Robert Frost and His Poetry: Analysis of Home Burial

May 3, 2023
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Robert Frost

Robert Frost, a renowned American poet, was born on March 26th, 1874, in San Francisco, California. Later on, he became a celebrated poet and won several awards. One biography reports that Frost lived with his parents, William and Isabelle, but his father had a severe drinking problem that led to his death from tuberculosis when Frost was only eleven years old. The family then moved to Massachusetts, where Frost completed his studies at Lawrence High School. He graduated as one of two valedictorians and the class poet of 1892. His co-valedictorian was Elinor White, whom he later married. In the early years of their marriage, they had six children, but four of them died at a young age. While working as a reporter and a teacher, Frost attempted to publish some of his poetry. His dissatisfaction with the American poetry establishment led him to move to England. In April of 1913, Frost published his first book of poetry, "A Boy’s Will," which garnered him praise and attention as a poet.

Frost soon published his second book of poetry, "North of Boston," which contained poems such as "Home Burial," "The Road not Taken," and "After Apple Picking." Frost experienced an abundance of grief, losing his children and later his mother and wife. He soon moved back to the United States, where he eventually received four Pulitzer Prizes for his poetry. Frost found his voice through free verse poetry and by breaking the standards of poetry during this modernist era. He turned to common speech and used heavy figurative language. Known for his allusions to his real life in his work, he took his grief, struggles, and experiences and turned them into beautiful poetry. Frost grew throughout his lifetime, adapting and learning through his struggles, creating the great poet known to us today.

Analysis of "Home Burial"

In his poem, "Home Burial," Frost uses ambiguity, apostrophe, and repetition. His use of literary devices further enhanced the poem. Throughout the poem, Frost uses ambiguity several times. In "Home Burial," the poet writes, "

What is it you see / From up there always? / What is it you see? / I will find out you now- you must tell me, dear."

The use of ambiguity leaves readers wanting to know the answer. Readers don't know she is looking at their child's grave, creating a sense of suspense. This enhances the poem by keeping readers engaged and wanting to find out more.

In the poem, Frost uses apostrophe to create an emotional tone. In the poem, the wife states,

"You could sit there with the stains on your shoes / Of the fresh earth from your own baby’s grave / And talk about your everyday concerns. You had stood the spade up against the wall / Outside there in the entry, for I saw it."

While the wife vents her grief to her absent husband, it adds a tone of sadness, showing how differently they express their grief. The use of apostrophe gives the poem more of a voice and draws more emotion out of it.

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Throughout the poem, Frost uses repetition, which makes "Home Burial" feel more intense. In the poem, the husband repeatedly shouts, "Can't a man speak of his own child he's lost?" The statement, by itself, is powerful enough, but after it is repeated again and again, it gives the story more immense feelings and extreme tension. The use of repetition in the poem creates all of those emotions that make it feel as if the reader is standing in the room with the two characters. The collection of literary devices helps piece together the poem, creates more emotion, and keeps readers engaged.

Critical reviews

Robert Frost career as a poet received a great deal of critical reviews, however the positive criticism seemed to outweigh the negative. Majority of critics commented on how Frost seems to break from the standards poets were to uphold to during this time, the intense emotion his poems had, and how that impacted his poetry. One critic Lawrence Thompson enjoyed Frost’s style of poetry and how much emotion and symbolism was contained within them. The critic wrote,

“The core of his poetic theory, as of his poetic practice, is to be found in his use of sensuous response of loving and cherishing, first as important poetic images of human actions: then, simultaneously, as even more important symbols of divine worship”.

The critic was right about how Frost’s messages within his poetry were the most important element to creating some of the best poetry to exist. In Home Burial he created an allusion to the loss of his own children in his life and showed the effect that grief have on a marriage. His ability to take basic poetry and intensify it was his greatest quality.

Another Critic Hayden Carruth believes that Frost style of writing only worked for his first two books but was too arrogant to see it wasn’t working anymore and his poems were no longer poems. Carruth wrote,

“Frost saw that this was happening, and presumably he wanted to make it keep happening, but he ended by coercing his poems in formulaic and predictable ways. He ended not with poems but with editorials”.

It is not that Frost's style wasn’t working and was predictable, it is just that this critic just wasn’t a fan of Frost's poetry. The way he wrote his poems gained him an abundance of praise and respect as a poet.

Reflection and conclusion

Robert Frost's poetry has had a significant impact on American literature and has become a source of inspiration for many aspiring poets. Frost's ability to convey complex emotions through his simple and straightforward language is what sets him apart from other poets. His unique style of poetry has inspired generations of poets and writers to experiment with their craft and create something new and original.

I personally am a fan of Frost’s work and especially his poem Home Burial. Frost writes in dark and depressing tones, has unique ways of sharing emotion throughout the poem. Frost gained my respect by how real and raw his poem sounded. His use of figurative language improved the quality of the story and made it enjoyable to read. The storyline of Home Burial is an emotionally piece that I greatly enjoyed. Robert Frost's poetry will forever be around and received positive reviews.


  1. Frost, R. (1915). North of Boston. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company.
  2. Bloom, H. (Ed.). (2007). Robert Frost. Infobase Publishing.
  3. Poirier, R. (1991). Robert Frost: The Work of Knowing. Oxford University Press.
  4. Thompson, L. (1996). Robert Frost: The Years of Triumph, 1915-1938. University Press of New England.
  5. Beavers, R. (2014). Home Burial and Domestic Tragedy. In Robert Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered (pp. 60-79). Palgrave Macmillan.
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