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AS and A Level: Robert Frost

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Writing about context in Robert Frost's poetry

  1. 1 Frost’s poetry spans the first half of the 20th century and is considered by some to combine 19th century American tradition with 20th century modernism.
  2. 2 Frost believed that writing in free verse was like ‘playing tennis without a net.'
  3. 3 His poems are not experimental in form or technique, but infuse traditional structures with modern idiom and the rhythms of speech.
  4. 4 Many of Frost’s poems are dramatic monologues, conveying a strong sense of ‘voice’.
  5. 5 Frost referred to poetry as a ‘refrigeration technique’ which ‘stops language from going bad’.

Themes in Frost's work

  1. 1 Frost often addresses the theme of loneliness and isolation. His narrators are invariably alone, trapped in nostalgic reflection, debating their ‘promises’ or duties to others and assessing the significance of structures which exist to impose boundaries and borders between individuals.
  2. 2 Frost makes strong use of the environment to reflect on the inner state of his narrators or express the relationship between characters.
  3. 3 Consider the use of paths, woods, walls to reflect symbolically on destiny.
  4. 4 Similarly, Frost makes strong references to the sea, darkness, snow as more abstract symbols of death and unknowingness.
  5. 5 Dramatic monologues often serve to reinforce the distance and isolation between the ‘voice’ and those about him.

Poetic techniques used by Frost

  1. 1 Frost adheres to regular rhythms but makes more erratic use of rhyme. When identifying these, be sure to comment on how these inform and shape the meanings of the poem.
  2. 2 Interestingly, it is also useful to look at exceptions, which break up the regularity of the rhythm and draw attention to particular moments in the poem.
  3. 3 Frost is generally praised for emulating the natural sounds of speech and thought in his poetry: look for evidence of varying sentence lengths, repetition, inversion, colloquialism, parenthesis, hyphenation and pausing (caesura).
  4. 4 Avoid confusing the narrator of the poems with Frost himself, however closely the content resembles his life. Refer to the voice as the ‘narrator’ or ‘persona’.
  5. 5 Frost’s language is often simple, earthy and prosaic, reflecting a vernacular in keeping with his New England identity. Consider the ways in which this informs our interpretation of his poetry.

  • Marked by Teachers essays 3
  • Peer Reviewed essays 1
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  1. Marked by a teacher

    The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost relates on both a literal and metaphoric level to the concept of a journey.

    3 star(s)

    These techniques include simple yet powerful imagery, word choice and rhyme and rhythm. Also vital in the effectiveness of this poem is the use of symbolism and the extended metaphor present. Literally this man is a traveller standing at the divergence of two roads. Metaphorically this man is in the 'autumn' of his life, suggested by the "yellow wood" and has come to the crossroads where decisions have to be made to determine the rest of his life. The subject chose "the road not taken" by others and although he ponders what lies down the unknown at the end of his life he is reminiscent and satisfied "I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference."

    • Word count: 1138
  2. Marked by a teacher

    Write a critical appreciation of Mending Wall exploring how far you think that Frost uses his observations of a simple rural event to make a significant conclusion.

    3 star(s)

    a game to him; in line 21, he states that it is "just another kind of outdoor game" and incorporates the childish idea of magic into his 'game' - claiming that he needs to use "a spell to make [the stones] balanced". In this simple and gentle view of rebuilding the wall, comes an element of sadness, when Frost must challenge the reasoning behind the wall. Whilst looking at the poem from this point of view, we can suggest that Frost builds the wall for the wall's own sake - he sees it as yearly task which must be carried out, in somewhat a ceremonial fashion.

    • Word count: 935
  3. Marked by a teacher

    Discuss Frosts use of language and setting in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening and compare with Desert Places.

    3 star(s)

    There are several other examples of his thoughts towards the Woods, and how he perceives the place to be peaceful, with a sense of great beauty and awe. He clearly states this in stanza 4; "The woods are lovely, dark and deep". By fitting 'lovely' and 'dark' together, we can begin to see that his view towards being isolated in the Woods is one which he relishes in - the idea of the woods being 'deep' suggests that he is free to roam about within a large enclosed area and still be isolated to himself.

    • Word count: 1657
  4. Analysis of Robert Frost's "After Apple Picking" and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening".

    However, Frost's ambiguous tone only hints at this morbid outcome, never truly confirming our suspicions. The persona himself is left wondering, "whatever sleep it is." Is it a "long sleep", "or just some human sleep." He wonders if he is just hibernating, like the woodchuck, but in the end, weariness overcomes suspicion and the audience is left wondering. Through use of seasonal imagery, the persona foreshadows his death, with reference to winter being made throughout the poem. The persona also states that when he saw his reflection in the "drinking trough" the reflection was "hoary" or grey with age.

