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Robert Frost Overview

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Introduction

Robert Frost is considered one of the "most popular American poets of his time." He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry four times. Congress also voted him a gold medal, in "recognition of his poetry, which has enriched the culture of the United States and the philosophy of the world" (Costello 543). The poem "Birches" was first published in 1915 (Thomason 18). In Robert Frost's "Birches," the theme of reality vs. imagination is discovered through images of bent birches, symbolism of a boy swinging the trees, and the tone of words used. The conflict of reality vs. imagination is explored through images of bent birches. Reality is depicted as birches bending and cracking after a freezing rain from the ice that was left behind. Frost let's the reader know that this is reality in lines 3-4: "I like to think some boy's been swinging them. But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay." He tells the reader the real reason of what bent the birches in line 5 when he states "Ice-storms do that." ...read more.

Middle

Frost states a couple of lines later that the boy knows how far to bend the tree before he can break it. This enhances the idea that the boy plays by himself because he's "too far away from town" (line 25). In lines thirty-one and thirty-two the boy is victorious of putting the trees down, "...not one was left / For him to conquer." Here Frost shows that imagination just had victory over reality. His interpretation replaced the reality of the ice storm being the cause (Thomason 15,16). This brings us back to the idea that the boy portrays imagination because when we imagine it is to escape reality. For example, if we live in a regular house we might state one-day, "Imagine I wake up one morning and I own a mansion." By stating this, we would be escaping reality for a moment, picturing how we might feel if it were to really come true. With this in mind, Frost is suggesting that if we learn how to master our skill in imagining then it will increase the ability we have to handle any bad situation that might arise in our lives. ...read more.

Conclusion

This line is important because Frost is rejecting the limits of the outside world and choosing his own reason of why the birches are bent (Thomason 15). The theme of reality vs. imagination is explored through images of bent birches, symbolism of a boy swinging the trees, and the tone of words used. Reality is portrayed as bent birches, and imagination is portrayed as the boy swinging the trees. The tone Frost uses proves that he prefers imagination rather than reality. In the last line of the poem, "One could be worse than be a swinger of birches," the speaker sounds calm and relaxed. He sounds ready to face reality again after taking a trip into the forest. Frost depicted that when reality "is too much like a pathless wood," (line 44) that's when he likes to "get away from earth awhile" (line 48). Frost also suggests that it "would be good both going and coming back" (line 58). He likes the idea of imagining occasionally. As human beings, we tend to imagine many things during our lives but we are always on the run that we don't realize all the times that we are actually taking a mental vacation away from reality. ...read more.

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