiet setting.
“Birches” has a profound theme and its sounds, rhythm, form, tone, and figures of speech emphasize this meaning. Theme “Birches” provides an interesting aspect of imagination to oppose reality. Initially, reality is pictured as birches bending and cracking from the load of ice after a freezing rain. 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: Reality has its ups and downs. This passage suggests that people never fully recover from being dragged down by life even if they don’t seem broken.
Imagination is portrayed as “a swinger of birches.” The portrayal of the boy refines this image: One by one he subdued his father’s trees By riding them down over and over again. The boy seems to take in lessons about life from these encounters with the trees on his father’s land: He learned all there was To learn about not launching out too soon. This boy lives away from town and must play by himself. He has learned his father’s lessons. Imagination is the gift for escaping reality that each one of us possesses. We do not have to depend on anyone to take a mental vacation. Mastering your art of imagination will increase your ability to handle the bad things life dishes out. That’s why the narrator advocates using imagination. On Earth we can become weary from life’s everyday occurrences–that “pathless wood.” However, Earth’s the place for love–not hate, weariness, or any negative feelings. Therefore, use imagination to come back to reality relaxed. At the end, the narrator imagines climbing the birch tree “Toward heaven”–to the top and swinging a branch down to the ground. Suddenly he sounds relaxed and carefree. Isn’t this better than the villain “Truth”? It sounds like imagination works.
CONSIDERATIONS OF CRAFT
Sound Often you must have seen them Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning After a rain. This passage begins the visual journey through the woods. In this journey, Frost wants the reader to see the birches as they really are and as they seem in a series of pleasant images. Part of the realism comes from the sound of passages like this one: They click upon themselves As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel. Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells Shattering and avalaching on the snow crust– Frost’s alliteration–here the repetition of /z/ and /s/ and /k/ sounds–lets us hear as well as see the birch trees after a freezing rain and the morning after as the melting begins. The /k/ sound in “crack” and “crazes” mimics the sound of the ice in the breeze “shattering” and crashing “on the snow crust.” It also imitates the crunch of snow under the weight of boots. The /s/ and /z/ sounds suggest the rising breeze–his use of /s/ sounds increases as it rises. These sounds also suggest the scratch and swish of birch branches scraped on the crust.
Perhaps they also imitate the swish of layers of warm garments rubbing together as you walk. These sounds contribute to the tone, or attitude, concerning “Truth,” or reality. The upheaval caused by the breeze and the sun’s warmth portray a shattered, uncomfortable feeling. Life is full its peaceful ups; however, it also consists of shattering downs. CONSIDERATIONS OF CRAFT Rhythm and Form “Birches” consists mainly of blank verse: unrimed iambic pentameter, as in the lines below. …………./………../…………../…………/…………../ When I see birches bend to left and right ……../……………/…………../……………/…………./ Across the lines of straighter darker trees, However, Frost deviates from this pattern to emphasize certain lines that give clues to the theme. Lines 3, 5, 23, and 30 each contain the word “them,” meaning the birches. Lines 14 and 15 rime and also deviate from the pattern of iambic pentameter: ……………………./……………………/…………../…………./…………/ They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load …………../………/…………………/…………………../……………………../ And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed The meaning reflected in the lines scanned above plus the next line: “So low for long, they never right themselves:” add up to dramatize what life’s “downs” will do to a person. Lines 42, 50, and 54 contain the rimes be, me, and tree, which emphasize that the narrator wishes to be in his imagination, that he identifies with the imaginary boy who was “a swinger of birches
CONSIDERATIONS OF CRAFT
Tone The poem communicates an attitude about imagination and reality. The choice of certain words and certain details makes it clear that the speaker prefers imagination but is aware of reality. Initially, the forest scene describes “crystal shells/ Shattering and avalanching on the snow crust–/ Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away.” The words “shattering and avalanching” give the feeling of calamity and perhaps fear or sorrow. A disturbance in the universe is suggested by the “heaps of broken glass” that make it seem as if “the inner dome of heaven had fallen.” Since Truth is linked to the ice storm, the speaker sees that the reality is that ice storms have bent down the birches. There is a turning point that informs the reader that the villain “Truth” has butted into the poem. The speaker, who was getting whimsical and nostalgic about girls drying their long hair “in the sun,” admits that “Truth broke in/ With all her matter-of-fact about the ice storm.” But now it’s imagination’s turn.
