The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost Essay
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Robert Frost once said ‘I’m not a nature poet. There is always more to my poetry’. When it comes to the poetry of Robert Frost appearances are most certainly deceptive. A thoughtful reader will quickly realize that his poems possess a literal and metaphorical meaning. When probing the beneath the surface a well-meaning is to be found. In terms of themes, he explores decision making, isolation, loneliness, fellowship, death, and depression. When it comes to imagery Frost possesses great powers of observation.
His images serve as a pleasing aesthetic add on to his poems. Stylistically. Frost’s poems can be read as allegories for his life. His use of aphorism, symbolism, and personification to name a few means there is much wisdom to be gained from reading a Frost poem. Despite the death of his poems, his language is extremely simple. He developed the ‘sound of sense’ theory where he believed the language of poetry should reflect the natural cadences of everyday speech. I certainly concur that the poetry of Frost is simple however deceptively so.
On the surface Frosts, poetry is simple to understand even to the readers who are oblivious to the deeper meanings in his poetry. In one of his most famous poems ‘The Road Not Taken’ the poem appears to be a poem about nature which uses descriptions of the natural appearance of the roads ‘And looked down one as far as I could/To where it bent in the undergrowth’. Whereas we peel back the layers we can see the deeper meaning of his poetry. Its archetypal dilemma, one that we instantly recognize because each of us encounters it innumerable times, both literally and figuratively. Paths in the woods and forks in roads are ancient and deep-seated metaphors for the lifeline, its crises, and decisions. Identical forks, in particular, symbolize for us the nexus of free will and fate, We are free to choose, but we do not really know beforehand what we are choosing between. Our route is, thus, determined by an accretion of choice and chance, and it is impossible to separate the two. In another poem, Frost wrote nature provides a beautiful but passive background to the horrific event in ‘Out-Out’. The poem outlines the fragility and brevity of life, as some may think. This poem is open to interpretation. Some think it is heavily emphasized on the brutal accident of the boy and others say that it is emphasized on the last two lines ‘And they since they were not the one dead, turned to their affairs’. Seamus Heaney once said that this poem represents the ‘Grim accuracy’ of the reality of life.
In “The Tuft of Flowers”, the simple ordinary story of a man looking for his neighbor to help him “turn the grass” is only a cover to the deeper meaning of fellowship, togetherness, and loneliness. Frost’s poems, including “The Tuft of Flowers”, need to be interpreted beyond the surface level of the subject matter in order to fully understand and appreciate them. Everything in the poem is literal but also metaphorically represents something else in life. The “bewildered butterfly” is confused, flying “round and round”, searching for the flower that was “yesterday’s delight”. This reflects memory and the search for happiness. The butterfly gets the poet to think about the situation, “I thought of questions that have no reply.” Instead of returning to the ordinary, daily tasks needing to be done, the butterfly captures his attention and draws him to, “The Tuft of Flowers”. The butterfly unites the speaker with the mower who has been and gone, “and I must be as he had been – alone”. If the butterfly had not appeared the speaker may not have noticed the “tuft of flowers” that had been left earlier by the mower which symbolises the mowers kindness and love for the beauty of nature. The butterfly’s search for the resting flower mirrors the poet’s search for companionship. The main theme of the poem is fellowship and, in my opinion, this is reflected in the underlying message which is that you are never really alone, even though at times it may seem like you are. Someone has been in your situation before, there are absent presences, such as the mower in the poem. The butterfly acts as a unifying force, bringing the speaker to the flower which acts as a platform for a bond to be made between the neighbours. “Acquainted With the Night” is another one of Robert Frost’s poems which has different dimensions to it. The darkness is not only the actual darkness but the inner darkness and loneliness the speaker feels. It is one of the few Frost poems, the only one I have studied, that has an urban setting. It is ironic as urban cities are generally associated with community and togetherness not loneliness and isolation like the speaker in the poem feels. The speaker is a solitary, uncommunicative figure walking through the deserted city streets at night. No connection is made between the speaker and any other person, they are just referred to as “the sound of feet” and “an interrupted cry”. This is a deeply personal poem as “I” is repeated seven times. Throughout his life, Frost suffered from depression, loneliness, and isolation, he knows how they feel and they can relate to this poem. It is a gloomy poem that explores isolation and loneliness in the darkness of the night which is symbolic of the darkness in the speakers