    • Word count: 569
  5. Free essay

    Fros's peorty is more about people than nature. Discuss

    It looks into the choices that people make and uses the metaphor of two roads in order to show this. He acknowledges that he is unable to travel down both "I could not travel both", so is forced to travel one. He chooses to take the one that is less travelled by "I took the one less travelled by" and by doing so decides to seize the day and express himself as an individual, claiming that his life was fundamentally different than it would have been had he chosen the more well travelled path.

    • Word count: 2621
  6. Critical analysis of "Out, Out--"

    As the boy hears its dinnertime, he gets excited and cuts his hand on accident. Immediately realizing that the doctor might amputate his hand, he asks his sister to make sure that it does not happen. By the time the doctor arrives, it is too late and the boy's hand is already lost. When the doctor gives him anaesthetic, he falls asleep and never wakes up again. The last sentence of the poem, "since they (the boys family and the doctor) were not the one dead, turned to their affairs" shows how although the boy's death is tragic, people move on with their life in a way conveying the idea that people only care for themselves.

    • Word count: 770
  7. By looking at 'Birches' and 'Out, Out-' by Robert Frost, compare and contrast the ways in which the poet conveys the theme of childhood.

    The narrative way in which the poem is told shows the reader how unfortunate other people's childhood can be. "Birches" is very different as it's the speaker reminiscing about his own childhood - a childhood brimming with excitement and lived to the full. We can feel the energy and vibrancy from the line "... he flung outward, feet first, with a swish," which is in complete contrast to the "...big boy Doing a man's work..." in "Out, Out-". Since this poem was written from the speaker's own point of view, every reader can relate it to themselves and it also enables us to realise the glory and brevity of childhood.

    • Word count: 1008
  8. The poem 'After Apple Picking' by Robert Frost is one the most celebrated and widely read poems of the Romantic Period. The poem was drawn from Frosts' own life, his recurrent losses, everyday tasks, and his loneliness.

    After Apple Picking focused on ones deep feelings of suffering but also a sense of hope and transcendence. This is conveyed in the quote "Of Apple picking: I am overtired Of the great harvest I myself desired". The dramatic monologue, diction and modality shows the struggles of the man. The persona has too many goals and is regretting his choices in life, showing feelings of regret and exhaustion. Individualism is a major aspect to Romantic poetry and is expressed through the example as it shows a single person and his expression of individual feelings.

    • Word count: 587
  9. The road not taken

    In Frost's words, Thomas was "a person who, whichever road he went, would be sorry he didn't go the other." In the first stanza of the poem, the speaker, while walking on an autumn day in a forest where the leaves have changed to yellow, must choose between two paths that head in different directions. He regrets that he cannot follow both roads, but since that is not possible, he pauses for a long while to consider his choice. In the first stanza and the beginning of the second, one road seems preferable; however, by the beginning of the third stanza he has decided that the paths are roughly equivalent.

    • Word count: 1698
  10. Write a critical appreciation of Robert Frost's 'The Wood Pile', noting to what extent it seems typical of Frost's poetic interests and techniques.

    As the writer trudges on in the snow, and continue to see the almost identical landscape of trees, something caught his eye - "a small bird". On one level, it can be seen that the narrator is leveling criticism on the bird for being arrogant, paranoid as well as egoistic because it said "no word to tell me who he was" and "was careful/To put a tree between us". At the same time, it indirectly causes the narrator own egotism to shine through.

    • Word count: 1211
  11. Discuss some of the major thematic concerns in the poetry of Frost and explore the means by which he puts these ideas across.

    One way Frost illustrated this relationship is his portrayal of man and nature in his poems. The description of how Frost meets the butterfly and later, "the butterfly and [him] had lit upon,/Nevertheless, a message from the dawn" in "The tuft of flowers", is Frost showing how he and the butterfly are able to come to a realisation together, a mutual understanding, which eventually leads him to the epiphany at the end of the poem that "men work together...whether they work together or apart". Likewise, the bird in "The woodpile" which 'leads' Frost to the woodpile also seems to be the same sort of guiding light as the butterfly.

