Essay PreviewMore ↓
Perhaps the most haunting poem in Mountain Interval is "An Old Man's Winter Night," a poem about an old man dying in the wintry climate of New England and alone. Here, more so than in "The Oven Bird," the comfort of a warmly human subject is held out; no one who ever responded to a Norman Rockwell magazine cover could but be taken by the old man, alone in his house ("All out-of-doors looked darkly in at him"), unable to summon up the resources to hold the winter night at bay:
What kept his eyes from giving back the gaze
Was the lamp tilted near them in his hand.
What kept him from remembering what it was
That brought him to that creaking room was age.
But if lovers of Rockwell had paused over these lines and tried to read and listen to them, they might well have noted how odd is their disposition. The "sense" of them is that the old man can't see out because the lamp won't permit him to see out -- all he gets back is an image of himself. And if he cannot see out, neither can he see in; he is so old that he can't remember how or why he is where he is. But what, in the prose paraphrase are concerned and sympathetic insights into the plight of old age, sound rather different when experienced through the sing-song, rather telegraphic formulations of the lines. As with "The Oven Bird" there is a heavy use of the verb "to be": "was" occurs three times in four lines, something a novice writer of poetry would try to avoid. And there are also three "whats," two of which occur in a single line ("What kept him from remembering what it was"), designed to make it hard to indulge in sad feelings about old age -- one notices the way that "age" is quietly buried at the very end of the next line.
Apropos of his sister Jeanie, Frost claimed that as he grew older he found it easier to lie awake and worry about other people's troubles. But he is at least as much a critic of such sympathetic identification with others -- lonely old men or oven birds -- as a practitioner of it. Or rather, some of the best poems in Mountain Interval derive their energy from the play of movement toward and withdrawal from the subject contemplated, play such as can be seen in two lines further on which summarize the old man in his setting;
How to Cite this Page
"The Voice of An Old Man's Winter Night." 123HelpMe.com. 05 Dec 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Textual dynamics is the dynamic interplay between the text and responder, and how this necessarily becomes a relationship between the writer and the reader rather than just the text. It forces us to question whether or not the barrier between fiction and reality is breached. And if the work is real, can it still be considered a work of art. And if it is fake can it be considered real. The texts, 'Orlando ' by Sally Potter and 'Sula ' by Toni Morrison are both, in a sense, biographies of fictional people, challenging traditional values and gender constructs.... [tags: Fiction, Novel, Character, Narratology]
1006 words (2.9 pages)
- The crisp New Hampshire air chilled the private school students with its sickly cold fingers as it would rage by with a fury that would disappear as soon as it came. The grey skies which hovered above stole away the sun so that the warring world around them seemed all the more dismal and depressing. Despite the hanging feeling of dread the weather and World War seemed to influence, the boys themselves were almost giddy with the merry thoughts that plagued their juvenile minds. It was almost the end of the day which would give way to a freezing night where most people would prefer to sleep or stay indoors; however, that was not the case with these merry men of the winter session as they hasti... [tags: boy, plans, posion, snow, prize, christmas]
1911 words (5.5 pages)
- She shakes her head. I say it again: Bianca, what happened, more of a statement this time than a question, and she shakes her head again but I can see her breaking down, eyes gleaming in the twilight. What happened. She looks at me. You really want to know. Yes. Just tell me. And so she does. * * * * It takes a week and another twelve-pack and pint of vodka for me to confront him, even though Bianca made me promise not to. We’re watching TV in McGloin, another rare night with Tom and Ryan in the room, too, the three of us on the couch, Seth at his desk on his computer.... [tags: 2008 singles, 2007 singles, 2006 singles]
1512 words (4.3 pages)
- The narration of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye is actually a compilation of many different voices. The novel shifts between Claudia MacTeer's first person narrative and an omniscient narrator. At the end of the novel, the omniscient voice and Claudia's narrative merge, and the reader realizes this is an older Claudia looking back on her childhood (Peach 25). Morrison uses multiple narrators in order to gain greater validity for her story. According to Philip Page, even though the voices are divided, they combine to make a whole, and "this broader perspective also encompasses past and present...... [tags: Toni Morrison The Bluest Eye]
1114 words (3.2 pages)
- The second half of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th are sometimes called in England ”The Age of Shakespeare”. William Shakespeare’s the greatest English poet and dramatist and an indisputed world figure in literature. Altought his works (37 play, 154 sonnets and two long poems) are well knwnall over the world we know little about his life. Shakespeare was born on 23 April 1564, at stratford –upon-Avon, a little town in the heart of England. He was educated at the local grammarschool but as his father’s business went from bad to worse, he had to leave school and begin to earn his living.... [tags: essays research papers fc]
725 words (2.1 pages)