The speaker’s huffiness about truth pushes reality aside for the more refreshing view of imagination. The comforting image of the boy who “one by one . . . subdued his father’s trees” pits art against the destructive chaos of reality. The boy refines his art of imagination by persistence– And not one but hung limp, not one was left For him to conquer. He learned all there was To learn . . . . This scene is softer than the scene of the ice storms in lines 5 – 15. But the point of this opposition between imagination and reality, the boy vs. the ice storm, doesn’t come until years later at the end of the poem. The frustration of life sometimes makes it “too much like a pathless wood.” After disclosing that he himself has been “a swinger of birches” the speaker confesses that he yearns to return to those days in his imagination to get away from the frustrations, the shatterings of real life. The last line, “One could do worse than to be a swinger of birches,” sounds relaxed, thoughtful, resolved. After having taken a mental vacation into the forest, the narrator comes back to reality refreshed, ready for love and ready to face reality again. Isn’t this one purpose of all art–paintings, movies, literature, sculpture, music–to refresh us by drawing on our imaginations so that we can use our dreams or our memories to survive day-to-day, matter-of-fact reality? “Birches” is no ode to winter; it is more a tribute to the power of imagination. Frost uses several figures of speech to stress certain points and add freshness to the poem. For instance, Frost gives human qualities to “Truth” in the personification about interrupting. This striking personification alerts the reader that “Truth,” or reality, is a major part of the theme for this poem.
Similes heighten both sides of the contrast between truth/reality and imagination/memory. The nostalgic image of “girls on their hands and knees that throw their hair/ Before them over their heads to dry in the sun” begins with the simile-signal “like.” When describing life “like a pathless wood,” Frost uses imagination to depict reality. So imagination even subdues or overcomes reality. The last line, “One could do worse than to be a swinger of birches,” understates the theme. If imagination can be equated with art, the last line may suggest that one could end up in a worse life pursuit than being an artist, or a poet. Major Assets “Birches” is a memorable poem. It is lengthy and complicated enough to give the reader something to discover every time it is read. In the poem, Frost uses several tools of the poetic craft to depict the theme. “Birches,” written in generally unrimed iambic pentameter, includes rimes and variations in rhythm that stress major points of the theme. “Birches” also contains several figures of speech and vivid language to depict reality and the power of the imagination. A good poem should stir the reader and touch the emotions. This poem advocates using the imagination to deal with life’s downs. In today’s harsh, hectic world, this message definitely hits home.
Major Drawbacks One major drawback of “Birches” is that the reader must be careful not to take the wording literally, at face value. “So was I once myself a swinger of birches” does not necessarily mean that the narrator used to hang off of trees like Snoopy, and the statement “And so I dream of going back to be” does not necessarily mean that the speaker wants to climb a birch tree. The important word is “dream.” It’s our dreams that steel us against the branches of reality that lash across our open eyes. The poem must be reread again and again to see what the narrator is referring to by taking each statement in the context of surrounding lines and the larger context of the whole poem. The narrator has been imaginative, has subdued reality with the power of the dream, and so he wishes to again. Another example lies in the line “One by one he subdued his father’s trees.” We know the ice storms bent the trees, that the boy did not conquer his father’s forest. Instead the reader must reread to find that with imagination the boy is able to subdue life’s downside, perhaps overcoming the setbacks that his father endured and may now afflict the speaker, who dreams of using imagination to overcome difficult times. It is also hard for a first-year college student to get past the pretty nature poetry. I could picture a winter scene: “As the breeze rises” and the effect of “the sun’s warmth” on the sheaths of ice covering the tree branches. But this is where I ended the scene. I did not picture the shattering of ice “on the snow crust” like “heaps of broken glass to sweep away.” Initially, I did not get the shattered feeling; I felt the scene was peaceful.
I enjoyed reading “Birches,” and I believe my reaction is both personal and aesthetic. This poem was lengthy and complex enough to contain many of the aesthetics of an excellent poem. I will always remember the vivid images provided by Frost’s use of figures of speech and sound. This poem also stirred my feelings. I work in a very high-pressure business environment and sometimes I escape by daydreaming. I long for the day when I have my own business. I believe my reaction is not typical of first-year students; most would be “put off” by this poem’s length and complexity. Many, however, would look at this poem as a possible wealth of information or as a manual for defending oneself against the onrush of reality
General Characteristic Of Birches Poem
“Here was a man who now for the first time found himself looking into the eyes of death–who was passing through one of those rare moments of experience when we feel the truth of a commonplace, which is as different from what we call knowing it.” (GEORGE ELIOT, Middlemarch) The poem “Birches” written by Robert Frost, is a very complex piece of literature focused around the concept of life. This particular piece of writing is packed full of figurative devices that forces the reader to view the poem beyond words. Through a creative structure, Frost recreates an end of life experience, which exposes the conflicted themes by using many different literacy devices.
Frost begins by giving the central image of the poem by letting the reader know exactly what is about to happen. The style of “Birches” is a free verse of numerous variations on the prevailing iambic foot. Although visually, the poem doesn’t have any more than one selection, it is broken down into five different sections based on changes in the topic as well as the speaker’s ideas. These breaks do not jump out to the reader right away. Instead, along with the speaker’s beliefs, they depend on the reader developing a strong understanding of the poem.
