Comparing the Voice of Frost in Mending Wall, After Apple-Picking, and The Wood-Pile
1354 Words6 Pages
The Voice of Frost in Mending Wall, After Apple-Picking, and The Wood-Pile
The "persona" narratives from the book - "Mending Wall," "After Apple-Picking," and "The Wood-Pile" - also strive for inclusiveness although they are spoken throughout by a voice we are tempted to call "Frost." This voice has no particular back-country identity, nor is it obsessed or limited in its point of view; it seems rather to be exploring nature, other people, ideas, ways of saying things, for the sheer entertainment they can provide. Unlike poems such as "Home Burial" and "A Servant to Servants," which are inclined toward the tragic or the pathetic, nothing "terrible" happens in the personal narratives, nor does some ominous secret lie behind them. In "The Wood-Pile," for example, almost nothing happens at all; its story, its achieved idea or wisdom, the whole air with which it carries itself, is quite unmemorable. A man out walking in a frozen swamp decides to turn back, then decides instead to go farther and see what will happen. He notes a bird in front of him and spends some time musing on what the bird must be thinking, then sees it settle behind a pile of wood. The pile is described so as to bring out the fact that it has been around for some time. With a reflection about whoever it was who left it there, "far from a useful fireplace," the poem concludes. And the reader looks up from the text, wonders if he has missed something, perhaps goes back and reads it again to see if he can catch some meaning which has eluded him. But "The Wood-Pile" remains stubbornly unyielding to any attempt at ransacking it for a meaning not evidently on the surface.
This surface is a busy one, as when the speaker meets the bird:
A small bird flew be...
... middle of paper ...
...essing it, when he has no audience to be bullied or flattered, when he is free, and speech takes one form and no other." Despite the presence of back-country characters and scenes in this "book of people," it is as a book of sentence sounds that it most truly exists, as a triumphant vindication of the poetic theory Frost had designed, and as a monument to how much could be accomplished by trusting to the rendering of speech. At the end of "Home Burial," the wife lashes out at her husband in exasperation: "You - oh, you think the talk is all . . ." But for the composer of these poems, the talk is all, whether that of his imagined characters or of himself speaking aloud.
Frost, Robert. "Mending Wall." The Norton Anthology of American Literature.
Ed. Julia Reidhead. 5th ed. 2 vols. New York: Norton, 1998.
Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered.