An Analysis of Robert Frost's Once by the Pacific Essays

An Analysis of Robert Frost's Once by the Pacific Essays

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An Analysis of Robert Frost's Once by the Pacific


Most readers are familiar with the poetry of Robert Frost, but they may not be familiar with his poem "Once by the Pacific." This poem stands out from most of his popular poems, which frequently relate to rural New England life. Many critics have thus commented that his works are too simple. "Once by the Pacific," however, seems to challenge this opinion, as it is one of Frost's more "difficult" poems to interpret.


Although this poem also is connected with nature, the theme is more universal in that it could be related to Armageddon, or the end of the world. Even though this theme may seem simple, it is really complex because we do not know how Frost could possibly relate to the events leading to the end of the world. It is an "uncertain" and sometimes controversial topic, and even if everyone was certain it was coming, we do not know exactly how it will occur and when. Therefore, how did Frost envision this event? Is he portraying it in a religious context, a naturalistic one, or both? The last line (14) speaks of God putting out the light, which brings out a religious reference, but the bulk of the poem deals with nature entirely. Physical images of water, clouds, continents, and cliffs present a much more complex setting than the simple setting in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" or the yellow wood in "The Road Not Taken."

As a "misty" rain settles on the waters, all the waves have the intent to pound the earth with destructive forces, and it seems as though Frost personifies these waves. For example, the waves "thought of doing something to the shore / That water never did to land before." Is Frost portraying God as in control of t...


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...wn. In this poem, Frost challenges this doubt with his "certainty" of these future events.

Although Frost lays out an ultimatum of these events to come, it is up to the reader to come to his own resolution to these images. This is why Frost paints this intense picture by the waters-to challenge the reader in a natural setting as to how to deal with it. As James Guimond stated in the anthology, "he assumed the lone individual could question and work out his or her own relationships to God and existence-preferably in a natural setting and with a few discrete references to Christianity and Transcendentalism" (1147). Therefore, it can be interpreted that Frost intended to blend nature with religion in these images. The confusion the reader deals with is matched by his own epiphany in dealing with the experience, and the result is a balance between the two.

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