The poem begins by giving the reader background information until line five, when it precedes on to the truth. This truth later changes to fiction due to paradox. It is then followed by what (at first) is fiction. Next, Frost delivers the reader with the reality and connects the speaker to the previous lines, followed by a resolution in the way the speaker feels. Frost uses extreme use of contrast because the speaker whom Frost describes in his poetry are forced to choose between rationality and imagination, and the two cannot exist at the same time.
The title “Birches”, introduces the reader to the controlling metaphor. The birches have a symbolic representation to the speaker as his childhood and are known to him as a way to go back to being a “swinger of the birches” (Frost, 42). He using literally devices to unfold the controlling metaphor throughout the poem. Frost presents the speakers conflict with the title, because the speaker wants to use the birches to go back to his childhood, due to fact that his life right up to this point has been very lonely and awful. This is the first thing we learn about the speaker through poetic devices, but it is just the beginning of them in the poem.
Without direct indication from Frost, the reader is able to figure out that the speaker in this poem is an older man. Frost provides the reader with information to assume that by having the speaker say “So was I once myself a swinger of birches; and so I dream of going back to be” (Frost, 41 and 42) which reveals to the reader that the speaker is older because “a swinger of birch” (Frost, 41) is described as a young boy, so revealing the speakers gender. The old man lived nothing close to a happy life, and is filled with regret, dreaming constantly that he could live his life back over again. Not only did he have a poor childhood “whose only play was what he found himself” (Frost, 26), but he also lived the rest of his life alone “some boy too far from town to learn baseball” (Frost, 25) … “Could play alone” (Frost, 27) and without love. Through more indications from the poem we discover that this man also has interior battles that he faced on top of everything else and through the paradox this conflicted state of his mind is revealed.
As indicated earlier in the first section of “Birches”, background information is given, because the reader needs it to understand the rest of the poem correctly. “I see birches bend to left and right” (Frost, 1) is an example of visual imagery, followed by an example of a symbol “darker trees” (Frost, 2). The first section also gives us two sets of opposites “left and right” (Frost, 1) and “bend… straighter” (Frost, 1-2) which are used along with the rest of this section to provide the reader with the main conflict in the speaker’s life along. This section also is contrast because it is looking at an image and speculates on the reason why the trees are bent, one is the truth and one is what the speaker wishes the truth was. Not only are these the beginning of the many literacy devices used but it also leads us up to the paradox.
The second section of the poem is the beginning of the paradox. Frost starts out by providing us with the truth behind why the trees are bent by saying “But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay/ As ice storms do…” (Frost, 4-5) but later on we learn that this so called truth really turns to fiction. In this section we get to experience many examples of imagery from sound when talking about how the tree branches “click upon themselves” (Frost, 7) to sexual imagery when the speaker uses the words “like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair before them over their heads to dry in the sun” (Frost, 19- 20). This is an example of sexual imagery he uses in the poem describing an intimate experience, because it is something that he never got to experience in his life. We also see Frost using devices such as onomatopoeia when he uses the words “cracks and crazes” (Frost, 9), and a simile when comparing the trees to the “girls on hands and knees” (Frost 19). This section like the rest of the poem is packed full of literacy devices.
The capitalization on the word “Truth” (Frost, 21) shows the reader the difference between what is actually happening compared to what’s happening in the speaker’s head and also represents personification. “With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storms” (Frost, 22) is an example of dramatic language. In this third section of the poem the reader also gets to see the first time the speaker is talking to someone by asking “now am I free to be poetical?” (Frost, 23) which is the final piece of information we get before the paradox. The reader learns that the ‘truth’ to this poem is very imaginative to the speaker and he might actually believe that there is a capital “T” in truth (or a hidden truth to everything). The tone in the poem is also revealed her because you get to see that the speaker doesn’t like reality and doesn’t want to believe the truth at all. When the speaker says “with all her matter of fact” (Frost, 22) he is being sarcastic and this proves that he has a negative/ angry tone towards it all. Once again Frost took every opportunity to use literacy devices in this section.
Fiction is what we’re provided with next in section four but this quickly changes to truth in the poem’s paradox. When the speaker sees the trees bent down, even when he knows the “truth” (Frost, 21) about why they are he still believes himself that a young boy swinging on them is what caused them to bend. Sexual imagery is used again and when the speaker says “by riding them down over and over again until he took the stiffness out of them, and not one but hung limp” (Frost, 30-33) which although appears to be talking about the trees, it is ametaphoric, a description of masturbation. An allegory is also used in lines twenty-four to twenty-eight because the one words “one… not” (Frost, 32) are used four times. The speaker uses this time to describe his life as a boy which we learn was a very unsatisfying youth. When he says “learn about not launching out to soon” (Frost, 34) he isn’t really talking about the boy on the trees, but actually talking about living life to the fullest which is something he didn’t do. This leads the reader to a lot of regret and he wishes more than anything that he could go back and live his life over again, this time full of love, but due to his religion that wish is shattered when he knows it’s not possible for him to return back to earth again, but is also worried that heaven wont be able to provide him with love either, Assonance is visible through the word “swish” (Frost, 40) some of the final lines of this section (lines thirty-six to thirty-nine) show not only a comparison but also a metaphor. Again the reader is amazed by the use of literacy devices.