    • Word count: 976
  12. Discuss Frost's Attitudes Towards Nature and People in 'Out Out-', 'Two Tramps in Mud Time' and in 'Mending Wall'

    Frost's fierce passion and protection for nature becomes obvious here, even within the first two lines of the poem. As the trees, a dominant part of nature in the outside world, are chopped by the saw, Frost contracts his vivid, wicked description of the saw with positive detail about the wood, calling it 'sweet-scented'. He also uses non-fluency features here, such as the repetition of 'the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled', which makes his thoughts on the evil of the saw destructing nature more forceful and intense. Such a contrast is a definite characteristic to the work of Robert Frost, emphasizing his love for the natural world and his oppositely apathetic attitudes to mankind.

    • Word count: 1088
  13. MENDING WALL

    Wall

    • Word count: 5
  14. How does Robert Frost use rural imagery to suggest life's journey?

    The traveller cannot travel both roads and thus must make a decision which one to walk. He evaluates both roads and chooses the road less travelled realizing that he cannot back. The poem ends by the traveller stating that his choosing the road less travelled has made all the difference. In After Apple Picking the apples can be seen as a metaphor for the choices in life that people are ultimately responsible for the choices they pick. This is a very simple and straight forward situation and effective metaphor for displaying the idea of picking apples with the idea of grasping at opportunities we have or choices in life.

    • Word count: 1053
  15. Stopping by the Woods On A Snowy Evening, Commentary

    The poem commences with an easy note and gives rise to wisdom later along. The persona and the author are clearly separated from each other into two different entities. The speaker is depicted at another time and place from that of the writer. The persona is a way-farer who journeys through the woods which offer him temptations which he wants to indulge in but ultimately resists. There is a mysterious quality about the woods, and the persona wants to observe and explore it further but is held back by social constraints. The line 'I have promises to keep,' echo the obligations he has and he is forced to choose between nature and return to civilization.

    • Word count: 1198
  16. Commentary: 'Out Out' by Robert Frost

    Frost also personifies the saw by using words like snarled and rattled which makes the saw seem beast-like. The word buzz is onomatopoeic which again personifies the saw. The next line, 'And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood' describes the saw's purpose in the poem; it makes us more familiar with the saw. The next few lines set the scene of the poem, 'Five mountain ranges one behind the other, Under the sunset far into Vermont'. Some say that this is a reference to the bible, in Psalms*.

    • Word count: 1369
  17. Commentarty: Mending Wall by Robert Frost

    This shows that Frost's poem about a neighbour who insists on having a wall between his property and the next is simply a metaphor for the walls and barriers that we set in society. This commentary will explain some of the techniques that Frost uses and also the ideas which he wished to convey in his poem "Mending Wall". The title "Mending Wall" has aroused many questions for critics; what did Frost mean by calling his poem "Mending Wall"? Some say that it is a personification of the wall; others say that it is the name of the annual process of rebuilding the wall.

    • Word count: 2134
  18. Explore in detail the ways in which the poet brings out a sense of joy and pleasure in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" (by Robert Frost)

    The narrator also says that the owner "will not see me standing here". This evokes a tone of pity for the owner, as he is absent to enjoy the inner joy and clam the narrator is feeling. His horse in the story is a symbol of work and responsibility. It wants to reach their final destination as it felt strange that they were stopping "without a farmhouse near". This implies that the woods are only a resting place and the narrator is taking a break before moving back to his daily routines.

    • Word count: 699
  19. In "Frost at Midnight", why are Coleridge's thoughts not just mere musings? As a romantic poet, Coleridge explores man's relationship with nature and the effects of imagination

    Also the word ministry has connotations of religious healing. The whole line is metaphorical to that fact that Coleridge is trying to change this alien world for the better, in a secret way. The diction in the first line carries an elusive resonance and enforces the idea that Coleridge has concerns for the world at that time. Coleridge wishes his 'babe' to have a different childhood than him. For he was raised up 'in the great city, pent mid' cloisters dim.'

    • Word count: 536
  20. Coleridge's "Frost at midnight" is Coleridge's chance to reflect on his past while focusing on his current surroundings. In that, he realizes the beauty that he was deprived from living in the city

    The only disturbance in this "silent Ministry" is the "owlets cry." With this silence, he is able to reflect, which he does quite vividly. The poem starts out in a slow and somber mood as he talks about the peacefulness and beauty of nature. He uses a style of prose or "free verse", which has no particular rhyme or meter. This could be used to help convey his thoughts in a more story-like manner. The poem is broken down into four paragraphs of varying length and all, primarily, deal with nature.

    • Word count: 543
  21. Compare and contrast 2 or more anthologies. Consider the principles and preferences which seem to underlie the compilers selections, and the purposes which the book might serve for specific readers.

