Robert Frost Home Burial - The Three Tragedies of Home Burial

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The Three Tragedies of Home Burial

Robert Frost’s "Home Burial" is a narrative poem that speaks of life’s tragedies. The theme of "Home Burial” centers around the death of a child. During the time period in which the poem is set, society dictated that men did not show their feelings. Therefore, men dealt with conflicts by working hard and being domineering. "Home Burial" demonstrates how one tragedy can cause another to occur.

The unnamed couple in this poem has lost a baby to death. The mother grieves openly, and it could be said that she has never recovered from this loss; bereaved parents never forget, but most people in this position gradually work out a way of dealing with their grief, and go on with their lives. This the young mother cannot do. The baby is buried in the family graveyard, which is visible from an upstairs window of their house. Day after day she goes to the stairway window looking out upon the nearby family plot. The sight of the raw mound where her child lies buried reopens her grief. But, another emotion wells up as well – anger and bitterness at her husband, which is at first unexplained. The first hint of the rift between them shows up on lines twelve to thirteen, she "refused him any help, with the least stiffening of her neck and silence." Their dialogue is cold and antagonistic. "What is it—what? /Just that I see. / You don’t, she challenged. /Tell me what it is."(18-19). The death of child, which should bind husband and wife closer in their common grief, pries them apart instead (Gerber 128).

In the husband’s first two lines as wells his last one, his attitude toward his wife is domineering and seems insensitive. First he tells her " he wants to know" what she keeps looking at ...

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...n the mind’s eye one could see the gravel sliding back into the hole. We could actually visualize the mound getting higher.

There were three different tragedies that transpired throughout this poem. The burial of the child was first; second was the burial of the marriage and finally the most symbolic and ironic tragedy is the burial of the home. Because of unfortunate circumstances these three things became closely associated with the home being buried. All of these tragedies occurred as a result of the child’s burial. The couple’s marriage could not survive such an emotional loss. Therefore the marriage becomes buried. When the marriage became buried the home became its own burial spot for this family’s life.

Works Cited:

Frost, Robert. 1972. "Home Burial." Robert Frost’s Poetry and Prose. Ed. Edward Connery Latham and Lawrence Thompson. New York: Holt.

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