Section five is where the paradox gets revealed to the reader along with summing up the speaker’s thought before his final resolution. This is the only part in the whole structure that has a break before it representing a transition. This section starts by revealing the paradox “so was I once myself a swinger of birches; and so I dream of going back to be” (Frost, 42-43) which turns the whole poem’s structure to turn into one big opposite and forcing section two and four to exchange meanings and leaves the reader questions truth? The controlling metaphor is also in this section: “I’m weary of considerations, and life is too much like a pathless wood” (Frost 44-45). Along with all the other imagery Frost uses tactile imagery, so the reader can feel “your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs broken across it, and one eye is weeping from a twig’s having lashed across it open” (Frost, 46-48) Fate and religions get revealed to the reader by Frost in this section as well. Not only does the reader know that the speaker is a Christian based on earlier mention of “dome of heaven” (Frost, 13), but now the reader knows about reincarnation through “may no fate willfully misunderstand me and half grant what I wish and snatch me away not to return” (Frost, 51-52) but he wants to believe that he can leave earth but then come back again to relive another life. Paganism (also known as mythology) now is also visible in “Birches” because of the speaker’s rage against Fates, the job of the three fate is to determine the way your life goes, and even when the speaker knows that if you yell at them they will make your life awful he continues to yell at them. Frost not only uses literacy devices but also uses other devices to create another excellent poem.
The speaker comes to a resolution in the final section of “Birches” by finally accepting the fact that he will die and no be able to return to live another life. It sums up all his previous thoughts and condenses the whole poem and the theme which is to live your life to the fullest because if not you will only be filled with regret in the end, even if you live life to the fullest and mess something up it will be better than not taking that chance and things can always be worse. The word “toward” (Frost, 47) which is also in italic shows that he went towards heaven but never reached it because the tree couldn’t hold anymore. This whole part of the poem is an example of thematic imagery because it provides the reader with an image that relates to the theme (metaphor) of the whole poem. An example of analogy is also present by Frost using the words “climbing a birch tree” (Frost, 55) and when he uses “swinger of birches” (Frost, 60) this represents repetition because it is used over and over again throughout the poem. The second last line of the poem says “that would be good both going and coming back” (Frost, 58-59) shows that although he must go and leave earth for awhile, he needs to return in order for him to be complete. The tree is a perfect analog for the speaker to explain his feelings, and solution because the trees is rooted to the ground and even when the tree grow far above the ground “towards heaven” it is still rooted in the ground, so the person climbing the tree is always still connected to the earth. Once the reader finishes the poem, Frost leaves the reader with the same paradox due to the amazing usage of literacy devices in other words the reader of the poem is left questioning the truth, and wondering if their own lives are missing important elements that will regret later such as love.
Readers of this poem not only get the end of life experience of the speaker (older man) but also leaves the reader not knowing what the truth is anymore and they think about their own life, pushing them into the same paradox. The speaker tells the reader the way his life was growing up in a very discrete but detailed explanation at the same time and this causes the reader to feel empathy for him because of the awful events the speaker had to go through. The reader also gets the setting of the poem revealed to us as being after an ice storm. The speaker’s awful, loveless, sad life forces the reader to think about their own decisions and ways of living, causing them to question themselves whether they are really living their life to full possibilities it offers. Religion is also used in a way to get the reader thinking more about the speaker’s opinions, like mentioned either Christianity is visible in “Birches” through the mention of heaven but the other two religions which are Pagan (mythology) and Buddhism are deeper in words of the poem and the reader needs to have a small understanding of both of these to see their presence in this particular piece of Frost’s writing. Buddhism is noticeable through the speaker talking about recantation and the Pagan religion is shown through the mention of “fate” (Frost, 51).
