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Literary Analysis of Robert Frost Poetry

By: Moss


Who was Robert Frost? He was the most popular American poet of the twentieth century. Robert Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874. In 1912, he moved to England where his first volumes were published to great acclaim. Frost was influenced by many poets of his time including Ezra Pound, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves. Specifically, Ezra Pound gave Frost feedback in his poems and wrote strong, complimentary reviews of many. She also contributed greatly to his fame. His wife Elinor was the inspiration of his poetry until her death. He won four Pulitzer Prizes, a record that still holds true today. He died in 1963.

Each of his poems has a different meaning or emphasizes a particular idea. The poems are “October,” written in 1915, “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” written in 1923 and “A Cliff Dwelling.” Everything needs to be valued, the beauty of nature be cherished and legacies that people have left behind be remembered. He explains that everything has its time to appear in our lives, and also a time to go away. The only thing we can do is enjoy it while it lasts. Frost had a deep connection with nature and always demonstrated it through his poems. He would get a lot of positive feelings every time he saw nature.

In Frost’s poem “October,” he hopes and wishes for time to pass by very gradually so he can fully enjoy the weather and take advantage of it before he dies. He urges his readers to also live and appreciate every moment of their lives to the fullest and never take anything for granted. No one ever knows when his or her final moments of life will be. An example where this statement is strongly highlighted is when he says, “Thy leaves have ripened to the fall; To-morrow’s wind, if it be wild, Should waste them all.” He references nature to draw out the meaning. He also uses winter as a metaphor, comparing it to death and finality, hoping that the winter weather that is to come doesn’t take away the beauty of the colorful autumn leaves. He chooses to use October as the title and also in the poem; it hails winters imminence and written in regards to its potential for destructive power although his tone demonstrates the hesitancy to show his emotions toward the “death of nature for another season.” During this month, nature’s growth is stopped by the frigid winters that follow it. He uses the concept of growth and development followed by death in his poem. He says in the poem, “ripened to the fall,” implying two separate meanings: 1) he notes that the leaves are changing color because of the autumn season, 2) the leaves have a purpose of growing and that is in order to fall off and die. He uses the words, “To-morrow they may form and go” to explain that nothing in nature or in the world will stay forever. He speaks about the transient nature of life and the ever-changing sphere of nature. A literary device that is used in this poem is repetition. It repeats the words, “O hush October morning mild.” He wants to live in an illusion, where nature is doing what he wants. He is asking nature to “Beguile us in the way you know,” asking to be tricked into an illusion, because it is much more pleasing than realism. Much through the middle of the poem, he uses words to describe and live in a reality where time is going by slowly. He says, “release one leaf at break of day; At noon release another leaf.” In order to really emphasize the heartfelt wish of the gradual change of time, he states, “one from our trees, one far away.” He really expresses the obligation to fantasize the need for the beauty of the autumn season. Likewise, in order to romanticize the beauty that surrounds him, he declares, “retard the sun with gentle mist.” This means holding back the sunshine and suggesting that the progress of the emerging sun should be delayed which can be achieved using the gentle mist that is there. The words, “Enchant the land with Amethyst” and “gentle mist.” This is a reference towards a fantasy, which Frost is trying to create. He wants the mist to turn the land purple, like Amethyst and hold the sun at bay to be able to enjoy the scenery. He mentions this “for the grapes’ sake.” He wants to preserve autumn for the sake of his art, his poetry. He uses the grapes as a metaphor for his poetry, the fruit of his labor. Similarly, in order to believe the illusion he is trying to create, he references grapes as a process of making wine. This is solely to blur the lines of the poem and allow Frost to enter a state of intoxication and fantasy. He has some punning fun using his name. He mentions, “burnt with frost.” Frost emphasizes the hopelessness inherent in his prayers and adds his name to make it a pun. Towards the end of the poem, Frost expresses and brings out his deep, profound concern with the passage of time. In a line of the poem he states, “must else be lost.” Here he is mourning the withering grapes caused by the upcoming winter season, but he is neglecting the fact that they will come back later in the spring. He is quite worried about holding onto each moment as they past by, because unlike the grapes that are soon to come back again, death is the finality for Frost, not a cyclical occurrence.

