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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

    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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. "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
  11. Robert Frost: A Great American Poet"Rightly or wrongly, Robert Frost has achieved a reputation as a poet of nature..." (Gerber 155). Yes, Frost does use imagery of nature

    A few years later he returned to America where his second book, North of Boston, was published (Michalowski). Although he spent three years of his life in England, "...little of his verse reflects any specific English imagery" (Sweeny and Lindroth 11). Massachusetts and other New England areas were the setting for the majority of Frost's poetry. The nature in the New England area played a big role in his life and influenced his poetry a lot (Sweeny and Lindroth 7). "Nine generations of New Englanders had produced Robert Frost, and he in turn produced in his poetry a distillation of all that is New England" (Sweeny and Lindroth 15).

    • Word count: 1982
  12. Birches" moves the reader to interpret the deeper meaning within the poem. Frost uses the metaphor of the ice storm to illustrate its connection with life. T

    The author portrays the ice storms as dominant over the submissive branches. Frost uses this graphic detail to imply that the playfulness of swinging on branches doesn't permanently command their submission. He writes about the bent birches among the other birches. The author uses vivid detail of color as well as imagery of the sunny winter morning, "As the breeze rises and turn many colored as the stir cracks and crazes their enamel". Frost gives the reader a clear pastoral view of the unfortunate bending birch. The cold imagery of the ice crusted over the birch helps define the dominating shell that the birch is surrendered unto.

    • Word count: 1517
  13. Robert Frost's "Fire and Ice"

    Opposing most critics with their view of this idea, I believe Robert Frost's "Fire and Ice" is about love. Fire being the love itself along with passion, ice is the lack of love, rather than a view on the end of the world. Katherine Kearns states that although you have to make a decision between the language, it still seems as if Frost is trying to allude to the end of the world (Cambridge University). Frost often writes in a very simply form, which is why critics are constantly led to believe Frost had no double meaning out of the poem.

    • Word count: 1013
  14. Poetry Coursework

    As he cannot travel both he has to decide which road would be better for him. And both that morning equally lay, In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads to way, I doubted I should ever come back The above stanza shows the reader the differences in the two roads and the person's knowledge that he would not return to go the other road. The traveller chooses the road less travelled by which according to him makes "all the difference" Figuratively, "The Road Not Taken" can be applied in a person's life.

    • Word count: 1528
  15. Write a Critical Appreciation of 'Birches'.

    The fantasy thought of: 'I like to think that some boy's been swinging them/But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay', develops the dichotomy of imagination being at variance with reality, hinting of Frost's wish to return to his childhood days. The first twenty lines of the verse are set in late winter, just before the herald of Spring, a season that most suggests imaginative stirrings, when the natural world begins to rouse itself from winter's lethargy. Frost creates wonderland images of woodland in winter as the birches are: 'Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning/After a rain'.

    • Word count: 1486
  16. Robert Frost's 'Acquainted with the Night' - review

    the speaker hears and the 'luminary clock' (12) he sees. The speaker speaks from the first person perceptive, and just by using a plain and recollecting tone the speaker gives the impression of being an account of one's walk in a solitary city night, giving an honest window for the reader to the speaker's heart, which is full of desolation and depression. Through the poem's form and rhyme, the sight of a lonely man walking down sad streets in the night is portrayed, and the sense of heavy isolation and alienation is expressed.

    • Word count: 1481
  17. An Analysis of a Poem:

    This is because, in fairy tales, the settings could be 'anywhere' and 'nowhere' in particular. Fairy tales tend to avoid describing their settings in great detail so that readers from any country and culture can identify with them, and can recognize and respond to the 'universe' significance of the situations in the tales. Verb Tenses Another crucial aspect of the diction in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is the fact that the entire poem is spoken in the present tense. For example, line 1: 'Whose woods these are I think I know'. This choice of tense has two important and powerful effects on the impact and meaning of the poem: * Continuous use of the present tense creates a strong sense of vividness and immediacy.