Robert Lee Frost was born on March 26, 1874 and died on January 29, 1963. Often times the material in someone’s work has to do with their personal life, for example if someone has had a depressing sad life, the chance of them writing pieces that are happy is highly unlikely unless it is used to escape their reality; this is present in Frost’s work. Frost was born in California, but after his father’s death, he moved into his grandparent’s house with his mother and sister which was located in Massachusetts. Frost met the love of his life (Elinor White) in high school, they graduated together, got married and had their first child; Elliot, a year after their wedding. However, their love story had its ups and downs. Initially she turned him down when he proposed because she wanted to finish high school first. (Pritchard, 2001) They continued to face rough times that life threw at them. After their second child’s birth; Lesley, Elliot, their first child passed away. They had four more children, one passed away through suicide, one later developed a mental illness, one died in their late twenties after giving birth herself, and lastly one who died a couple weeks after birth, all these tragic events took a major emotional beating on Frost, visible in his work. Although, Frost original wasn’t taken seriously and was turned down many times, he continued to push and stand behind his work, now today his work is used in many schools around the world, and has become a very famous poet. (Poets.org, 2008)
Throughout “Birches”, literacy devices are constantly used to provide the reader with an end of life experience of an older man. Imagery is used all throughout the poem; from sexual imagery to visual imagery. They all play a critical part in providing the reader with an image in their head while reader the poem. The structure is very creative, breaking the poem up into six different sections. It also provides truth and fiction which later switches due to the poem’s paradox. Not only is the speaker of the poem revealed as an older man, but because of the words Frost uses, the reader also gets to experience the tone he has towards the topics in the poem.
Literacy devices such as personification, transition, repetition, analogy, allegory, similes, symbols, dramatic language, comparisons, assonance, metaphors, and many more are used by Robert Frost in the poem “Birches”. The extreme use of literacy devices used, make this poem the great piece of literature it is.
The Use of Imagery, Figurative Language and Sound in “Birches” by Robert Frost
Just like Robert Frost, everyone attaches memories to certain people, places and things throughout a lifetime, some memories that even allow a departure to a time that could be seen as much easier and more tranquil that current conditions. In Robert Frost’s poem, “Birches, ” Frost begins the poem by alluding his own memories that he has attached to trees with low hanging branches and his desire to once again climb these branches in order to escape his own earthly troubles. Not only does Frost use imagery, figurative language and sound to reiterate his strong appeal and appreciation for trees, but he also uses these elements to relieve him of the present and allow himself to escape his own reality, even if only for a while.
One important element that Frost applies throughout the poem is imagery. Frost uses the vivid images of the dangling tree branches to contrast the reality or his adult life with his escape to his childhood. Frost states, “Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells 10 shattering and avalanching on the snow crust — such heaps of broken glass to sweep away you’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen”. Here, Frost clearly displays that although he would like to believe that the branches are hanging low from boys swinging on them, just as he did as a child, he knows that the truth behind the low hanging braches is the intense weather that these trees encounter. This, in turn, represents the comparison of reality and the escape of reality, and also shows that although he would like to relive what was once an easier time as a child, he fully understands that he must live in the present.
Another important element that Frost subtly depicts is the use of figurative language to compare the physical tree to a ladder that leads to heaven and allows him to escape his own troublesome life on Earth. Frost first introduces this idea when he states “I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree, and climb black branches up a snow white trunk toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, but dipped its top and set me down again”. Here, it is clear that the tree’s branches represent a way for him to depart from the fray of life and to ease his own thoughts and troubles because as a child this was the way to his own happiness. In addition, Frost uses the tree and its branches to relate it to a vehicle. Just as people use cars to get from one point to the next, the idea of swinging on the tree branches provides the narrator with a means to leave the earth, but only for the amount of time that he swings upwards, as it is clear that what goes up must come down. With that being said, Frost even goes to say that he has mastered how to not launch or land too soon which allows him to preserve the branch height and allow multiple swings or escapes, although it is only temporary.
Lastly, Frost uses powerful sounds devices and sound elements such as repetition and onomatopoeia. Although Frost uses repetition multiple times, it is most evident when he continually reiterates the “birches bend”, “the boys swinging bends them, ” and “swingers of birches”. Here, Frost reinforces his hope to return to his childhood in order to disregard his adult responsibilities and return to a time when things were easier and life was much more carefree, a time when all he worried about was finding a new tree to be able to swing from. In addition to repetition, Frost also uses onomatopoeia to contrast the delicate image of tree swinging as a child with the harsh reality of the “shattering and sharp clicks” of the branches or his own life as an adult. Just as Frost understands that he can reimagine the ease of childhood that he once experienced, it is only temporary and, in the end, he must live in the present.
Frost makes it very clear that although he understands that he must live in the present on Earth now, he often enjoys being able to escape his own realities at times to return to the exhilaration of climbing his father’s trees. This was a time when his only concern was being able to master the task of swinging from the trees without bending or stirring them too low to the ground, a time when life was much easier, and a time that made him the happiest. Frost ties these ideas in with his constant use of imagery, figurative language and sound devices to further illustrate his memories and his lost hope to return to his adolescence.
