The Hill Wife : by Robert Frost || Analysis

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The Hill Wife

It was too lonely for her there,
And too wild,
And since there were but two of them,
And no child.

And work was little in the house,
She was free,
And followed where he furrowed field,
Or felled log.

She rested on a log and tossed
The fresh chips,
With a song only to herself
On her lips.

And once she went to break a bough
Of black alder.
She strayed so far she scarcely heard
When he called her -

And didn't answer - didn't speak -
Or return.
She stood, and then she ran and hid
In the fern.

He never found her, though he looked
Everywhere,
And he asked at her mother's house
Was she there.

Sudden and swift and light as that
The ties gave,
And he learned of finalities
Besides the grave.

It was too lonely for her there, And too wild, And since there were but two of them, And no child.  And work was little in the house, She was free, And followed where he furrowed field, Or felled log.
The Hill Wife

Analysis

Introduction:

      The Hill Wife by Robert Frost is a sequence of five poems in Mountain Interval, depicting fear, love and loneliness. Written to cover a span of eight years, the five divisions present separate aspects of the same woman's mind as it progressively deteriorates to insanity. Two of the divisions are spoken by the woman while the other three are spoken by an omniscient narrator. The Hill Wife consists of five short poems. It is a poem in which the husband and wife are shown to be living like two lonely individuals under the same roof. Mentally and emotionally they are miles apart. The central character of the poem is the wife. Each poem reveals an independent facet of her mind - a psychological milestone in her disintegration into insanity.

Development of Thought:

      A lonely woman on a back country farm develops a dreadful fear in her isolation. First she fears the darkness, then she suspects plots against her life. In the third piece The Smile, she develops a neurotic fear of the smile of a passing tramp who stopped to ask for food and got only bread. She imagines all sorts of reasons for his smile. In the next section, she develops an obsessive fear of a huge pine tree outside her window that seems to her as if it is trying to undo the latch and enter the room. In the last section she is described as leaving home and husband and disappearing. The husband' tries to find her but unsuccessfully - "And he learned of finalities besides the grave".

Critical Remarks:

      Frost often deals with the barrier between human beings and their immediate natural world. The Hill Wife has five lyrics which together provide a miniature drama in five moods instead of acts. The inner Iyric vision and the outer narrative contemplation are combined with poetic subtlety. A lonely woman' s increasing sense of fear, isolation and marital estrangement is represented as being so completely misunderstood by her husband that he is baffled at her sudden disappearance. However, the poem does not present a clear understanding of her motive.

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