Literary Devices In Robert Frost’s Poetry [Essay]

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer

Robert Frost is one of the most celebrated American poets of the early 20th century. The themes of his works address the life and nature of New England. His works are powerful and memorable due to the skillful use of various literary devices. This essay shall explore literary devices Robert Frost uses in his poetry..

In four poems under consideration, “The Road Not Taken,” “Fire and Ice,” “The Lockless Door,” and “After Apple-Picking,” the author makes use of four literary devices, such as form, symbolism, imagery, and allusions. These devices help the author focusing on particular themes and ideas addressed in the texts of the poems.

Literary Elements in “The Road Not Taken”

The first poem under consideration is “The Road Not Taken,” published in 1916. It is one of the most famous and analyzed works by the author. The leading theme of the poem is the non-conformist ideas of the author, the problem of life choice, and the dilemma in making the right decision. Thus, to present his views, Frost makes use of several stylistic devices, such as hyperbole, consonance, alliteration, antithesis, metaphors, images, and allusions. Moreover, the author uses figurative language in order to enrich the meaning of his poem. One of the most significant elements is the form in which the poem is organized.

Thus, the poem has four stanzas, and each stanza has five lines (quintains). The rhyme scheme of the poem is the following one: ABAAB. For example, as in the first stanza:

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, (A)

And sorry I could not travel both (B)

And be one traveler, long I stood (A)

And looked down one as far as I could (A)

To where it bent in the undergrowth; (B)” (Frost lines 1-4).

The basic rhyme of the poem is iambic, however, with some brakes.

The form of the poem is quite complicated but very strict. The author makes use of such a structure to emphasize the content of the poem. We can conclude that form is dependent upon form and vice versa. The form of the work (rhythm and rhyme) “departs from the established norm.” The same thing happens to the main protagonist who hesitates and cannot make up the right decision and choose one “road.”

Poetic Techniques in “After Apple-Picking”

“After Apple-Picking” by Robert Frost is an excellent example of the author’s use of allusions. In this poem, Frost examines the perspective and its effect or religion and how the situation can influence one’s attitude towards this situation. To explore this question, the author makes use of allusions. Thus, the allusions are often met in the text, and they frame the main idea and make it easy to understand.

The first allusion in the text is the allusion to religion, “My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree/ towards heaven still” (Frost 1). The author addresses the Heaven to relate the rest of the poem to the area of religious beliefs. Such use of allusion helps the author to frame the whole text of the poem and make it more effective. The second allusion is an allusion to negative situations that people can meet in their lives and individual responses to these situations.

Having described several scenes of the apple gathering, the author claims, “But I am done with apple-picking now. / Essence of winter sleep is on the night” (Frost 6-7). Winter in the text is a synonym of problems, and probably death, and show how these problems can lead people to situations when they question their future and their faith.

In the text, the protagonist is giving up, but there are also other solutions to the problems, everything depends on the personal perspective. Further in the poem, the author explores the change of perspectives, “…looking through a pane of glass / I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough / And held against the world of hoary grass.” (Frost 10-12).

The author alludes to personal perspectives, claiming that the outcomes of the situation depend on how people look and interpret them. Finally, in the closing lines, the author alludes to death, “Long sleep…coming on” (Frost 41), describing it as an inevitable outcome on everyone’s life. Thus, in “After Apple-Picking,” literary devices, mostly allusions, express the main idea of the poem.

Symbolism in “Fire and Ice”

Another literary device that Frost widely uses in his poems is symbolism. “Fire and Ice” is a prominent example of this usage. The reader can notice two main symbols in the text of the poem, “fire” and “ice.” In a few lines, the author manages to show a crucial meaning of his poetry to a reader. He makes this through the usage of literary devices. Thus, the main idea explored by the author is possible “end of the world.”

Thus, Frost sees two endings, “Some say the world will end in fire, / Some say in ice” (Frost 1-2). “Fire” is a symbol of war and destruction, some nuclear explosion or death from the sun radioactive emission,” as opposed to this, “ice” is a symbol of cooling of the planet, ice age, etc.

The author also explores human deeds, such as “desire” and “hate.” Fire is associated with desire, which is regarded as a sin, “hate” is “ice” and also provides a perspective on human’s sins. Thus, fire and ice are also symbols of human’s bad behavior and how it can influence society and nature. The author claims that “the end of the world” is a result of human activity, their attitude towards each other, and the better world.

Robert Frost’s Poetic Devices in “The Lockless Door”

“The Lockless Door” by Robert Frost is filled with imagery, which has significant meaning. Almost every line of the text presents an example of it. In the poem, the author uses this device to convey his emotions. Thus, he describes the situation when people are afraid of uncertainty, which prevents them from making decisions and living a full life.

For example, Frost describes how he is afraid of “whatever the knock” (Frost 15) and shows his behavior, “But the knock came again. / My window was wide; / I climbed on the sill / And descended outside” (Frost 9-12). The author expresses the hope that he is able to rescue from the changes and return his usual lifestyle. However, the author also provides the idea that our lives can be easier and safer if we face our problems, we can start all over again.


Thus, we can conclude that literary devices that Robert Frost used in his poetry helped the author to express his ideas and provide the reader with an in-depth understanding of the themes of his poems. Metaphors, allusions, symbols, imaginary, and other literary devices are often met in his works.

The poems discussed earlier in this paper are great examples of how the author uses allusions, symbolism, imagery, and form to attract the reader’s attention to the problems discussed in the poems and make his works more expressive and understandable to a broader audience of readers.

Works Cited

Frost, Robert. “After Apple Picking”. The Literature Network. Web.

– – -. “The Lockless Door”. Poetry Archive. Web.

– – -. “Fire and Ice”. The Literature Network. Web.

– – -.”The Road Not Taken”. The Road Not Taken, Birches, and Other Poems. Ed. Robert Frost. San Diego: Coyote Canyon Press, 2010.

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