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Robert Frost’s poems are well-read and discussed, because the issues they examine are timeless and will never go out of fashion. They are easy to read, but not so easy to understand allowing various interpretations. They transcend the boundaries of time and place focusing on the exploration of human nature that is versatile in its beauty and contradictions. Robert Frost’s poems have a lot of things to offer to modern readers. Although written almost a century ago, his poems still are weirdly personal, irresistible, and even addictive. In the vast sea of American poetry, Robert Frost’s poems keep afloat, due to the poet’s outstanding talent to “pack” each line with meaning.

At times, his poems seem bittersweet, ironic, or simply contemplative on the surroundings. One can also notice autobiographical details, which have left their imprints on his most famous works. The poet suffered great losses in his life, namely the untimely death of his mother, two kids, wife and sister. He knew the depths of despair as well as delight in observing nature that was a source of inspiration for the poet. Themes of life and death, love and hate, happiness and despair go hand in hand and give his works incontestable preponderance in American fiction. Frost was awarded with four Pulitzer Prizes that attest to his talent and hard work. His record remains unsurpassed by any other poet.

Most of his life Frost spent “in the background” of fame. He went through various challenges and difficulties in life. His poems are heartfelt, because the poet drew from his personal experience rather than simple contemplations about fate. Health problems and deaths of his family members could not but influence many of Frost’s poems setting a gloomy and tense atmosphere. However, there are many other poems, which celebrate joyful moments and evoke positive feelings in the readers. In all probability, they were written in times of peace and comfort that Frost found in close proximity with nature at the farm South Shaftsbury, Vermont. Jay Perini, one of Frost’s biographers, described the poet as a loner who liked to be surrounded by people. Although his family ranked as number one in the list of his priorities, he often withdrew to solitude producing the most brilliant and inspiring pieces of poetry.

Frost’s poems are liked for their simplistic and almost colloquial style. Natural speech patterns make the poems practical and ordinary and therefore, most of the people can understand them without difficulty. Frost’s poetry is devoid of elaborate phrases. On the contrary, his poems strike with laconism, which allows conveying more elaborate ideas and thoughts without stating them explicitly. In terms of poetic structure, Frost’s poems are often praised for the smooth and uninterrupted flow of events. He focuses on a complete event rather than a single vision. Distinct images or metaphors are usually at the heart of the poems. Frost also makes a blank verse as meaningful and captivating as iambic meters.

Fire and Ice is a short nine lines long poem that touches upon a controversial issue that is broadly discussed these days, namely the end of the world. The narrator contemplates the two natural forces, fire and ice, both pernicious in their destructive power. As these elements are opposed to one another, so are the conflicting emotions often associated with them: passion or desire and hatred, which are equally destructive for human beings. In the first two lines, the poet presents a clear dichotomy between the natural elements that cause a division within a society. Considering the two destructive options, the reader will inevitably get the feeling that the world’s fate is sealed.

Frost wrote this poem in the time of a heated scientific debate about the world’s end. However, he did not focus on the scientific perspective of the issue, but emphasized the emotional side. His metaphorical rendering of the two elements is the most significant. The world is usually recognized as a metaphor for a relationship. Too much passion or desire as well as too much hatred or indifference has, as a matter of fact, a harmful impact and can easily bring about the “end” of a relationship. The use of alliteration in Fire and Ice is accounted for the sing-song effect that reinforces the mood of the poem. The rhythmic pattern of the poem is iambic pentameter that changes to dimeter in the second, eighth and ninth lines and tetrameter in the fifth line. The change in meter signifies the importance of certain parts of the poem making the reader pay special attention to the previous lines. Frost skillfully combines the contemplations about the world’s end and destructive feelings in a relationship leaving indelible impression on modern readers who still crave for revelatory yet simple truths. 

Frost’s poem Birches written as a blank verse consists of 59 lines that call for various interpretations and levels of understanding. Visual and auditory images are easily recognizable and animate the physical space of the poem. The poet discusses various important issues such as life and death, good and evil, joys and tribulations making sure that certain questions will linger in the hearts and minds of readers. The tone of this poem is somewhat reminiscent, contemplative and weary. Memories of childhood and anguishes and trials of adulthood are intricately interwoven into the fabric of the poem. Frost describes his childhood in a light-hearted and simple manner that evokes a myriad of warm and positive feelings in the reader. However, ease and happiness are quickly changed to weariness that many adults feel when they advance in years and approach the end of their lives wishing for peace and rest.

