Throughout this poem, Frost uses numerous examples of metaphors comparing love and elements of the natural world. This includes storm clouds, wind, rivers, flowers, and more. Each of these elements helps readers better understand love from a different perspective in ‘A Line-storm Song.’
Explore A Line-storm Song
‘A Line-storm Song’ by Robert Frost is a thoughtful poem about the difficulties inherent to love and relationships.
In the first lines of the poem, the poet uses his characteristic imagery to depict a storm and its effects. He then asks the listener, someone he loves, to embrace the storm and be his “love in the rain.” The same pattern emerges throughout the next stanzas as the speaker describes elements of nature and then addresses his love. No matter what’s going on in the world, there is a sense of perseverance in the lines. The speaker wants to continue seeking and bettering his love no matter the difficulties. Love is at once beautiful and destructive, the speaker suggests.
You can read the full poem here.
The line-storm clouds fly tattered and swift,
The road is forlorn all day,
Where a myriad snowy quartz stones lift,
Come over the hills and far with me,
And be my love in the rain.
In the first stanza of ‘A Line-storm Song,’ the speaker begins by describing a beautiful natural scene. It’s marked by storm clouds, wet flowers, and vanishing hoof-prints (likely due to the rain) along the side of the road. He directs these words towards one person, someone he wants to be his “love in the rain.”
The rainstorm, clouds, and all the inconveniences it creates are used as symbols for the difficulties of love. These obstacles are going to occur whether one wants them to or not. The speaker is trying to embrace them by asking the listener to be with him in the rain.
The birds have less to say for themselves
In the wood-world’s torn despair
Than now these numberless years the elves,
Come, be my love in the wet woods; come,
Where the boughs rain when it blows.
In the second stanza, the speaker brings in more natural images. These are characteristic of Frost’s verse, so much so that it would be surprising to encounter a Frost poem without this kind of imagery. The tone transitions from being fairly gloomy in the next lines into more uplifting when he again addresses his love at the end of this stanza. He continues to acknowledge the difficulties in the natural world and relate them to love.
There is the gale to urge behind
And bruit our singing down,
And the shallow waters aflutter with wind
For wilding brooch shall wet your breast
The rain-fresh goldenrod.
The third stanza is slightly different than those which came before it. These lines contain a question and do not ask the listener to be the speaker’s “love” in the rain. The speaker knows that no matter what they do, they are going to encounter difficulties in their relationship. There will be gales, downed trees, wind, and more. All of these elements enrich their love. The gale, for example, urges their singing and “bruits” it or spread it around.
Oh, never this whelming east wind swells
But it seems like the sea’s return
To the ancient lands where it left the shells
Oh, come forth into the storm and rout
And be my love in the rain.
The speaker repeats many of the same sentiments in this stanza that he did in the previous. He asks his love to be with him “in the rain” while also personifying natural forces like the sea. He crafts a brief narrative, describing the exit and return of the sea in such a way that he elevates his love and the trials of similar situations.
Structure and Form
‘A Line-storm Song’ by Robert Frost is a four-stanza poem that is divided into sets of eight lines, known as octaves. These octaves follow a very simple rhyme scheme of ABABCDCD, changing end sounds from stanza to stanzas. Throughout each stanza, the even-numbered lines are all shorter than the odd-numbered lines. The latter contains around ten syllables per line and the former around six to eight. There is no single pattern that unites the meter, but the poem certainly contains a loose structure.
Throughout ‘A Line-storm song,’ Frost makes use of several literary devices. These include but are not limited to:
- Alliteration: the repetition of the same consonant sound at the beginning of multiple words. For example: “now” and “numberless” in line three of the second stanza and “whelming” and “wind” in line one of the fourth stanza.
- Personification: occurs when the poet imbues non-human things with human characteristics. For example, in the first stanza when he describes the road as “forlorn” and later in the poem when he says: “The birds have less to say for themselves / In the wood-world’s torn despair.”
- Imagery: can be seen when the poet uses particularly interesting and effect descriptions. For example: “All song of the woods is crushed like some / Wild, easily shattered rose.”
- Symbolism: occurs when an author uses one thing to stand in for another. In the first lines of the poem, Frost uses the storm clouds to represent the troubles one is sure to experience while loving someone else.
The tone is passionate and filled with emotion. Sometimes, the speaker seems to mourn the state of the world, but those moments are quickly transformed into respect for nature and an appreciation for love.
Throughout this poem, Frost engages with themes of love and nature. The speaker uses the latter to describe the nature of love and all its difficulties. It is not compared to a beautiful sunny day. Instead, it’s depicted as something challenging to maintain but well worth the emotion and storm clouds.
It’s likely Frost wrote this poem in order to explore the nature of love while also embracing a particular set of challenges with one person. His speaker addresses a specific listener throughout the poem, encouraging them to embrace the rain as well.
Readers who enjoyed ‘A Line-storm Song’ should also consider reading some other Robert Frost poems. For example:
- ‘Christmas Trees’ – depicts two different types of men in ‘Christmas Trees,’ one who wants to buy Christmas trees and the other who debates selling them.
- ‘After Apple-Picking’ – begins with an apple-picker’s thoughts after a day of work. The poem goes on to explore themes of life and death.
- ‘A Question’ – a powerfully emotional poem. In it, the poet paints a picture of suffering, pointing to the fact that life itself is filled with scars of the soul and body.