Write a Critical Appreciation of 'Birches'.
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Literary Studies Coursework Write a Critical Appreciation of 'Birches'. Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, United States of America, on March 26th 1874. He was one of America's leading 20th-century poets and a four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. An essentially pastoral poet often associated with rural New England, Frost wrote poems whose philosophical dimensions transcend any region. Although his verse forms are traditional - he often said that 'he would as soon play tennis without a net as write free verse' - he was a pioneer in the interplay of rhythm and meter and in the poetic use of the vocabulary and inflections of everyday speech. His poetry is thus traditional and experimental, regional and universal. He died in Boston, on January 29th, 1963. 'Birches' is written in blank verse, presented in the form of a single stanza, emphasizing the narrative chronicle of boyhood memories. The poem illustrates the journey through life, using nature to symbolize his triumphs and disappointments. The opening line stating: 'When I see birches bend to left and right/Across the lines of straighter darker trees,' subtly introduces the theme of imagination coupled with opposing, darker realities. The plosive alliteration of birches bend, suggest the movement of these elegant trees as they sway and groan in the wind, bowed under the weight of their snow-laden crust.
However, with the introduction of a surprising simile, Frost has the ability to awaken our senses once again with a fresh, vibrant vision. He compares the birches to alluring maidens: '...trailing their leaves on the ground/Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair/Before them over their heads to dry in the sun'. The introduction of sexual connotation is again repeated in Frost's confessional: 'Summer or winter, he could play alone. /One by one he subdues his father's trees/By riding them down over and over again/Until he took the stiffness out of them, /And not one but hung limp, not one was left/For him to conquer'. This young man's fantasies are strengthened by the repetitions of 'One by one' and 'over and over', adding excitement and expression to Frost's idealized images, and the successive enjambements in the narrative serve to emphasize his youthful zeal. In the alliterative 'l' sound of: 'He learned all there was/To learn about not launching out too soon', coupled with the lengthening double vowel sound of ' too soon', further stresses Frost's urgent need for accurate timing in his quest. The many enjambements in this first section of 'Birches' add to the fast pace and excitement in the retelling of the scene. When Frost employs the pseudonym of 'Truth' for his reality, his dreams are again denied.
Fearing that he might not be able to return, Frost quickly realizes his folly and capitulates with the words: 'Earth's the right place for love; I don't know where it's likely to go better.' Frost realizes that everything has a season and, like the melting ice on his beloved birch trees, there is an order of things in nature, which is retold through the cycle of life. The final analogy is of Frost wistfully musing that life should be lived to its utmost, experiencing all that it has to offer. When the time was right, he wanted his death to be a similar adventure: "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. /That would be good both going and coming back" In conclusion, Frost's journey through life, although at variance with reality, is personified by his climbing the snow-laden branches of his beloved birch trees. From the standpoint of maturity, he wishes he could return to his younger days, where life could be all that he wanted, if only in his imagination. Ultimately, Frost prays that life will be filled with adventures until his dying day, when his final epitaph would be: "One could do worse than be a swinger of birches'. Word Count 1397 Jacqui Metcalf Literary Studies 22nd March 2004 4 Brockenhurst College
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