During the height of Robert Frost’s popularity, he was a well-loved poet who’s natural- and simple-seeming verse drew people - academics, artists, ordinary people both male and female - together into lecture halls and at poetry readings across the country.1 An eloquent, witty, and, above all else, honest public speaker, Frost’s readings imbued his poetry with a charismatic resonance beyond that of the words on paper, and it is of little surprise that people gathered to listen. Yet it remains somewhat ironic that his poetry would possess this power to bring individuals together - poetry that, for the most part, contains a prevailing theme of alienation, of a sense of separation from society, of isolation and aloneness in an uncaring world. Running parallel with this is a second theme concerned with the interaction between the human and the non-human: occasionally the ‘non’ may serve as a comfort for the dispossessed - but more often, the interaction between the two is destructive and disastrous. An analysis of a sample of his works - in this case his second book, North of Boston, as well as a few of his later poems - reveals these recurring themes, and the different interpretations Frost brings to them.
It is this variety of interpretations that is fascinating: though his firmly held “. . . belief that everybody was a separate individuality and that collective enterprises could do nothing but weaken the self”2 clearly led to this feeling of loneliness or separation that permeates his works, he does so without falling into a sense of needless pessimism, taking great care to bring out the themes’ multiple aspects under varied contexts. These contexts are: poe...
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...l fireplace - are a little harder to place, though.
7 Another poem, this one outside of North of Boston, that deals with this identical theme is The Tuft of Flowers - except that one emphasis the separationn between the workers, and leaves it ambiguous wether this separation is a good or bad thing.
8 Although there are a few indications of regret/displeasure: his walk is a repentance, his walking is a profanation. And are ‘the cottages in a row’ indeed a sufficient substitution for a companion (‘No one at all with whom to talk...’)?
9 Frost, and specifically North of Boston, lends itself especially well to feminist criticism. With poems such as The Death of the Hired Man, Home Burial, A Servant to Servants, The Generations of Men, The Housekeeper, and The Fear, each of them dialogue pieces, there is an abundance of male/female interaction to be analyzed.
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