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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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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. “Deceptively simple poems about everyday rural life and activities” - look at two or three of the Frost poems you have studied and considered whether you think this statement about them is appropriate.

    This is echoed in the structure, as it too is unbroken. The form also connects with the fact that the two farmers in the poem are rebuilding a wall. The continuous verse is like a wall as well. The barrier featured in the poem is a stone wall, which would have had an uneven top, this is also reflected in the structure as it has an even edge on the right side. "Mending Wall" does not contain rhyme. This makes the poem seem basic, as it seems, that no thought has been taken over the rhyming pattern of the poem.

    • Word count: 1525
  5. Analyse The Woodpile and compare the language and themes to other Frosts poems.

    In the beginning of the poem The Tuft Of Flowers the narrator is feeling alone physically. However this poem questions whether or not people can ever be truly alone, and, as a contrast to most of Frost's poems like Home Burial, decides you can't. Many parallels can be drawn between Tuft Of Flowers and The Wood Pile, another being nature, in a way, leading the narrator to an object that consequently leads the reader to the meaning of the poem. In The Wood Pile a bird flies down close to the narrator and whilst being distracted by the bird the narrator comes to the foot of a neatly measured woodpile.

    • Word count: 1279
  6. Compare the poems "Hard Frost" and "winter the Huntsman". Decide which poem paints the best picture.

    Differences in the poem are continued with the use of personification. In "HF" frost is depicted as a soldier of the army of winter, evidence of this is numerous. One particular piece from the poem describes it best, "Frost called to water "Halt!", this personifies frost as someone who would command like a sergeant in the army. More aspects of frost being humanlike is in the following quote 'interns poor fish'. This means that he has the power to lock away fish like people in prison cells. In "WTH" the poem personifies winter as a huntsman, evidence of this is this quote "is it winter the huntsman galloping", I think that showing winter to be a huntsman is interesting idea.

    • Word count: 1115
  7. Post-1914 Poetry

    The weak level of concentration the boy has, is also reflected in the irregular punctuation, and the disorganised structure and lay-out of the poem. He then squashes an ant to death, and "throws back his head" and as the bright sunlight shines into his eyes, "water floods" them. The boy now gets very embarrassed, as he doesn't want anyone to believe that he is crying because he was left out. In order to avoid anybody seeing him cry, he quickly puts down his head, and "clears a...drainage ditch...between the bricks".

    • Word count: 1541
  8. Robert Frost - The Road Not Taken.

    We are presented with a situation in a wood where the poet must take one of two paths. It does not particularly matter what the decision was, indeed it could be a sequence of choices from entirely life changing ones to minor and relatively ineffectual ones. However, Frost's ultimate thoughts on these decisions are vital to the poem's meaning. Frost realises that it does not matter which path he took provided he took the one which he believed to be the best one for him at the time.

    • Word count: 1169
  9. Commentary on the Road Not Taken.

    The second stanza again refers to the choice that Frost makes by explaining why he chose one path and not the other "Then took the other...because it was grassy and wanted wear". It shows that outer-appearance forced him to take the path that he took. Immediately he realizes that his choice was perhaps not too wise because both the paths had worn out. In the third stanza of the poem, Frost is trying to console himself that he will travel the other path some other day "Oh, I kept the first for another day".

    • Word count: 1509
  10. 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
  11. Look at Sarah Orne Jewett's description of a New England town in the passage 'The Country of the Pointed Firs.' What impression do you get of Dunnet Landing?

    Although undertaking this technique of regionalist writing, the landscape Jewett writes about is merely a small garden at the back of a New England village house, whereas the majority of authors engage in writing about significantly larger and more expansive areas. Despite this, Jewett is just as able to employ her chosen area in the exploration of the attitudes and beliefs in those living there. The narrator's tone varies through the piece, initially perceiving the garden and its contents with little more than acknowledgement of its presence, describing it rather cynically as being 'retired and sheltered.'

    • Word count: 1077
  12. Choose a poem that deals with childhood death. By close reference to the text, show how the use of poetic techniques has helped you to see the death of a child in a different light.

    All of these techniques have helped me to see the death of a young child in a different light. The personification used in this poem is very unusual and engaging. One of the best examples of personification is: "And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled," This quotation gives the reader the first impression that the 'buzz saw' has animal qualities and that something bad is about to happen. It is also a use of onomatopoeia, which clearly describes the sudden, dramatic sounds that the 'saw' made just like an animal. The 'snarled' suggests a lion, and 'rattled' suggests a rattlesnake, both of which are able to attack and kill humans.

