Every poet has a unique way inwhich they construct a particular poem. Some poets have a tendency to stay within the same style while other’s break out of the mold and write in a style of their own. For Frost,most of his work was composed in an English meter however, when composing “For Once, Then, Something” he strayed away from his usual tendencies of writing. “For Once, Then, Something” (1920) is the only poem Robert Frost ever composed in a classical meter: it is written in phalaecean hendecasyllabics” (Talbot, 2003).
Hendecasyllabic is generated from the times of Ancient Greece and the meaning behind the name of the meter is derived by the Greek word eleven. With each line containing 11 syllables, “the hendecasyllabic offers the opportunity tomaintainthe basic Sapphic rhythm for a long period, building up momentum” (Wikipedia, 2014). There are a number of speculations asto the reason why Frost chose to steer away from his traditional writing scheme but continued with the reflection of nature. One thought of why Frost did not use the classic Englishmeter for this particular poem was to the effects of him imitating the Latin meter of Catullus.
“Frost’s poem is, among other things, a response to hostile critics. Scholars of Catullus – and Catullus was Frost’s favorite Roman author – have pointed to a link between hendecasyllabics and the poetic mode of rebuttal toone’scritics” (Talbot, 2003). In my view of reading the poem, it could be read in iambic pentameter.
Each lineseems toend with an extra syllablewhichgives the impression of being unaccented however, it seem that iambic pentameter was not the intentions of how Frost wanted this poem to be read. “Writing to a friend in1920, the year of the poem’s publication, roguish Frost boasted that the poem was “calculated to tease the metrists,” (Talbot,2003).
The meaning Frost wanted toportraywasthat in which he was certainlycapable of writing a poem with an amplevisionand of classical meter. 1 In writing the poem, Frost intertwined traces of classical Greece within the theme of a modern story. The speaker reveals seeing his reflection “…godlike / looking out of a wreath of fern…” which presents as an allusion of the classicalGreek story of Ovid and his account of his own reflection (Talbot, 2003). The image of the fern could also be measured as a symbol of the Greek wreath.
These images are a representation of the classical aspect in which Frost intend the poem to shadow. In my opinion, one of the biggest reflections to the classical aspect of Ancient Greece was that of the actual well itself and the so called truth that lies within it. Judith Oster spoke in tune of this same reflection in her book Toward Robert Frost: The Reader and the Poet, of how the meaning of the poem may have been attributed to the avowal of “Democritus: Of truth we know nothing, for truth lies at the bottom of a well” (Oster, 1991).
There are certainly many various opinions in which gather around the classical theme of the poem and the reasoning behind why Frost wrote it outside of his traditional setting. In learning more and more about Frost from week to week I understand his work depicts a more deep and metaphysical meaning. Others criticized Frost for not having profound meaning within his work simply only reflecting the beauty of nature which is the thought of most behind the poems naturalistic classic rendering.
The individual kneeling at the well is seemingly troubled by something of great cause. There is a sense ofuncertaintyof whether or not the answer being sought will be known as truthful.
This individual is not only dealing with the troubles of uncertainly but also the subjugation of mockery from the town, community or merely a group of people. The speaker indicates the troubles seem to come from a very deep and dark place as indicated in line three as a image of the well mirrors “deeper down in the well than where the water” lies (Frost, 1995). When peering in the well at the dark deep water the onlything in which the speaker sees is a reflection point towards himself “Gives me back in a shining surface picture / me myself in the summer heaven godlike” (Frost,1995).
The semblance of a god-like face within 2 the pool of water creates the image of someone who could do no wrong, being more of a god than human. The speak is rationalizing the mockery of his image being questioned as he looks deeper into the well with his chin up against the edge realizing the opinion of truth perhaps can be superficial “beyond the picture” (Frost, 1995).
However, this thought is immediately rejected when the “water came to rebuke too clear water” as if the speaker simply shook his head bringing his thoughts back to the surface. Many times in our life the “water” so tospeak can get murky leaving us without a clear resolution to a problem we are troubled with. As in this case, the speaker was brought back from those murky waters by the droplet from a fern. We too have those times in our lives who so called bring us back to see the light or “whiteness” as replicated in the instance “blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness” (Frost, 1995).
We all at times struggle with finding truth within our lives just as the speaker does in “For Once, Then, Something”.
The poem is certainly well compose of classicalmeter still maintaining the jovially gander of Frost while tying into the beauty of nature. Frost is establishing the question of truth regardless of what interpretation the reader may convey, which is in that of his own persona. Essentially though we could all relate to a poem of this nature by taking time to reflect our own personal accord. References “For Once, Then, Something”.
Frost, Robert. Frost: Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays. New York: The Library of America, 1995. Page 208. Print. 3 Oster, Judith. Toward Robert Frost: The Reader and the Poet. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991. Page 82.
Print. Talbot, John. “Robert Frost’s Hendecasyllabics And Roman Rebuttals. ” International Journal Of The Classical Tradition 10. 1 (2003): 73-84. Literary Reference Center. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. Retrieved from: http://library. gcu. edu:2048/login? url=http://search. ebscohost. com. library. gcu. edu:2048/login. aspx? direct=true&db=lfh&AN=14854873&site=eds-live&scope=site Wikipedia contributors. “Hendecasyllable. ” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 4 Nov. 2014. Web. 12 Apr. 2015. Retrieved from: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Hendecasyllable.