The birch trees, in all probability, stand for human lives. People are strong and unbent in adolescence, but as the years of storms go by leaving its marks, they become bent and tired with knowledge and experience. The ice storm is a metaphor for life, while tree-climbing is a metaphor for human aspirations. The transition from childhood to adulthood is not easy and often painful and compared to bending a tree: “They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load, / And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed / So low for long, they never right themselves: / You may see their trunks arching in the woods / Years afterwards” (14-18). For Frost, “life is too much like a pathless wood” (44) and branches and cobwebs that cling and whip a person’s face symbolize hardships and problems that people eventually overcome as they continue their journey through life. The poet unambiguously expresses his belief in reincarnation in the lines: “I’d like to get away from earth awhile / And then come back to it and begin over” (48-49). Frost reminds us that there may be many moments in life, when we would feel like giving up, yet difficulties make us stronger. I believe that many people, in spite of their age or experience, can relate to this capacious and intricately structured poem that moves at once backward, forward, inward, and outward.

Another example of Frost’s literary eminence is the poem Mending Wall. It is also written as a blank verse. The forty five lines are narrated in the first person. Frost maintains iambic stresses, but he is flexible with the form, probably, in order to create a conversational tone of the poem. Frost creates two distinct characters who have different ideas on being a good neighbor. Thus, juxtaposes two types of thinking or mentality, namely old-fashioned represented by the neighbor, and modern expressed by the speaker himself. The writer obviously wants us to answer the question whether the borders are necessary to maintain relationships between people. He does not wait for the reader’s response and offers his point of view which has nothing to do with routine, habits, and traditions. It is hard to disagree with him, especially taking into account that we live in the age of eliminating conventions that impede successful interaction and mutual understanding. Although the narrator is skeptical about his neighbor’s desire to keep a wall between them, he actually initiates wall-mending and is more active in the undertaking. Perhaps, his skeptical questions can be interpreted as his feeble attempts to justify his own behavior, which is no different from his neighbors, and both men cling to the concepts of property, ownership, and individuality. The act of mending a wall brings two men closer and allows them to develop their relationship through the joint action. For some people barriers are confines, while for others they are challenges to overcome. There is one question we must answer for ourselves: who are we: breakers or menders of walls?

Frost’s poetry can be distinguished for its lyric form, figurative language, personification of nature and extraordinary visual and sensory perceptions. Frost’s poems demonstrate that he has a penchant for playing upon contrasts or polar opposites. Fire and ice, desire and hate, childhood and adulthood, friendliness and indifference, life and death are themes that encourage readers to reflect and formulate their own questions and discover the hidden meanings. With Frost, many interpretations are possible; despite the fact that the poet claimed his works were straightforward and simple. I appreciate his poetry in the first place, because he generously leaves the meaning making to us without imposing his ideas and beliefs. On the one hand, his poems are a great distraction from the mundane reality, while, on the other, they are solidly entrenched in this reality. They may conform to or deviate from our understanding, yet they should be taken for granted like something really valuable and significant.

The tone of Frost’s poems ranges from wistful to weary and lulling. With a few masterly strokes to structure and rhythm, the effects that his poems produce also differ. I am sure that after reading Frost’s poems, some people will analyze their relationships and do their best to improve them leaving no room for all-consuming passion, indifference, or hate in their hearts. Some will plunge into the bygone pleasures and carelessness of childhood; probably some will remember the dreams they have not fulfilled owing to the force of adverse circumstances. Still, others will be reminded of the challenges and fears they need to overcome. I also believe there will be those who will have to think twice before creating barriers and letting no one in their lives. And, of course, there will be people who will choose life with all its hardships and joys taking pleasure in what the present has to offer and making full use of the chances that come one’s way.

The universality of the experiences described by Frost wins him not only the worldwide acclaim, but also makes him a perfect model to emulate. In Frost’s poems nature is an embodiment of human virtues and vices. The poet favors images of nature with its simplicity to render the complexity of human beings and their existence in general. He discusses man’s estrangement from nature and man’s relationship with it. He also focuses on man’s mortality and ever present search for meaning. Although his poems do not shy away from the dark and depressing aspects of life, his speakers embrace living.

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