    • Word count: 1169
  13. 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
  14. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

    Throughout the poem, Frost describes a wood and 2 roads, which are the extended metaphors. The author is comparing choices that must be made in life to roads in a wood. What choice one makes affects his or her life. Each choice leads one on to different obstacles and outcomes, the same way a road does. As well, the wood is a metaphor for life. There are many different choices in life, the same way there are many different paths in a wood.

    • Word count: 1168
  15. Robert Frost said that a poem should

    After cleaning the 'pasture spring' he considers waiting 'to watch the water clear', this can be interpreted in different ways. Perhaps he wanted to make sure he had done the job properly, or it could be that he takes delight in watching the waters clear and wants to wait watch 'it clear' or perhaps it could be simply that he wants the moment to last, as he enjoys it so. In life I generally find that things I do not enjoy drag on and on, seemingly taking longer that they actually are, yet things that I enjoy seem to go faster.

    • Word count: 2215
  16. 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
  17. Robert Frost

    Born to Isabelle Moodie and William Frescott Frost Jr on March 26 1874. During his childhood he didn't attend school, however he was taught by his mother during the first ten years of his life. He began to attend school during the fifth grade at the same time that his mother was teaching his class. He enjoyed school and soon entered Lawrence High school, where his talent was soon discovered and he published his first poem in the high school bulletin in April of 1890. Robert Frost's talent helped him start a job as a reporter for his high school from which he married Elinor White who just like him was also the valedictorian at their graduation.

    • Word count: 2193
  18. Robert Frost Overview

    In the next six lines, Erica Smith notes, "we are inclined to view the ice storm negatively because Frost has used it to refute his hoped-for explanation in line three" (Smith 20). A couple of lines later Frost gives us an insight into how reality is: They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed So low for long, they never right themselves. The birches are dragged to the floor and they don't break.

    • Word count: 1188
  19. Robert Frost - The Road Not Taken, and Nothing Gold Can Say

    However, he could not do this because once he had chosen one path, he could not retrace his footsteps and tread the other path. The third line, "And be one traveller, long I stood", means that he took a long time and had thought a lot about which road to enter. By him being a traveller it means that he is just one more person who has to make this decision. He has to travel through a network of randomly generated decisions, and to do this he must travel through "a wood"!

    • Word count: 1928
  20. Using a close analysis of 3 or 4 poems in this collection, write an essay on how Frost uses ‘the sound of sense’ in his poetry to convey both the difficulties and the worth of ordinary life.

    The diction also has connotations of death and the desire to die,' day was all but done' and ' Call it a day, I wish they might have said'. The syntax in this is unusual because to make sense it would have to say, 'I wish they said to call it a day'. This gives the tone a much more colloquial feeling. This is supported by the Germanic diction, for example, 'supper', 'wood', 'boy'. The tone is low and mournful as if the narrator is looking back on the situation as if it happened some time ago, but also as if it is an everyday event, this is shown by the narrator's stoicism, 'So.

    • Word count: 1083
  21. 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
  22. “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost

    symbolizes the problems with Frost feels are wrong with society (Mending Wall 3). The narrator's neighbor symbolizes man as a whole because he does not want to step away from tradition. The neighbor wants boundaries clearly marked so that he can know exactly what he can and cannot do. This attitude truly reflects the attitude of modern society. When the neighbor says that "'Good fences make good neighbors'" (27), he is saying that he needs boundaries to make his life simpler and less confusing.

    • Word count: 1114
  23. 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
  24. With close reference to Out, Out - explore how Frost directs the readers sympathies

    This might create sympathy for the boy and his family, as he was in a seemingly calm and relatively safe environment, and so his death was unexpected However, the first line contradicts this safe feeling, ?the buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard?. ?Snarled and rattled? sound actively aggressive, which makes the boy seem little and some what helpless in comparison, which creates sympathy for him. The onomatopoeic sounds, and the repetition of ?ed? give it a mechanical sound.

    • Word count: 1330
  25. The Gift Outright, by Robert Frost is a poem that expresses the connection of humans with their land.

    The poem itself has a strange meaning, but if you dig deeper into the meaning you will understand it better. America is a strange place to begin with, and everyone believes they understand it, but do they really? The poem, likewise, is just a simple portrayal of the relationship between existence and possession with us and America. The narrator describes America?s history as a nation in this poem. During this time, America is still tied to England and cannot establish freedom, but by accepting the ?gift? of identity. In the end, the Americans learn that the land is truly theirs.

    • Word count: 689

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