Likewise, in the poem, “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” he wishes nature to remain as it is and its beauty to never disappear. In this poem, it states that no purity can abide in physical reality. What is pure is almost uncontaminated. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” combines Frost’s attention to details of nature while stating his theme directly. The poem addresses the nature of beauty an innocence. The poem seems to say not only that change is predictable, but also that all change involves deterioration. The poem does not present the evolution of an insight as a buildup of examples all proving the same point. He starts off the poem by saying, “Nature’s first green is gold.” In these opening lines, Frost introduces nature as his subject, nearly personifying nature with the pronoun “her”. “First Green” indicates newness, the beginning of spring in lines 1-2. Frost creates a paradox, an internal disagreement because he claims that “green is gold.” Gold can be simply just a color, the reflection of the sun on a new growth. Culturally, gold also indicates something of great value. Yet, nature cannot keep it. Of all the colors, it’s the most difficult hue to hold on to. This seems to be the topic and the main idea he is trying to convey. He explains that every spring, the “first green” is always precious and just as valuable as “gold”, exploding with light, promise and happiness. This statement can be viewed literally and figuratively. Literally, the buds and maple trees of the spring appear gold in color before they turn into green leaves. This line also establishes a timeframe for the poem: the very beginning of spring. Figuratively, “gold” is a very prominent symbol of wealth and also in some places, considered a currency or interchangeable with actual money. Frost infers that the most cherished aspect of nature is the moment before the buds turn into leaves. Hypothetically, this is a metaphor. The most valuable time in a life occurs after birth, and just before maturity is established. Metaphorically, it is the “early spring” of a lifetime. Through the passing of spring, the golden green fades off of the leaves and brown consumes the earth in the fall. Subsequently after that, grey and white consumes the earth in the winter. Our lives are “gold” at that time since we are open to the whole world and ready to explore. We are ready to experience what life has to offer. This part of our life is the hardest to hold on to and cherish in our memories; it surely doesn’t last forever. We will eventually grow up and have to make decisions on our own on what we know is the right thing to do. As the leaves start to change color, from yellow to brown, and grow again, one leaf forms itself over and over again an endless cycle. This is known as Cyclic Monotony. While the scenery is beautiful and quite picturesque, the varied hues and shades of color become a monotonous reminder of the time and age. As people grow older, they no longer marvel at the trees with an astonished wonder like they used to as children. Instead, the seasons and colors are just a dreary background. Frost then alludes to the Garden of Eden. He says, “So Eden sank to grief.” This resembles an idyllic paradise, like that of the Garden of Eden, can also wither and become uninteresting. The allusion to the Garden of Eden signifies that even the most “perfect” places can only last for so long. By nature, there is always an end to everything. Scientists identify this as entropy, the gradual decline into nonexistence. The psychological aspect of this is that people only appreciate moments that don’t appear very frequently. If everyday were to be spectacular, soon would turn into unimpressive and just plain ordinary, yet we should still strive to make each day better than the day before. The “average” must exist for there to be an “above average.” Whether it’s the color of the leaves or nightmares, everything must diminish with time, just like life, people will have their ups and downs until the day they die.

The style of writing that Frost uses in each of the poems is very distinctive. He may have been explaining a similar concept or idea in all three poems, but the diction he used and the attitude he displayed are all different throughout each poem. In the poem, “October”, Frost uses October, the autumn season and its natural beauty to portray his idea. He then suddenly changes to the winter season following it, to show the genuine fondness of the magnificence and that each moment should be experienced to the fullest. Similarly, in “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, he uses the idea of color and how its natural beauty evolves over time. For example, the transformation from gold and green leaves to brown leaves. He wants us to enjoy the colorful season while it lasts and cherish those moments when you can’t experience them at that time.

In conclusion, Frost wants his readers to understand and accept that nothing lasts forever, not even people. A force, beyond our control, will soon affect our surroundings and will change what we see until the start of the nature cycle again. He wants us to realize the importance of nature and teach us to see the same. The beauty should be experienced and cherished and the legacies that people have left behind be remembered. This was the message Robert Frost tried to convey in these poems.


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