An Annotation of The Gift Outright by Robert Frost Essay

An Annotation of The Gift Outright by Robert Frost Essay

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An Annotation of The Gift Outright by Robert Frost


In "The Gift Outright," Robert Frost traces the development of American culture from colonial times to a more present perspective. He tells the American story of colonialism, freedom, westward expansion, and the quest to develop a specifically American culture. In doing this, he focuses on explaining ways in which Americans supported the growth and development of their country and culture. Frost suggests that Americans showed their allegiance to their developing country and culture in several ways: battlefield bravery, commitment of talents to the good of the country, and dedication to expanding the United States' land and power. His reflection on the past is also a call for action in the future. He acknowledges that American culture is still not fully developed and the continued dedication of Americans, like occurred in the past, is required for the United States to recognize her full potential.

The Gift Outright
By Robert Frost

The land was ours before we were the land's.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England's, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something that we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such she was, such as she would become.

The "belonging" discussed in line one immediately establishe...


... middle of paper ...


...een physical and cultural American growth. Although the early country was growing in land and although the Americans had surrendered their talents, Frost ironically says that Americans were still "unstoried, artless, and unenhansed." This final statement of the poem seems to imply that Frost saw that citizens' unity was really created by "the gift outright" of talents and work, but that the American culture they were seeking to make is still unfulfilled. Throughout the poem, Frost does seem to be saying that Americans were making advancements towards creating an American culture, such as when Americans "found salvation in surrender." In the end, though, Frost realizes that America is still "unstoried, artless, and unenhanced" and presents Americans again with the persistent goal of giving themselves outright in order to continue to build a uniquely American culture.

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