- There are a couple of recurring themes in the book by Italo Calvino, If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. Of these, two themes are “Despite how complicated a situation or problem gets, at the end, when it is solved, you are back at where you started” and “ When you are in love you see your loved one everywhere you go and in everything you do. The first theme is the one that encompasses the whole book, although it is more of a hidden one. At the beginning of the novel, the Reader buys the new book by Italo Calvino, also named as the title of this novel, and begins reading it.... [tags: If on a Winter's Night a Traveler]
618 words (1.8 pages)
- Tristan's eyes fell into the blonde as she leap off him, her cheeks tinging a soft pink now. He grinned a bit as she tilted her head to the side, running her eyes over his face, probably trying to guess his age, as he was doing with her. The blonde moved forward and kissed her daughter's head. "Johanna, take Katrina inside for me?" she asked the baby-sitter. Nodding she wrapped an arm around Katrina's shoulders, leading her inside. The blonde turned to Tristan again, running her fingers through her thick locks.... [tags: bonde, kiss, badge, doctor]
634 words (1.8 pages)
- The Fairy-tale of If on a winter's night a traveler In the past, fairy-tales have been a major form of writing for the great minds of the imaginative authors of the world. In search of cultural roots, much of Europe focused on its folktale and fairy-tales. However, Early Modern and Contemporary Italy took its tales and changed, manipulated, and combined them, having dissimilar concerns as the other societies of Europe. Influenced by his nation's overall approach to its heritage, Italo Calvino, in his novel If on a winter's night a traveler, is blatantly provided with a fundamental structure, plot, and theme through his use of the fairy-tale.... [tags: If on a winter's night a traveler]
1258 words (3.6 pages)
- I felt the waxy goo before I saw it. Squinting, for a better look, I carefully separated the hair that grew from his temples, ordinarily bristling white, but now suspiciously black and tarry. Interrupting my cutting, I ventured, "Doug, what's all over your hair?" As I awaited his reply, I contemplated my long professional relationship with the man seated before me. I cut hair and work with hairpieces for a living. I design, install, and maintain them for fees far below those of large companies whose lavish infomercials are viewable following David Letterman's show.... [tags: Personal Narrative, Autobiographical Essay]
1043 words (3 pages)
- Old Age in An Old Man's Winter Night and Follower This poem has a very direct title which intices the audience to find out more and is very similar to that of a Hollywood movie and uses plain language. From the 1st line we can see the boy’s possessiveness of his father from the words “My” we also know it is referring to the past from the tense of the word “worked” we also find out that he works on a farm. In the next 3 lines we can see the poets admiration for his father by the way he talks about the size of the man “globed like a full sail strung” and his strength.... [tags: Robert Frost Seamus Heaney Essays]
1416 words (4 pages)
- Catcher in the Rye Essay: Rebel with a Delicate Psyche
- English Society and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels
- The Character of Casey in The Grapes of Wrath
- Knowles' Separate Peace Essays: The Theme of A Separate Peace
- A Destructive Society Exposed in Steven Crane’s Maggie A Girl Of The Streets
- Language and Style in The Grapes of Wrath
A light he was to no one but himself
Where now he sat, concerned with he knew what.
By itself, the first of these lines could figure as a compelling and moving statement of the human condition, eyesight and insight failing as death comes on. And, typically, Frost won't let us read it just that way, although having said it the poem lodges it in our minds. But the inspiring saying does not stand by itself, isolated in a memorable line; instead, it continues over into the next one, flattening out the ringing declaration by moving it to the homely, revealing, "Where now he sat," then continuing by acting as if the old man's concerns can't be our concern -- we can't know the "what" that only he is concerned with. An even more forceful, because final, example of this movement toward and away from the subject of contemplation occurs in the poem's final three lines which took at the man, now fallen asleep after "he consigned to the moon" not his soul to keep, but "his snow upon the roof, / His icicles along the wall to keep":
One aged man -- one man -- can't keep a house,
A farm, a countryside, or if he can,
It's thus he does it of a winter night.
The voice becomes broadly expansive as it moves from "aged man" to the generic "man," separated by expressive dashes; then from house to farm to the larger countryside, as if it is about to break under the weight of all this intimidating, alien nature. And having arrived at just the point where such a break might be imagined, the sentence turns itself around in the middle of a line, with the important "or" -- "or if he can, / It's thus he does it of a winter night." That is where we are to end, with the "what" encountered earlier now transformed into an equally blunt "thus." We know how "thus he does it," but all we know is what we have been shown about it by the poem. Frost's procedure, again typically so, is not to send us out into a "real" world of lonely, aged men on New England farms (they could as well be Minnesotan or Nebraskan ones) but back into the poetic life given sound and shape in a particular, even a noticeably peculiar, order of words and sentence sounds. It is there that any house-keeping, or life-keeping, will have to be accomplished.
Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered. William Pritchard. 1984