Nature in Connection to Humanity in Robert Frost's’ Work

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Nature is ever changing. Alongside the changes in seasons, changes in human life are occurring too. Just as nature is beautiful and pure, human life is the same. Robert Frost capitalizes these two aspects of life and uses it to give life to his poems. The aspects of nature can convey all types of human life experiences and emotions. Nature can convey the euphoria and pure bliss that everyone experiences, or it can signify melancholy and sadness that can lead to a downfall. Robert Frost shines light on all of these emotions and experiences in such a raw and natural way.

Anxiety and fear are some of the feelings expressed in Robert Frosts works’. In “The Vantage Point,” Lisa Hinrichsen argues that the “macroscopic vantage point review a variety of scenes that the self becomes subsumed” (Hinrichsen). The “too much” aspect of this poem is used as a representation of anxiety. As Robert Frost takes us through this poem, he is trying to bind these anxious feelings to an object. In this case, he is tying it to nature, trying to gain control.

I smell the earth, I smelled the bruised plant,

I look into the crater of the ant

Hinrichsen discusses that this poem looks down into its own hole, covertly containing loss into localized, specific images, reassertion control against a potential, peripheral chaos registered on the horizon of the poem. As said previously, the “chaos” Hinrichsen is referencing is the feeling of overwhelming anxiety. Frost is finding comfort in the solitude of nature. The title “vantage point” is in reference to a safe space: nature. Li Wang takes a closer look at Frosts’ poem “Desert Places” and the feeling of loneliness that looms over this poem. Wang discusses the title itself being a metaphor for loneliness, “referring to the abandoned places with few people there” (Wang 2093). Frost is trying to find who he is and/or where he is in the world. Where does he belong?

And the ground almost covered in smooth in snow

…A blanker whiteness of benighted snow

With no expression, nothing to express

These lines are encompassed with loneliness and desertion. The snow has covered everything in its’ path, no sign of human life anywhere. A blank slate and him alone with his thoughts, “pursing an unknown answer”(Wang 2093).

I am too absent-spirited to count;

The loneliness includes me unawares.

And lonely as it is that loneliness

Frost is trying to cope with this overwhelming feeling of desolation and seclusion from the outside world. Only here, in nature, does he find the answers he’s looking for. The use of imagery in this poem presents the reader with a clear image of a snow covered place, a blank slate of nothingness. By bringing the imagery of this isolated place, the readers are able to see and feel the type of solitude Frost is experiencing. Desert Places contains a startling concern in regards for the poet “of disappearing without any record of his having been there”(Wang 2092). The very thought that Frost could vanish into true loneliness and the fast falling snow would disguise any trace of his time there.

At first glance, the poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay” seems like a simplistic nature poem. Bernetta Quinn argues that his poem is not one “about sadness but of triumph, even in an earthly context”(Quinn 622). This poem outlines a countless amount of possibilities: the human race from Adam and Eve, the cycle of the year, and even the cycle on a daily basis. The break down of the poem in correlation to the cycles is that it is transitional. Inevitably day is preceded by night. Summer turns into fall and winter. All green leaves eventually turns to brown and decays. The youth of humans fleets into maturation, old age, and finally death. In retrospect to these transitionary and permanent cycles, it is in the golden moments that make life so precious. The main of this poem is that change is eminent and inescapable.

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

The first green can be depicted as one of the earlier seasons, spring. It can also be assumed that he means all life and all that it encompasses are susceptible to time. The last three lines from the excerpt above can be recognized as the part of the cycle of life. The line “her early leaf’s a flower” can be interpreted as the birth of nature, the bud turning into a flower. This can translate to the day turning into night, childhood aging into maturity, and spring transitioning into summer. The last line of the expert “but only so an hour” is making clear that once again time his fleeting and will eventually come to an end.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

From a different viewpoint than Quinns’, Rosanna Warren describes this poem as short but powerful, having “incantatory power” (Warren). Warren interprets this poem as a struggling conflict between the concepts of holding and losing. The theme of this poem is essentially time unfolding which is enclosed in the title and reiterated in the last line, “nothing gold can stay.”

Probably one of Frost most well-known poem, “The Road Not Taken”, is about him being caught at a crossroads, trying to rationalize within himself about which path to take. The two differing paths can be interpreted as a two life decisions the poet is presented with. Alongside the thought that this is about decision making, the poem can also be viewed as the idea of free will. Sayyed Moosavinia argues this idea of free will and how the poem “encompasses signs that leave a trace of determinism.” While it can be argued that the poet is not regretful of his decision, the word not in the tile can be a representation of regret.

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Here the poet discusses the conditions of the two paths, describing how the one path seemed to be the better choice based on condition of the road. This is another example of how Frost connects nature and uses it to express human experiences. These paths also represent the source of the choice being made, which actually questions the authenticity of the poet’s free choice.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-

I took the one less traveled by;

And that has made all the difference.

