Robert Frost’s nature poetry occupies a significant place in the poetic arts; however, it is likely Frost’s use of nature is the most misunderstood aspect of his poetry. While nature is always present in Frost’s writing, it is primarily used in a “pastoral sense” (Lynen 1). This makes sense as Frost did consider himself to be a shepherd.
Frost uses nature as an image that he wants us to see or a metaphor that he wants us to relate to on a psychological level. To say that Frost is a nature poet is inaccurate.
His poetry is in the main psychologically oriented with emphasis on specific recurring themes, which include, but are not limited to, loneliness, retreat, spirituality, darkness, and death. Frost said himself repeatedly, “I am not a nature poet. There is almost always a person in my poems” (quoted in Thompson). This may be hard for some to grasp, as Frost is world renowned for his alleged nature theme. Contrary to popular opinion, nature is not Frost’s central theme in his poetry; it is the contrast between man and nature as well as the conflicts that arise between the two entities.
Frost’s nature poetry interconnects the world of the natural and the world of human beings – Both key elements of his motivation in writing poetry. The harsh reality of nature and the thoughtless expectations in the minds of man scarcely cohere to one another. Frost usually starts with an observation in nature, contemplates it and then connects it to some psychological concern (quoted in Thompson). According to Thompson, “His poetic impulse starts with some psychological concern and finds its way to a material embodiment which usually includes a natural scene” (quoted in Thompson).
According to John F. Lynen, “Frost sees in nature a symbol of man’s relation to the world. Though he writes about a forest or a wildflower, his real subject is humanity…his concept of nature…is a paradox and it points toward the greater paradox in man himself” (4,5).
Lynen also states that “the struggle between the human imagination and the meaningless void man confronts is the subject of poem after poem” (6). On speaking of Frost’s nature poetry, Gerber says, “with equanimity Frost investigates the basic themes of man’s life: the individual’s relationships to himself, to his fellow man, to his world, and to his God” (117). All of these...
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...adily yield its meaning to anyone (Bloom 9). From that last statement, one can recognize that indeed Robert Frost’s nature poetry is more than blooming flowers and snowy nights; obviously there is an underlying psychological meaning in most of his poems.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views; Robert Frost First Edition, New York et al, Chelsea House Pub., 1986.
Marks, Herbert. “The Counter-Intelligence of Robert Frost”.
Pack, Robert. “Frost’s Enigmatical Reserve: The Poet as Teacher and Preacher”.
Gerber, Phillip L., Robert Frost Revised Edition, ed. Kenneth Eble, New York, Twayne Publishers, 1982.
Lynen, John F., The Pastoral Art of Robert Frost New Haven, Yale University Press, 1960.
Poirier, Richard and Mark Richardson eds. Robert Frost; Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays
1st Edition, New York, The Library of America, 1995.
Kennedy, X.J. and Dana Gioia, eds. Literature; An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry & Drama
7th Edition, New York, et al, Longman, 1999.
Frost, Robert, “The Road Not Taken”, 910
Thompson, Carol, “Frost and Nature” Bennington, The Friends of Robert Frost, 2000
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