Robert Lee Frost published his first book of poems entitled A Boy's Will in 1913. From this collection come one of several poems that critics and anthologists alike highly regard as both lyrical and autobiographical in nature. One such critic, James L. Potter, in his book entitled [The] Robert Frost Handbook, explains "[that] Frost wore a mask in public much of the time, concealing his personal problems and complexities from his reading and listening audiences" (Potter 48). Through "The Tuft of Flowers," a kind of lyrical soliloquy, Frost "half-intentionally" reveals his personal views on the theme of fellowship (Potter 48).
In the first of three transitions the speaker, most likely a farmer, comes out to a field just after dawn to turn the freshly mown grass to dry in the sun. The farmer then searches for the mower, but finds he is all alone. Here, the reader senses the loneliness of the scene. Frost's use of figurative language such as the "leveled scene" and "an isle of trees" gives evidence to the speaker's mood of pessimism and loneliness as the speaker implies he must be "as he had been--alone" (4-5, 8). Potter writes that Frost "was often riddled with doubts aboutÖhis role in relation to his family and friends, and even his poetic powers" (Potter 47). We, too, get the sense the speaker (Frost) is suggesting that throughout his life he feels alone quite often and longs for the kinship of his fellow human being.
While the speaker yields to this pessimistic train of thought, a "bewildered butterfly" passes by "on noiseless wing" and ushers in the second transition of the poem (12). Frost uses the scene with the butterfly in the next several couplets to su...
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..., Potter writes:
The shared happiness represented here... seem to be more than simply a personal relationship between two [farmers]; rather it is a general benevolence which... makes for a good world. [This] feeling is shared by the two mowers in "The Tuft of Flowers." The speaker, finding a tuft of flowers left deliberately by a previous mower, senses "a spirit kindred to [his] own" and concludes that "men work together... / Whether they work together or apart."(Potter 89)
Upon closer reflection, we the reader could generalize the poem's meaning to indicate humanity's need to be a part of society outwardly, and inwardly keep the fields of our hearts free from the things that would choke out "The Tuft of Flowers."
Frost, Robert. "The Tuft of Flowers." Robert Frost Handbook. Ed. James L. Potter. University Park: Penn State UP, 1980.
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