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Robert Frost's Simple Literary Style

Essay by   •  January 18, 2012  •  Case Study  •  1,537 Words (7 Pages)  •  2,528 Views

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I completely agree with this statement. One of the strengths of Frost"s poetry is his accessibility. He uses language that is close to everyday speech and he draws on images that are simple and natural. This simplicity is deceptive because his poetry contains profound thought and many layers of meaning. As Frost stated himself, "A poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom".

A good example of this is possibly Frost"s most famous poem "The Road Not Taken". It is a simple lyric with a regular rhyming scheme. The tone is casual and conversational. It explores a journey in a "yellow wood" where the traveller encounters "two roads". However, the final lines:

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference."

make the reader reassess the poem. On a deeper level, the poem is about the nature of choice and the way we make decisions in life. If you accept the "road" as a metaphor for a path in life, the layers of meaning in this poem are very obvious. I think this interpretation accounts for the poem"s popularity. We can all relate to it because we have all dealt with the consequences of decision making.

Another poem of Frost"s that is easy to relate to is "Out! Out!" It is a narrative poem that tells the tragic story of an accident on a neighbour"s farm where the son of one of his friend"s lost his life. The poet again uses everyday language to recount the story. Frost"s style is simple but very effective. At the start of the poem he sets the scene with memorable images and sound effects. The ominous nature of the saw is suggested in the onomatopoeic line, "The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard". The opening lines are long and fluid. However, the lines shorten after the accident. These shortened lines quicken the pace of the poem and heighten the tension. Frost uses personification to create a sense of the boy"s powerlessness as he is about to be devoured by the instrument:

"...At the word, the saw,

As if to prove that saws knew what supper meant,

Leaped out of the boy"s hand..."

The line revealing the child"s death, "Little - less - nothing! - and that ended it." reflects the life ebbing out of the child. Frost creates vivid pictures of this scene and it is truly heart-wrenching.

One could be forgiven for seeing this poem merely as a way of recording a tragic event. However, if you focus on the title and the last lines, the poem presents you with new layers of meaning. The title of the poem refers to a quote from "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare. It refers to the brevity of life. We see how harsh life can be and how life can be cruelly snatched away. The final lines reveal yet another layer of meaning. Frost records the reaction to the death: "And they, since they/Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs." We see how indifferent people can be to the suffering of others and it makes the event even more tragic. It prompts you though to consider your own reactions to the deaths of others. As a society we have almost become desensitised to the suffering of others and I think the poet is challenging our reactions.

Another poem of Frost"s that shares a rural background is "After Apple-Picking". I think this poem encapsulates what the poet himself said about poetry: "Poetry begins in trivial metaphors, pretty metaphors...and goes on to the profoundest thinking that we have." At its simplest the poem can be enjoyed for its musicality and sensuous imagery. There is much assonance in the opening lines, which is repeated in the end rhymes "fill" and "still". Sibilance gives a musical effect to the lines, "Essence of winter sleep is on the night/The scent of apples.." The poem reminds me of Keats" "Ode to Autumn" in the way it engages the senses and the imagination. Frost evokes the sensuousness of the harvest in a dream-like state. The farmer can smell the "scent of apples", see "magnified



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