Birches” by Robert Frost: Sensetive And Tender Poetry
I believe so much of poetry enlists the senses, beginning with the sense of sound. Whether it’s the rhythmic flow of the poem or the mere need to recite the words for a clearer understanding. The sense of sight can’t help but participate while one reads a poem. It’s like asking an artist to paint how he feels. Imagery is a key part of poetry creating a visual understanding. In the end poetry give a voice to the unsayable in our lives and indeed to life itself. After reading “Birches” by Robert Frost, my senses were reeling. The poem reads beautifully and is soothing to the ear. The imagery also paints a scene I have witnessed many winter days, growing up in the mountains.
Robert Frost, while knowing the realistic cause behind the bent birch trees, prefers to add an imaginative interpretation behind the bending of the birches. He also uses the entire poem to say something profound about life. I feel it is indeed a message that, yes life may get hard, and we may lose our way, but there is still innocence and beauty in our world. We just need to remember.
In the first section of the poem, Frost explains the appearance of the birches scientifically. He implies that natural phenomenon makes the branches of the birches bend and sway. Frost suggests that repeated ice storms are the real culprit to the bending branches. He however, takes the ordinary and mundane and makes it extraordinary, even comparing the breaking away of the ice from the trees to the “dome of heaven” shattering. Frost also lends sound to his description of the branches as “they click upon themselves As the breeze rises.” Frost explains the branches are bent by the ice, but do not break. Frost again adds beautiful imagery comparing the bent branches “trailing their leaves on the ground” to “girls on hands and knees throwing their hair before them to dry in the sun.” Frost, like an artist, paints a picture so beautiful of the birch trees that I can’t imagine anyone reading this poem would not have a desire to see a birch in the icy winter for themselves.
Frost then suggests that he had rather imagine a little boy causing the bending of the branches by swinging and playing on them. He begins to tell a story within the poem. It is a story of a little boy living in a rural territory, possibly a farm, going out to do his chores, like fetching the cows, but gets side tracked by both the beauty of the woods and his wanting to play. Because the little boy is in a secluded environment he is forced to entertain himself. He has become accustomed to playing on his father’s trees, one by one he would conquer them all. He has been a frequent swinger of the birches and has taken the stiffness out of them and caused the branches to bend. Frost goes on to say “He learned all there was to learn about not launching out too soon And so not carrying the tree away.” The little boy knows exactly how far to bend the branches without breaking them. Frost uses the image of filling a cup to the brim “and even above the brim” to illustrate to the reader just how close the boy is to breaking the branches. We all have filled our cups to the top and then had the challenge of carrying the cup without spilling the contents. Frost again has used a simple comparison to make his point. I, like Frost, prefer the explanation of the bent birches being caused by a little boy swinging on them. Little boys and trees seem to go hand in hand.
I find it interesting that in the beginning Frost sees the birches in the winter, covered with ice. Then in the next section, when he envisions a young boy playing on them, the image of summer comes to mind. I see this as saying, the times that we bend, are not defined by the seasons. Good times and those bending (hard times) transcend throughout the times of our lives. He goes on to say “Summer or winter” the little boy played. The defining times in our lives cannot be narrowed down to a specific event. It is an era surrounding the specific events in which we are tested/pushed to the breaking point, then we must choose to break or simply bend.
In the final portion of the poem, Frost deals with an adult’s perspective of the birch trees and how it relates to adult life. Frost is reflecting back to a boy’s innocent childhood experience. The adult yearns to return back in time to a carefree life. He says “it’s when I’m weary” and he seems to have lost his way, that he would like to “get away from earth awhile” and then come back to relive this joyous, carefree period in his life. He goes on to say don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to leave earth “not to return” for the things he loves best “the birches” are part of the earth. I am moved by the line “Earth’s the right place for love.” This line to me is HOPE. I think Frost is saying that as bad as things can get on earth, beauty and happiness and love still exist. I see the bending of the birches without breaking, as a symbol of our lives. So many people are pushed to a breaking point in life with stress, heavy burdens to bear and yet we survive and don’t break. However, as we mature, we are changed or forever “bent” by these events that never allow us to return completely to our former selves. We can choose to let these events break us or we can let the icy/hard shell break free from us and find what lies beneath has grown with character and wisdom. We all have things that remind us from time to time of a more carefree, happy period in our lives. When we remember, we cross the thresholds of time and distance. We like the “Swinger of Birches” wish if only I could go back and relive that special time. For Frost, the character in this poem is taken back to his carefree past by the birch trees.
Poetry helps us to cross these thresholds of time also. Poetry allows us to experience beauty and find a path to a long ago buried feeling or desire. “Birches” by Robert Frost is an example of such poetry. It is filled with beautiful, profound images. In an age of disbelief, “Birches” evokes feeling, a reminiscence of innocence. It speaks to what’s human in all of us.
