No matter the elaborate chicanery afforded its disclosure or evasion, the subject of death relentlessly permeates the minds of men. Death and its cyclical, definitive nature connects all humans to one another. Robert Frost in "West-Running Brook" and John Donne in "Meditation 17" provoke a universal reexamination of the relationship between life and death. While both authors metaphorically represent this relationship, the former assumes a pessimistic approach by negating any correlation between the two, whereas the latter, voicing man’s dependence on G-d, optimistically surmises the crossover a restoration of our natural haven.
Frost utilizes "West-Running Brook" as a catalyst towards an insightful philosophy comparing human existence to a west-running brook. The westward direction of the brook informs the reader of the poem’s focus on death due to the inherent archetypal associations between death and the sunset, which occurs in the west. "Running" and a stylistically choppy sentence structure convey the poet’s belief in the rapid and ephemeral pace of life. Repetition of the phrase "runs away" ("it runs away, it seriously sadly runs away") serves as a constant reminder of this transient aspect of life while adding an element of despair and loneliness. "The Frostian consciousness normally resides in the time-space continuum, and finds it extremely difficult to move behind or beyond…while remaining drenched in skepticism(Hart 442)." "What all this comes to is a detachment which in its cultural context is a poetry of isolationism(Traschen 63)." Frost’s isolation accosts the reader who cannot help but to sympathize and possibly empathize with his situation. Frost’...
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...d Brave Scorn: John Donne. Duke University Press, 1982. 178.
Kemp, John C. Robert Frost and New England: The Poet as Regionalist. Princeton University Press, 1979. 273.
Lewalski, Barbara. Protestant Poetics and the Seventeenth Century Religious Lyric. Princeton University Press, 1979. 253-282.
Murry, John. "Donne’s Devotions." The Times Literary Supplement.11 Mar. 1926. No. 1260.
Ogilvie, John. "From Woods to Stars: A Pattern of Imagery in Robert Frost’s Poetry." South Atlantic Quarterly. Winter, 1959. 64-76.
Sherwood, Terry. Fulfilling the Circle: A Study of John Donne’s Thought. University of Toronto Press, 1984. 231.
Traschen, Isadore. "Robert Frost: Some Divisions in a Whole Man." The Yale Review. Vol. LV, No. 1. Autumn, 1965. 57-70.
Untermeyer, Louis. "Still Robert Frost." Saturday Review of Literature. 22 Dec. 1928. 71-74.
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