    Cope takes joy in stating that she actually included one of Enrights poems! (Inroduction, p ix-xii). She makes it clear that the only poems that people assume are happy poems are about love, but she has included a range of poems that she believes to be happy including those about places, beauty of the natural world, changing seasons, music, books, food and even the pleasure of taking a shower. She is highlighting that if you look, happy poems can be found.

    • Word count: 6877
  22. A Critical Appreciation of Frost's 'The Oven Bird'

    The endstop after 'ten', makes the fact that there are not as many flowers in summer as there are in spring, very definite and quite blunt. Even though winter is along way off, lots of nature is already past its best: The early petal-fall is past, When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers On sunny days a moment overcast The speaker constantly focuses on the shadows, although it is only a 'moment', so much destruction seems to happen in it.

    • Word count: 649
  23. "The Road not taken" by Robert Frost

    In this poem, the author is choosing a road to take. Road shall have various implications and here it represents a road of life. To decide which road to take is important as it may decide you a totally different life. The dilemma is that we could only choose one rather than try them both. Then while walking on the road we have struggled to pick out, we may still feel pitiful and are in memory of another one, the one we wouldn't have a chance to take.

    • Word count: 1093
  24. Closely analyse the poems 'Sacifice' by Taufiq Rafat and 'Out, Out' by Robert Frost. Explain what the poems tell us about the cultures from which they originate.

    This line in the poem stands out for me because it creates a strong image in my mind and tells me exactly how he is felling towards the sacrifice. In the next stanza we find out that there is a group of people that are involved in laying the foundations of a friend's house, as the sentence starts with 'We are laying the foundations of a friend's house'. By the words 'a brief prayer' and 'we stand in a tight circle' you can tell that the culture of the poem is a religious one and that they are also a close community by them all involved in a ritual also by them all laying the foundations of a friend's house.

    • Word count: 3172
  25. Commentary on Robert Frosts'The Gift Outright

    The 'belonging' discussed in line one immediately establishes that there is some type of relationship between the land and the people. Furthermore, the land is treated as something that is material and can be owned because "the land was ours"(Frost 1). The second half of this line, "we were the lands"(Frost 1) establishes that things happening in a certain definite order with us owning the land "before we were her people"(Frost 3). Although all of this can be gathered, the second half of the line leaves the reader wondering what it means, "we were the land's"(Frost 1).

    • Word count: 857

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Compare the poems "Hard Frost" and "winter the Huntsman". Decide which poem paints the best picture.

    "In the end both poems are different in imagery but the best image in my opinion is the one in hard frost because it's the Christmas that everyone tends to see. However winter the huntsman is more realistic but it is a image of winter that people don't want to see, because of the holiday of Christmas."

  • Closely analyse the poems 'Sacifice' by Taufiq Rafat and 'Out, Out' by Robert Frost. Explain what the poems tell us about the cultures from which they originate.

    "I liked the fact that Frost uses particular techniques such as, personification, repetition, onomatopoeia, and word structure, which produced a precise rhythm to the poem. Another bit of this poem I liked is that throughout the poem the buzz saw is personified and is given human and animal like qualities. 'And the saw snared and rattled, snarled and rattled as it ran light or had to bear a load'. This I found suggests that the saw is in fact some kind of creature, which may posses more power than the boy. To some up I think that Frost's ideas of life and death, the harshness of life's demands, and how he shows personal interest in the way in which individuals deal with life's issues such as death are clearly reflected in the poem 'Out, Out'. I think that this was a great poem to read."

  • How does Ratsushinskaya depict her suffering? Discuss with reference to two poems.

    "Overall, Irina Ratushinskaya depicts her suffering in the hard labour camp very sincerely. She uses both physical conditions and emotional heartache to display to the reader the true extent of her suffering. Ratushinskaya uses different subjects such as family and friendships to show her determination and the strong perseverance, which she holds. Although the two poems are different they both use descriptive verbs and show how Ratushinskaya tried to convince herself that the prison did not affect her. However in certain places in her poetry it can be seen that she is missing her family and that she is being haunted by old memories she doesn't want to get caught up in. She uses poetic devices such as caesura, enjambment and a semantic field of war to demonstrate her emotions, without actually telling the reader how she is feeling. Irina Ratushinskaya can be quite informative about her ordeal, giving the reader detailed events, in which she went through. In conclusion Ratushinskaya's suffering is depicted in both poems in an effective way, allowing the reader to relate to what she is going through. 5 1"

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