Poem Birches and Its Crucial Themes
Robert Frost was born in 1874 in San Francisco. Descended from the New Englanders, Robert Frost is much associated with New England. In addition, most of his poems were well-known as a reflection of New England life. Despite that, he was a kind of subtle poet and generally recognized as a private man (Meyer 834). Moreover, his appearance at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy to recite “The Gift Outright” for millions of Americans was one of his most moving appearances (Meyer 835). Besides that, two years before his death, he was named as poet laureate of Vermont. He also received many awards throughout his life as a poet; Pulitzer Prize, the Bollingen Prize and a Congressional Medal (Meyer 835). Some of his work connects to reality and responsibility themes, using metaphor to evoke mental images and tones to signify the poem’s attitude.
The reality and responsibility themes appear in the poem “Birches.” Every time, the speaker sees the birches bend, he tends to think of a boy’s swinging on them. He wishes that he could swing on the birches as he did in his childhood and escape to heaven. However, he needs to accept the reality that he is an adult and cannot leave his responsibility on earth. The speaker is forced to accept that reality, “But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay / As ice storms do” (Lines 4-5). With the same theme about reality and responsibility, “Out, Out”, is about a young boy who is forced to work at yard and eventually dies during his work. The young boy works as his responsibility to continue living in this world but ends up dying. The boy’s family needs to accept the reality that bad things happen randomly regardless of gender and age; no one is to blame for the boy’s death. This speaker ends the poem with, “No more to build on there. And they, since they / Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs” (34-35) to emphasize the reality that the ones not dead should continue to live. This poem could reflect on World War I that robs and destroys children’s lives since Frost lived in the era of that war.
Like most of Frost’s poems, “Birches” used one type of figurative device, metaphor, in the poem to evoke mental images. Frost compares the hard, iced over surface of the birch trees to enamel, “the stir cracks and crazes like enamel” (9). Furthermore, “Birches” is a metaphor for the stages of life. As an example, Frost is somehow comparing the enjoyment and freedom of childhood to the struggle and burdens of the life of adults, and in the poem childhood is preferred, “One could do worse than be a swinger of birches” (59). It is the same with the poem “Out, Out.” Frost still keeps his style of using metaphor in the poem. He uses metaphor when the doctor is trying to help the young boy, “The doctor put him in the dark of ether” (28). This literally signifies the boy is being anesthetized during the struggle of surgery to save his life, but the dark symbolizes that he is dying. Besides that, the poet use personification which is one type of metaphor by comparing the buzz-saw action with human actions. The buzz-saw is personified to leap and think as humans do; the saw seems to know about the supper and leaps when it hears about supper, “As if it meant to prove saws know what supper meant / Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap” (15-16). The boy couldn’t escape from the leaping and ends up dying. Clearly, Frost uses metaphor in his poems to evoke mental images and help readers to understand the poems.
In “Birches,” Frost uses several tones to signify the poem’s attitude or style. He uses a skeptical tone in the beginning of the poem when the speaker of the poem imagines the boy’s swinging the birches that make the birches bend. However, the imagery of the boy’s swinging is discarded shortly with the real truth– description that the ice-storms bend the birches, “I like to think some boy’s swinging them/ But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay / As ice-storms do” (3-6). Apparently, these lines unveil the truth that humans cannot make the spiritual things become real. Imaginary things cannot be real things. However, when the word “Truth” appears in line 21, the tone begins to become more melancholy. In contrast, in the poem “Out, Out,” the tone seems to be very emotional in the middle of the poem. The line, “Call it a day, I wished they might have said” (10) shows the awareness of the speaker regarding terrible things that might happen. But at the end of the poem, the tone changes and there is no indication of the speaker’s feelings, “Since they / Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs” (33-34).
People interpret the poem “Out, Out,” differently in terms of the theme. Since the end of the poem is about the death of a young boy, they could conclude that the poem is about the death or losing of someone we love. In addition, the death occurs in a tragic way– losing blood because the boy’s hand is cut by a buzz-saw. Besides that, people could interpret the poem as the struggling of life. The young boy is forced to work on his family farm, perhaps because that was the culture of New England around 1916. When the hand is gone, and the blood is lost, probably, the boy is struggling to live. So, these could be other interpretations of the poem’s themes.
Frost’s poem, “Out, Out,” was compared to Tom Clark’s poem, “Hazardous Response” because both poems seem “to confront us with the fact of our shaken faith, a test of our courage in the face of sudden, inexplicable loss, and it offers a chance to “hazard (a) response” and redeem ourselves” (Rivard 10-11). But, Clark seems more direct than Frost, and he uses nine series of questionnaires while Frost uses more suspense to review the image and eloquence they began with (Rivard 11). Frost seems to use a more classical style while “Clark uses what might be termed a “multiplier effect,” a device that is entirely excessive and that threatens to become monotonous” (Rivard 11). Being born in the year 1874, without a doubt, Robert Frost’s poetry is classical. His culture nurtured him in a classical way. Frost successfully uses reality and responsibility themes, metaphor to evoke mental images and tones to signify attitude in his poems.
