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The Theme of Life and Death in Birches, by Robert Frost

The Theme of Life and Death in Birches, by Robert Frost

The poem "Birches," by Robert Frost, illustrates the authors ability to take what seems to be the mundane activities of life and turn it into something that holds a deeper meaning. The poem taken literally revolves around a boy living on the New England countryside "whose only play was what he found himself," in this case, riding birch branches. The poem is very literal in language but by analyzing each line, different themes and interpretations may be found. A more deeper and figurative meaning to "Birches" is its theme of life and death.

The poem begins with a description of the adventures of a young boy. The first half of "Birches" portrays the youthful pleasures of a lonely boy. Frost uses vivid description to create a picture of the birch branches bending under the weight of ice storms. " They are dragged to the witheredAnd they seem not to break; though once they are bowedSo low for long, they never right themselves." This statement has an underlying meaning that can be paralleled to a life theme: No matter what burdens suffered through life, an individual does not break but rather adapts. Another theme occurs when the boy had been swinging on the branches but then "Truth broke in." This can be interpreted that people like to live in a dream world, but in the end, reality prevails.

The second half of "Birches" begins with the boy riding the trees, "One by one he subdued his father's treesBy riding them down over and over again." Then, Frost addresses another theme of living in that one must proceed cautiously through life but not too cautiously. This is clearly presented when he says, "He learned all there wasTo learn about not launchi...

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..., as in "Birches," people learn to adapt to what they are dealt. Most times, the ending to a chapter in a person's life does not occur the way that they envisioned it, but they would not trade their memories for regrets.

Though Frost lived during modern times of the 1900's, his writing style is better compared to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow or William Cullen Bryant who both lived during the 1800's. That is because of his use of traditional language and style in his poems. Frost has a certain subtlety in his poems because of the completely literal writing language that he uses. The simplicity of "Birches" is what makes it such a well-known literary work, because to find what he means in many of his poems, including "Birches," often times one must overanalyze. Overall, Frost conveys a sense of realist optimism by using metaphorical and symbolic language.
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