Death In Frostian Poems Essay, Research Paper
The Issue of Death in poems by Robert Frost
While studying Frostian poems, a topic which tends to arise frequently, is the theme of death. In most poems, Robert Frost deals with this theme is different ways, however, the underlining direction of his thoughts usually point in the same direction.
To fully comprehend the way Frost deals with the topic of death, I have chosen three poems which directly deal with this subject. We shall explore these three poems to gain a better understanding of Frost s view of our ongoing theme : Death.
The first poem, Out, Out- , deals with the death of a boy, working with a buzz saw. After having an accident with this heavy piece of equipment, the boy s hand is chopped off, resulting in his death.
In this poem, the reader is introduced to the theme of death from the very beginning. The title, Out, Out- , was taken from the Shakespearian play, Macbeth . The line, Out, out brief candle was spoken by Macbeth, after the discovery of the death of his wife.
So one can see that Frost prepares the reader for the theme of death as early on as the title of the poem. This creates a certain anticipation of death, thus emphasising it s power when it comes later on in the poem. Other preparations undertaken by Frost to prepare the reader, is his use of alteration, onomatopoetic words and assonance as early on as the first line : ….snarled and rattled…
The use of these poetic techniques creates a certain atmosphere for the reader, again, preparing for the coming accident.
Frost does not limit himself to the uses of alteration, onomatopoetic words and assonance. His use of imagery also contributes to the content.This can be seen throughout the poem. One example of this is how the boys death is presaged with the mention of dust. The reader can associate this with the common sentence Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, which is usually spoken at a funeral, again, linking the reader s thoughts with the poem s topic of death.
After Frost has sufficiently prepared the reader for the accident, he plunges into it. He does this by personifying the saw, suggesting that at the word Supper , the saw, trying to prove it s comprehension, leapt out of the boys hand, cutting it off. Immediately, Frost brings the reader back to reality, blaming the accident on the boys hand. This is characteristic of Frost. It is frequent to see Frost suggest fantasies only to bring us back to a harsh reality.
It is important to consider how the speaker treats the death of the boy. In this case, the death is treated with complete indifference. Nobody in the poem is given a name, the doctor remains completely impersonal, and after the death of the boy, work is resumed, as if nothing ever happened.
A sense of complete isolation is created, emphasising the meaninglessness of the boy s death. Frost shows the reader that no matter what, life goes on, and that nothing can stop it. Not even the tragic death of the boy. However Frost never forgets to assign a certain importance to death. The ending of Out, Out- is an emphasis on the fact that death is the ultimate conclusion. This is particularly shown in the way the co-workers go back to work and the impersonal tone the speaker uses.
Another poem to be considered is Mowing . Although the theme of death is not dealt with directly, it is still a major part of the poem. In Mowing , Frost unravels the images of a man mowing grass. This grass eventually dies and forms new life.
Much like in most of his other poems, Frost prepares the reader for upcoming events. In mowing, the swinging whispering motion of his scythe can be linked to the image of the Grim Reaper . This personification of death is vital to the poem because it emphasises the importance and the power of death. It also adds on a certain mysterious side to it, which is compelling to the reader. This mysterious side complements the lack of knowledge man has about death.
Frost, much like in Out,Out- shows the reader the never ending circle of life. In Mowing , Frost conveys this by emphasising the death of the grass, but also placing an equal amount of importance on the fact that the death of the grass is necessary to create something new.
By doing this, Frost conveys to the reader the opinion that life is mysterious and it must go on, even if death is needed. This can be linked to the unimportance of the death of the boy in the poem Out,Out-
Another factor one must consider when studying Frost view on death is the hardships of life. This can bee seen in the third poem we shall be analysing : Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening .
In this poem, death is seen as a comfortable end as opposed to the struggles the speaker faces in life. The woods, which is used to illustrate death, are described as lovely, dark and deep . This shows the attractiveness of death, seeing as it is the final rest , however, Frost, as always, brings us back to harsh reality by ending the poem by repeating the line And miles to go before I sleep . This shows that he is not going to give up on life. And this is an important view that Frost always emphasises in his poems which deal with death.
On can conclude that Frost uses a multitude of techniques to deal with death in his poems. He emphasises the significance of it the theme, yet he shows it s insignificance in the big picture, otherwise know as life.