My Understanding of Birches Poem
Reaching For the Heavens From A Birch
Robert Frost published “Birches” in 1916 and to this day it remains one of Frosts most anthologized pieces of work. Consisting of 59 lines the poem describes a man who passes by birch trees that appear to be bent. The speaker thinks back to his childhood where he would swing from the trees and float to the ground. He would like to believe that this would be true but the truth is that an ice storm had bent the trees with ice that had stuck to the trees weighing them down. This ice eventually cracks falling to the ground, but refracting the suns rays displaying a magnificent array of colors. Despite knowing the truth the speaker chooses to believe that young children have bent the trees like he had done. He wishes to again climb the trees to escape the world for a while, and climb toward the heavens, but float back down to earth where there is love.
“Birches” is written in blank verse meaning it has no rhyme. Like most of frosts poems though it is written in iambic pentameter meaning it consists of lines of five feet, each foot being iambic, meaning two syllables long, one unstressed followed by a stressed syllable. This is where Frost uses his sound of sense (McNair, Wesley, Sewanee), an example of this would be “Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells” and “shattering and avalanching on the snow crust”.
The poem seems to have a sort of conversational flavor to it. It shifts between reality and the speaker’s imagination using words such as you and I. As the poem opens he tells us what he believes happened and we are finally told what really happened. The speaker believes that the children climb to reach the heavens but fall back down. The love that he describes is for live and himself. This shows Frosts agnostic side and the fragile belief in heaven (Fagan).
“Birches” centers itself around many themes such as youth, spirituality, balance, and the natural world we live in. It teaches us how to deal with impulse, spontaneity and structure. The speaker wishes he was a boy again and talks of climbing to the heavens (Tuten, Zubizarreta) but can only climb so far because the tree is rooted to the ground just like himself, forever stuck on this planet.
I can somewhat relate to Frosts poem in the sense that I to have wanted to escape this world on occasion, though not by climbing trees. Sometimes life can throw too much at you, and you want to get away from your worldly responsibilities and somehow shut out everything and clear your mind. Though this is not reality and Frost tells us that, as high as you can climb you and the tree are rooted to the earth and must eventually fall back down to reality.
Main Ideas of Poem Birches
Birches by Robert Frost is a poem which talks about how one must escape from reality for some time, only to return to it later. In the poem, the author discusses the topic of birch trees and how they bend after an ice storm. In his imagination, the birches are being bent by a boy who has been “swinging” them. The author prefers his imagination over the truth. The poem tries to tell the reader about balancing truth and imagination. Sometimes a person needs to escape from the harsh reality of the world, and they can only do that through their thoughts, but eventually, the person must face the truth. The poem also compares earth and heaven, and how a person can escape the difficulties of life on earth by dying and going to heaven, but if they want to fully live and enjoy their lives, they must remain on earth. The poem is very thought provoking, and encourages the reader to think about their views on life and death, and reality and imagination, which are intriguing topics. The poem uses a lot of figurative language, which makes it more understandable and relatable to the reader.
The poem Birches uses figurative language such as metaphors, imagery, and personification to help the reader understand the point the author is trying to make. In the poem, the author states that he would “like to go by climbing a birch tree, […] toward heaven”. Climbing the birch tree is a metaphor for striving towards imagination and life away from earth, just like in reality, when one climbs a tree they get further away from earth. Imagery is used when the author states, “soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells, shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust.” The use of imagery helps the reader to visualize how the ice falls from the birches, and how heavy it must be to cause an “avalanche”. This helps the reader understand how after the storm, the birch trees bend because of the weight of all the ice. This can also be a metaphor for the troubles of the world weighing down on a person’s imagination and freedom. The poem uses personification when it refers to truth, for example the author states, “when Truth broke in, with all her matter-of-fact […]”. The truth is compared to a person who abruptly ends the careless thoughts of a person’s imagination. The poem uses figurative language to effectively communicate the theme, and to make the poem more relatable to the reader.
The poem Birches expresses philosophical views about life and is effective in capturing the reader’s attention. The poem compares the differences between imagination and truth, and earth and heaven. While sometimes it is better to pick one over the other, a person must have a balance of both to experience a happy life. One can escape earth and reality and strive towards death and heaven, but to be happy they must also remain on earth and live their lives. At the same time, one’s imagination provides a great escape from the difficulties and troubles of the world. The poem uses figurative language to describe these ideas in an interesting way. It uses birch trees, and the climbing or “swinging” of them to symbolize the path between earth and heaven, truth and imagination. Birches by Robert Frost is a thought provoking poem that is easy to read because of the use of literary devices.