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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.

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    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.

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    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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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


    • Word count: 5
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. The poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" was written by Robert Frost

    Through the poem, the literary devices shown are imagery, diction, and symbolism, which all help the reader understand the core and more depth meaning easier. Imagery is used in many ways throughout the poem. Visual imagery, aural imagery, thermal imagery, and kinesthetic imagery are all seen in the poem. Visual imagery plays a major role throughout the poem and is seen the most. It helps the reader visualize the speakers feelings and surroundings. It is seen in the poem when the speaker is talking about being in the woods by a house amongst people except who can not see him and do not know he is there.

    • Word count: 710
  12. Death of a Naturalist, The Road not taken and Not My best side

    As well, the word "yellow" is symbolism for the uncertainty Frost has in making his choice. In the line "And sorry I could not travel both", the word 'both' immediately indicates that Frost wanted to take both the paths, but being 'one traveller', he had to make a choice. The choice, it is clearly shown, was not an easy one "...long I stood and looked down as far as I could..." In the last stanza the narrator seems content with his choice yet he tells of it with a sigh: not so much a regretful sigh but a speculative one, 'I shall be telling this with a sigh.'

    • Word count: 810
  13. 'The road not taken' and 'Not my best side'

    He is resolving himself to the fact that even when ages and ages pass, he will still wonder what if he had taken the other road. There are many equally valid meanings to this poem and Frost may have intended this. He may have been trying to achieve a universal understanding. In other words, there is no judgement, no specificity, no moral. There is simply a narrator who makes a decision in his life that makes the man who he is now.

    • Word count: 687
  14. Why We Study Literature

    For example, Robert Frost uses imagery in his poem "The Road Not Taken." In his poem, he compares two roads. To understand the poem and its meaning, one must read it over and over again to see that Frost is actually describing two choices in life. As one reads more literature, he or she begins to interpret works in many ways and think beyond what is actually written. As one's experience with literature beings to deepen, he or she recognizes the successes and failures of human beings. Secondly, writers use success and failure stories to make one think about his or her actions in life.

    • Word count: 601
  15. Choices are never easy; men face multitudes of them in their lifetime. Some decisions to these choices are clear while others are sometimes more difficult to make.

    The "Road Less Traveled" pathway describes a winding road that never ends. Frost however, describes his pathway as two separate roads that represent a fork. Nonetheless, the roads in Frost's poem and Strait's lyrics both resemble the long and short pathways of life that are full of choices and lessons. Lessons, choices, and change are the basic concepts to these writings. Both the poem and lyrics depict a man's life; they are metaphorically related to a physical journey filled with many twists and turns.

    • Word count: 834
  16. The presentation of nature in Robert Frost's poetry

    In "The Wood-Pile", the speaker sees a bird, which eventually leads him to the wood-pile. Frost then uses his sense of ambiguity, which he does to most of his poems. In "The Wood-Pile", the speaker is in effect taking nature (the bird) as personally communicating with him, as if nature were concerned with what decision he makes, go back or keep going on? Perhaps then Frost wanted the reader to convey the decaying wood-pile as the depth of nature's concern. The poem sees a man walking through a frozen swamp. He is stuck in a decision of whether to go ahead or not, nature is forcing him to make such a decision, but he decides to continue on and ends up getting lost.

    • Word count: 969
  17. The Poetry of Robert Frost

    The speaker describes a walk in the woods when he comes across a fork in the path. He can not travel down both and feels that he will miss out if he chooses the wrong one. He decides in the end to take the path which is "less travelled" (ll. 19). The poem ends with the reader never finding how the journey turned out. The deeper meaning of this poem is whether or not it is better to conform to the social order or rebel against it by taking "The Road Not Taken". The fork in the path is seen by some critics as a personal one for Frost.

    • Word count: 861
  18. The Wood-Pile By Robert Frost.

    appears to be able to take on several different meaning, like a poetic chameleon. This poem, as a first basis, appears to have very little plot or substance - no underlying secrets, etc. A man goes out for a walk, decides to turn around, then decides to go further and see. The man sees a bird and ponders what the bird might possibly be thinking, until the bird finally settles behind a pile of wood. The wood is described in such a manner to make the reader realize that is has been around for quite a while.

