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Robert Frost as a Poet

Robert Frost as a Poet


Robert Frost is one of America’s most popular poets of modern times. His poetic career began towards the end of the nineteenth century. His first poem My butter Fly’ was published in 1894. His first book of verses came out in 1913. It is aptly entitled’ ‘A Boy’s Will’. It contained some of the well-known lyrics-‘A Line the Storm Sang’: ‘Mowing’: ‘October’ and ‘Tuft of Flowers’, and ‘Reluctance’. ‘The West Running Brook’ published in 1928 was the next volume of poems. It contains poems like ‘Devotion’, ‘acceptance’, ‘The Spring Pools’ and ‘Acquainted with Night’. The next volume of poems ‘A Further Range’ has such pieces as ‘Lost is Heaven’, ‘Desert Places’ and ‘Two Tramps in Mud Time’. His other volume of poems include ‘Winter Words’; ‘Masque of Reason’ and ‘Masque of Mercy’ published respectively in 1942 and 1945. ‘Steeple Bush’ and ‘In the Clearing’ came out in 1947 and 1962.

A Nature Poet

Though Robert Frost is a modern poet and people of his poems are all modern human beings. His affinities are with the Romantics. Like them his human beings are in touch with nature. He writes more about fields and forests, hills and valleys, flowers and fruits, streams and brooks, than about roads and streets, cities and restaurants, machines and trains and aero planes. Frost’s Muse is essentially rural. As he declared : his twin delights would be to write poetry and to live with Elinor. It could be said that his twin occupations were farming and writing poetry. He is a farmer poet. He is in close touch with nature and knows her moods and loves her as farmer does. In this respect he resembles Thomas Hardy, William Barnes and the ploughman poet of Scotland, Robert Burns. He is interested in harvesting and mowing. Two of his poems ‘Unharvested’ and ‘Mowing bear witness to his pattern of life as a farmer. Nature looms large in his poetry. His outlook is pastoral and agrarian. His themes are not those which the moderns like Auden and Eliot delight in. He does not write about the Age of Anxiety’ and ‘The Waste Land’ He is a not ‘a pylon poet’ like Auden, Mac Niece and Stephen Spender.

A Modernist Poet

Though he lives in the modern world which is various war-like and complex, he is not too deeply perturbed by the crisis in culture. He is not disillusioned with life and the world. He loves the world and even when he quarrels with it but it not like an enemy. To put it in his own words-

“I had lover’s quarrel with the world.” He many submit to reason he may make compromises-he considers it sinful but is not angry with the world because it forces him to sacrifice his nobler impulses-

Oh when to the heart of man

Was it ever less than a treason

To go with the drift of things

And bow and accept the end

Of a love or season.

But he submits and surrenders with good grace. He is not bitter at the compromises that are forced on him. Yet he regrets that he could not live upto his nobler impulses.

His technique

Through not avowed modernist experimenting with new techniques or expanding the subject matter of poetry from country to the city, he has the modern sensibility. Most of his poems deal with persons suffering from loneliness and frustration, loss and disease of modern life. He meditates on the condition of man in our times. He says “Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat” He is a thinker. Frost says-

I turned to speak to God

About the world’s despair

But to make bad pattern worse

I found God wasn’t there.

Simplicity of diction

Robert Frost is economical in the use of words. In his case brevity is truly the soul of wit. In ‘Stopping by Woods in a Snowy Evening’ most of the words are monosyllabic. Forest uses speech rhythms and they are at times conversations.

Frost’s style is marked by simplicity and lucidity. But this simplicity is only the surface. He is fond of using symbols. It is seen in ‘Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening’ where the woods are symbol mystery of death and the wish which sometimes overtakes us to put an end to our life, to rest to sleep and to die. Similarly ‘Reluctance shows the man discovering in the autumn of one’s life that he had not gone where he wished to go and done what his heart prompted him to do. He merely drifted on the stream of life and submitted to reason and sacrificed his noble impulses.


Though Robert Frost seems simple yet he is a careful craftsman. His apparent simplicity only hides his artistry. He uses images and symbols with telling effect. It is this which makes him the most representative poet of his country. It is this that made Robert Grows call him the Voice of America.

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