Robert Frost: Hero Of Our Age Essay, Research Paper
Robert Frost: A True Hero of Our Age
Robert Lee Frost, one of America’s leading Twentieth century poets and a four time Pulitzer Prize winner, was born in San
Francisco in March of 1874. Although born on the West Coast, he is usually associated with New England in his poetry. He is a
Brilliant writer whose works traditional and universal. His life’s ambition was to write “a few poems that will be hard to get rid of,”
and it is quite obvious that he was successful in achieving that goal.
Three of Frost’s obsessive themes, those of isolation, of extinction and of final limitations of man are explored widely and explicitly in his poems. The isolation of the individual is apparent in the poem; “Mending Wall” in which Frost’s illustrates man’s necessity for barriers to isolate themselves from their fellow men whereas in “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” the persona himself wishes to be isolated. In “After Apple-Picking” Frosts questions the possibility of extinction of the soul when one’s mortal body becomes extinct. While in “Fire and Ice” Frosts looks at the ways in which humans can eliminate themselves because of the extremities of their uncontrollable emotions. The final limitations of man is presented and assessed in the poem “The road not taken”.
“Mending Wall” questions the necessity for human isolation. Walls whether physical or psychological represent isolation and imprisonment. In “Mending Wall” we find the persona interrogating his neighbour as to whether a wall is necessary between them “If I could put a notion in his head”. Frost in this poem uses a simple rural activity, that is the mending of a wall, to conjure a much more universal theme that is isolation. The persona ponders at the fact why man can not live without walls, boundaries, limits and particularly self-limitations. “There where it is/ We do not need a wall”. Isolation of the individual links to our desire for barriers and boundaries as a form of separation from other people. We find in “Mending Wall” the desire of a rural farmer to mend a wall every spring between him and the persona “And set the wall between us as we go”. The persona in this poem interrogates his neighbour as to the necessity of the wall “What I was walling in or walling out” thus questioning his desire for isolation. Primitive as the neighbour is, the only answer he could give to this interrogation is a clich “Good fences make good neighbours”. Isolation, through the use of barriers helps insure a comfort zone that is beneficial for both parties. However, the persona in this poem does not understand why it is beneficial and thus raising the issue of the necessity of the wall “Why do they (the wall) make good neighbours?”. Frost through this poem prompts us to contemplate relationships between humans as to why we have a desire to be separated and isolated from other people.
Contradictory in the poem “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” the persona here wishes to be isolated from society and from his mundane tasks. We find the persona in this poem a weary man who has responsibilities and burdens. These responsibilities stops him from the isolation in which he so desires in a tranquil environment that he discovered on one of his usual journeys. His desire for isolation could not surpass his commitments and he realises that there is still a long road ahead waiting for him. “Promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep”. The desire for isolation in “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” contradicts with “Mending Wall” where the necessity of isolation is being questioned. Isolation is an issue which transcends social class and generation gaps. We all want in ourselves on occasion barriers separating us for our own peace of mind and a desire for us to abandon the track of duty and embrace nothingness, that is isolation. Frost using “Mending Wall” and “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” has successfully brought up the issue of isolation in a subtle yet direct and non-preaching manner.
Another of Frost s poems, “Fire and Ice”, gives us two possibility of how we can lead to out own extinction through the extremities of our emotions that we can not suppress or control. Fire and ice are the extremes of two destructive forces. Fire symbolises passion and desire, however excessive passion leads to jealousy. When we are too consumed with passion, our emotions take over and this will lead to suffering as we may neglect other factors in our life that are just as important. “From what I’ve tasted of desire/ I hold those who favour fire”. Opposing to fire is ice, ice symbolise coldness and hatred. Similar to ice, excessive hate can lead to drastic outcomes as people let hate take control of them. “I think I know enough of hate/ To say that for destruction ice/ Is also great”. Humans are vulnerable when they are overwhelmed by the experiences in their life. This leads to the imbalance of emotions taking us to the extremes of one emotion that we can not control and our extinction will be an outcome. However, in “After Apple-Picking” Frosts looks at the forms of extinction that we may take. He looks at whether we go on and exist as a supernatural form or whether we are truly extinct when our mortal body is extinct “What form of my dreaming was about to take”. The theme of extinction in this poem is only tangent to the desire to be released from life, into death despite the incompleteness and disappointments in life
The final limitations of man are presented in The Road Not Taken and assessed to explore life’s different possibilities. The poem is a tale of a monumental moment in the persona’s life. He is faced between the choice of a moment and a lifetime manifested in the poem. Walking down a rural road the persona encounters a point on his travel that diverges into two separate similar paths “two roads diverge in a yellow wood”. The limitation in Frost’s poem is embodied in the divergent of the road and the decision between the two paths. The limitations being he can only pick one path, “sorry I can not travel both”, and here we see that he has arrived at the decision of selecting the road not taken. We as humans can not live a double life since we can only get one life to live, this being our limitation. As the persona proceeds down the unworn path, he realises there’ll be no way he can ever return to the deviation to experience the other route “Yet knowing how way leads on to way/ I doubted if I should ever come back”. Frost exhibits satisfaction for enduring the uncommon route, but at the same time he “sighs” with lamentation, pondering what he may have missed at the alternate avenue. Making “all the difference” by taking the road “less traveled” the persona becomes a product of his decision. The outcomes of the journey are the consequences of what is experienced unto finishing the journey. The choices a person makes in life are ultimately responsible for their future, yet at the same time a person can never return to the past and experience other possibilities, this being man’s final limitations. It is unfeasible to predict the outcomes of our decisions we make as we are only humans and as humans we have limitations. Often it is essential to make these decisions fixed on nothing more than questioning which selection will provide fulfillment. As successful life’s turnouts may be, there is always regret wondering how another path taken in life brings about other experiences.
Frost’s three obsessive themes, that are isolation, extinction and final limitations of man, are universal as they transcend every aspect of society. Frost uses plain, unelaborated words and images to convey his themes. He takes an ordinary experience and transforms it into a meditative moment, a philosophical encounter. As a skillful poet as Frost is, he is able to produce a profound response or feeling from the reader to three of his obsessive themes being isolation, extinction and final limitations. The extinction, limitations and isolation of the individual in either a social or natural environment relates to how difficult it is for the self to understand existence. The simplicity in Frost’s poems opens the door for many different interpretations. Frost through the selection of key words which effectively embodie the central meaning of the poem and also prompts the reader to look beyond the surface meaning of the language. This leads to the reader discovering deeper truth and attaining greater understanding of three of his obsessive themes.