It is difficult to conclude whether or not the poet regretted his decision or not. Did taking the road less traveled make a positive or a negative difference? “Even the word sigh in line 16 does not determine the outcome of this choice” (Moosavina). This observation proposes the question of, was this a sigh of contentment or regret? The word sigh is incredibly simple, yet the context in how it is interpreted can change the entire meaning of the poem. The sigh could be a dejected sigh or one of happiness. However, instead of attaching a positive or negative connotation on the word, it could be important to think of it in a more simplistic manner. The sigh can be an audible release of breath or a contemplative sigh. Frost often conveys a feeling of isolation and solitude through his works, among these is his poem “Acquainted with the Night.” Again, Frosts’ use of bleak and dreary imagery assist the reader in further understanding the poem.

I have been on acquainted with the night.

I have walked out in rain-and back in rain.

I have outwalked the furthest city light.

These three lines gives the reader a feel of a dark and sad environment. An endless bleak environment and dying street lights. The opening line is used twice in this poem, this first use is to draw the curiosity of the readers. Start the poem off by having the readers wonder what Frosts’ acquaintance is with the night. In line 2, the use of the word rain twice, embellishes the gloomy setting of the poem.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.

I have passed by the watchman on his beat

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And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

By adding the character of the watchman, readers can connect him to the feeling of seclusion. Frost starts the first five lines of this poem with “I have,”conveys a more personal feeling to readers allowing them to relate to a situation as a ‘loner’ in a dark world.

But not to call back or say good-bye;

And further still at an unearthly height

One luminary clock against the sky

Frost creates a strong and vivid imagery in these three lines. The use of the word ‘luminary’ brings to life the image of the moon that looms over the city. Hopelessness and desperation is described in the eleventh line by stating that the moon is at an “unearthly height.” By giving the reader this image, Frost gives this feeling that loneliness is unavoidable and hope is out of reach.

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.

I have been one acquainted with the night.

The last line of the poem is the second time it has been used, here in the end and at the very beginning. The way this line is used at the end gives a sense of closing to the story of the poem. It is a conclusion to Frosts’ sadness. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is a poem about obligation, the journey of life, and once again solitude.

Whose woods there are I think I know,

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow

Frost sets up this scenery of a village in the woods, the village representing a society and civilization. The woods on the other hand, represent a lack of demand and responsibility. The woods are Frost is most comfortable, it is a place without obligation or societal expectations.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

Again Frosts expressing his content-ness with the woods and the lack of responsibility that it encompasses. The first line from the excerpt discusses the horse shaking its bells as if the horse realizes that something is wrong or off. That maybe it is too quiet without the deafening sounds of societal expectations and standards that are too high to reach. The poem finally concludes with a sense of acceptance.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

Although Frost is satisfied being in the woods, he still has a ways to go. The poet has found happiness in where he is right now, he is aware that he cannot stay stagnant. Frost describes the woods as lovely but that he has to go. The promises the poet talks about promise that he has to keep, which is another reference to the obligations he has back home. Frost expresses that he has miles to go still which can be referring to the rest of his life, future experiences, and the emotions that come with it. “And miles to go before I sleep” are the repetitive last two lines of this poem. The word sleep implies death which is the inevitable, ultimate destination. The reason for the repetitiveness is to show the importance of life.

Frost continues on this path of expressing his emotions and experiences through his poem the “Mending Wall.” This poem is about two neighbors repairing a wall. It connects the physical act of buildings a wall to the idea of boundaries. The wall is a representation of a physical boundary. Not only does it represent a physical boundary, it symbolizes the barrier of two people in other aspects of their lives. The most obvious barrier is the wall that is dividing the wall, although the reason for the wall is unknown.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out

And to whom I was like to give offense

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall

The wall is located in between the neighbor pine grove and the poets apple orchard, which raises the question, is there a point in how to trees are divided? The poet also questions the need for a fence in the first line of the above excerpt. It is the need for privacy? Although the poet does not know what the wall is being built but he repairs it every year.

Where they have not left one stone on a stone

But they would have the rabbit out of hiding

The wall represents the kind of barriers that humans put up to keep their vulnerabilities, insecurities, and secrets can remain tucked away. Once the wall is worn down there is a sense or a need to rebuild it in order to keep the opposite side from seeing in. Another instance of separation between private and personal are in lines 16 through 20.

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.

And some are loaves and some so nearly balls

We have to use a steel to make them balance:

“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”

The fallen boulders represent the holes in the wall that is built up to keep the outside world from seeing into ones’ personal life. This poem is just another example of how Robert Frost uses imagery and symbolism to connect to human life experiences.

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