Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California in March of 1874. He was a writer and naturalist, and is today one of the best-loved of the modern poets. His poetry is admired for its depictions of normal people, living simple lives in the rural countryside. He often touched on themes of isolation, loneliness, life, and death, usually depicted through metaphors utilizing nature.
Frost was named the poetry consultant to the Library of Congress from 1958-59, and he recited a poem at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. Before this death he was awarded over forty honorary degrees although he never graduated from a university. He also traveled to the Soviet Union with the Interior Secretary where he helped lobby for peace between the two countries.
‘The Wood-Pile’ is a lesser known, narrative poem that describes a speaker’s journey through the woods to a strangely placed, and abandoned, wood pile. The images in this piece jump from place to place, vaguely outlining an empty winter forest. There is a frozen swamp, a pile of wood, and a great deal of certainty about what exactly is going on.
The reader is as confused as the speaker is. Neither one knows why the wood pile has been left there or what circumstances led up to it being abandoned. A lover of Frost’s poetry will immediately recognize the walk through the woods as an important element in other texts as well. There is a theme of natural exploration, often stymied or confused by human emotions, throughout Frost’s poetry.
In this piece, the speaker describes the feelings of companionship he holds for an old, dependable tree outside his window. The image of the tree is extremely important. Just as the speaker has watched the tree, the tree has watched over the speaker. They have been through a lot together and been one another’s steadfast companions.
‘Desert Places’ is very typical of Frost as a writer. It discusses themes of isolation and loneliness within the context of a natural scene. In this case, the setting is a snowy landscape in which all animals are hidden, and no other travellers wander. The land is described as “empty spaces,” a fact which evokes fear in the speaker and makes him think of his own mental “desert places.”
This is one of Robert Frost’s best-known pieces. It discuses humankind’s desire to mark off territory. This includes solidifying the outline of one’s own land, such as around a house, or something larger like the border of a country. The speaker does not look kindly on this way of being. He sees it as simplistic and indicative of a more basic urges which humanity should’ve grown out of.
‘A Time to Talk’ speaks on the importance of friendship and how nothing should get in the way of greeting a friend who has come to visit. In the poem, a friend calls to the speaker “from the road.”
Robert Frost’s speaker tells the reader what they should do in this situation by informing them of what they shouldn’t. One should not “stand still and look around” then resort to shouting down the hill. This is not how one treats someone they care about. It does not matter how tired one is or what work is left to do, a good friend “plod[s]” down and has a “friendly visit.”
This is a poem that describes a speaker’s connection to his own emotions and eventual desire to draw closer to the strength of the earth. The speaker’s youth was a powerful influence on him. It was so sweet that it was almost too much for him to handle. Since he has grown older his desires have changed. Now, he is looking for pain in his life, rather than pleasure.This strange decision make sense by the end of the poem. He is seeking to feel something real, to turn “earthward” and know the full range of his emotions.
This is one of Frost’s best-known, and most well-loved, poems. It was inspired, or so Frost claimed, by real events. He was in the woods, and despairing over his financial state. He did not have the money to provide for his family, but chose to continue on rather than give up and walk into the forest. This was a difficult and courageous choice as woods provided an easy escape from the hardships of his life.
The Freedom of the Moon
This lesser known Robert Frost piece is filled with meaning. On the outside the poet appears to be discussing the freedom of the moon. It can be “tilted n the air” or “shining anywhere” the speaker pleases. It can be “brought…over glossy water” and “dropped…in.” These beautiful images come together for form a longer extended metaphor about the freedom, or perhaps lack-thereof, which humanity has everyday.
This piece is one of the best representatives of Robert Frost’s use blank verse. The events in this piece are generally playful and upbeat. They discuss the joy that can come from playing in the woods, particularly on the branches of a birch tree. The poem explores the limits of human reach. The tree provides a vehicle to reach beyond one’s typical purview.
This poem is by far Robert Frost’s most popular. The scene described in the text is once again a pastoral one. The trees changing colours and there are leaves on the ground. There are two paths which are set out before the speaker, and it is up to him to choose which one to travel down. One of the two seems to be less worn than the other, but after closer inspection, the reader should realize they are both the same. The decision he makes in this moment is spoken of as if it was life changing. At the time he thought he might go back and try the tooth path, but he realizes that this is never going to happened. He is stuck with the path he chose.