    • Word count: 1030
  18. The Relationship Between Man and Nature in the poems of Robert Frost and R.S. Thomas

    You and I both know that that scythe, that any scythe, is an inanimate object, it can't talk. His imagination runs away with him. The language used in this poem is rather more formal than you would hear in normal language. Could you imagine saying, 'what was it he/she/it/they whispered? I know not myself.'? You would think, if anyone said that now, that they were mad. You don't hear people saying things like that, except in Shakespeare. Which is probably where Mr. Frost got a lot of his ideas from, as it sounds like the kind of thing that Shakespeare would say.

    • Word count: 1468
  19. Poets often use nature imagery to comment on the relationship between humans and the natural environment surrounding them.

    The relationship between the speaker and the natural environment is essential in recognizing the levels of dejection that exist in the three poems on a superficial level. In "Dejection: An Ode", the speaker, who can be identified with Coleridge himself, exhibits sorrow in his inability to find inspiration in the natural beauty that surrounds him. For this poet, finding solace in the natural world on a superficial level is insufficient; one must have an emotional connection to the beauty of nature.

    • Word count: 1847
  20. What lessons in life does Robert Frost teach us and how does he do this?

    The bird is introduced, Frost designed the bird represent a change in the poem, as we jump from the western world to the unknown, unexplored areas of the earth. The bird symbolises the distrust between two different worlds, containing different people and cultures. "He was careful/ To put a tree between us...". Frost personifies this bird in 2 ways, giving him the power to think; demonstrated by "He thought that I was after him for a feather" and has designed him to act as a lure highlighted by "One flight off sideways would have undeceived him".

    • Word count: 1363
  21. How to understand the reality and truth around us through our ways of knowing.

    Under emotional distress one can see things that are not there; such as a thirsty man in the Sahara can see a mirage portraying an oasis. Yet senses still help us to function correctly and be aware to a certain extent of our environment. The question is do we all experience our senses in the same way? There is no way for us to know; it is impossible to know the exact truth regarding the objectivity of the appearance of anything.

    • Word count: 1849
  22. On 'Mending Wall' by Robert Frost.

    He reasons that man-made gaps are forceful, destructive and merely for a personal purpose: 'To please the yelping dogs'. On the contrary, with the pausing effect of a Caesura as well as end stops and the use of words with long vowel sounds in a line followed closely by short vowel sounds in another: 'To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean, [short vowel sounds; No one has seen them made or heard them made, long vowel sounds] But at spring mending-time we find them there,' the narrator expresses his wonder and admiration to a naturally-cracked wall.

    • Word count: 1462
  23. How does Robert Frost communicate his sub-textual meaning in "The Road Not Taken"?

    The much anthologized work has become the subject of numerous arguments. It raises the evident question of whether it is better to choose the path in which many travel, or to choose the road less travelled and explore it yourself. In "The Road Not Taken" the narrators tone and setting help illustrate the struggle a person goes through in their life to pick the right road to travel. It is possible to read this poem as a statement of self-pity on the poet's part. He feels perhaps, that he has been cheated and misunderstood because he took an unpopular path.

    • Word count: 1145
  24. "Advertisement" by Wislawa Szymborska - Commentary.

    By giving the drug human qualities, it helps the reader in understanding the power and influence of drugs. "I can minimize injustice, lighten up God's injustice." This excerpt illustrates the effectiveness of personifying the drug by going as far as saying the drugs are so powerful that they can replace a supreme being, such as God. When the author writes, "I mend broken cups with care," she is using "a broken cup" as a synecdoche for broken, anguished people in general.

    • Word count: 1014
  25. Robert Frost is an American poet - What do you find specifically American in his poems and what do you find is universal?

    "After Apple-Picking" also gives a sense of immense space with its' title and subject matter. The title tells the reader of the event that is occurring in Frost's orchard. Having an orchard on ones property implies a huge amount of land is owned. "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood", "And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth" These phrases from "The Road Not Taken" also indicate a vast space. The second of the two phrases especially does this as the path travels so far in to the enormous wood that the speaker can not see its' end, he can only see where it bends further on.

    • Word count: 1078

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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