    • Word count: 545
  19. Commentary on Design by Robert Frost.

    This shows that the spider is not at fault for killing the moth since he is just following "Design". Frost also describes the flower as fat and white, just like a baby, both chubby and pale, gain, giving the reader a sense of innocence. Both the heal-all and moth are white, and in this case, the white color relays the idea of peace, meaning there was no conflict involved in the spiders taking the life of the moth. The dead moth is described as a piece of rigid satin cloth. Rigid means that obviously, the moth is dead.

    • Word count: 534
  20. Critical Evaluation of a poem which I have read recently is "Out, Out" by Robert Frost.

    This made me study the poem in more detail; it was the title of this poem which made me keep the poem vividly in my head. The title of this poem was effective because the poet was comparing our life to the life of candle flame and how it can be put out. He is trying to stress to us how short life is. Robert Frost appeals to my sense of smell, sight and hearing by the writing: "Sweet scented stuff" The techniques he used were alliteration and onomatopoeia.

    • Word count: 851
  21. The Road Not Taken and The Path of Life.

    The decision that is illustrated in the poem occurred at a much earlier point in the narrator's life. Everyone has made decisions, and since it is the purpose of this poem to discuss and address those decisions, it would be easy to look beyond the narrator and see oneself. The word choice used in the poem very effectively portrays the speaker. The language used is very simple, almost as if the narrator is not speaking but thinking. In this regard, the language of thoughts may be considered simple. The straightforward, almost quiet and seducing tone acts to draw the reader into the poem allowing the reader to become the narrator.

    • Word count: 803
  22. Seminar: Felicity and Mr Frost Prose Version

    Felicity's soggy yet bright blonde hair clung to her pink cheeks as she mumbled to herself about ponies and wellington boots. At last Susie saw the entrance to the school and made her way up the steps, you see Susie taught English at St. James Primary School, and today her daughter was coming to school with her. Frantic early morning telephone calls to friends whom owed favours were fruitless, "typical of the nursery to be closed on the day we have that important seminar", muttered Susie while wrestling with the staff room door.

    • Word count: 772
  23. First Ice First Frost These two English Translations of the Russian poem by Andrei Voznesenky are about a girl being rejected for the first time.

    The writer of this poem probably used 'Ice' to show what the girl was feeling inside. Whereas 'Frost' in the second poem is softer and doesn't hang around for a long time, meaning it may not take as long for this person to get over there hurt and rejection from there lover. In the first poem the phrase 'A girl freezes' shows how the girl has become shocked, frozen to the spot. In poem two ' A girl freezing' tells us that she isn't frozen to the spot she is just freezing. This shows how the girl in the first poem has reacted a lot worse to the news of her rejection, she has been hurt more than the girl in the second poem.

    • Word count: 978
  24. Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall”.

    The speaker tries to convince his neighbor to look beyond the old-fashioned and irrational traditions handed down by his ancestors. But, his neighbor remains unaffected and simply repeats the cliche. The poem is written in blank verse. Frost maintains five stressed syllables per line, but he manages to carry the natural speech-like quality of the poem. There are no stanza breaks or rhyming patterns, but many of the end-words share an assonance (e.g., wall, hill, balls, wall, and well). The language is simple and conversational; no fancy words are used, the words are short and of two syllables (only one word, "another", is of three syllables), and perhaps this is why the words are so in rapport with one another.

    • Word count: 700
  25. Poetic methods used in 'After Apple Picking' -Robet Frost

    make clear decisions ?there may be two or three? and his attention seems to be somewhere else, because it gives the impression that he?s quick to carry on with the poem, when changing the subject frequently. ?There?s a barrel that I didn?t fill? symbolises unfinished work. When Frost writes ?Apples I didn?t pick upon some bough? implies that someone else has been to this place and picked apples but left them there and ?But I? am done with apple picking now? may state that the narrator is feeling tiresome, feeling like giving up and this adds to the idea that its quite a dreamy poem.

    • Word count: 778

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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