The Wood-Pile by Robert Frost || Summary and Analysis

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The Wood-Pile

Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day,
I paused and said, "I will turn back from here.
No, I will go on farther -- and we shall see."
The hard snow held me, save where now and then
One foot went through. The view was all in lines
Straight up and down of tall slim trees
Too much alike to mark or name a place by
So as to say for certain I was here
Or somewhere else: I was just far from home.
A small bird flew before me. He was careful
To put a tree between us when he lighted,
And say no word to tell me who he was
Who was so foolish as to think what he thought.
He thought that I was after him for a feather --
The white one in his tail; like one who takes
Everything said as personal to himself.
One flight out sideways would have undeceived him.
And then there was a pile of wood for which
I forgot him and let his little fear
Carry him off the way I might have gone,
Without so much as wishing him good-night.
He went behind it to make his last stand.
It was a cord of maple, cut and split
And piled -- and measured, four by four by eight.
And not another like it could I see.
No runner tracks in this year's snow looped near it.
And it was older sure than this year's cutting,
Or even last year's or the year's before.
The wood was gray and the bark warping off it
And the pile somewhat sunken. Clematis
Had wound strings round and round it like a bundle.
What held it though on one side was a tree
Still growing, and on one a stake and prop,
These latter about to fall. I thought that only
Someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks
Could so forget his handiwork on which
He spent himself, the labor of his ax,
And leave it there far from a useful fireplace
To warm the frozen swamp as best it could
With the slow smokeless burning of decay.

Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day, I paused and said, "I will turn back from here. No, I will go on farther -- and we shall see." The hard snow held me, save where now and then
The Wood-Pile

Summary and Analysis

Introduction:

      The Wood-Pile from North of Boston shows Frost in a Wordsworthian light. Aramble through the countryside is seen to be a means of spiritual instruction. Spritual implications are illustrated throughout the entire poem. The poet bring out the essence of countryside rituals in a very sophisticated manner.

Summary:

      Frost finds a wood-pile on his stroll in the forest. "It was a cord of maple, cut and split..." abandoned to the processes of Nature. Now comes a man on the scene, carelessly confident, ready to forget the results of heavy work and willing to turn to something fresh, leaving the wood-pile "to warm the frozen swamp" with the "slow smokeless burning of decay". The wood is not completely useless - it disintegrates into the soil making it rich for further growth. And man realizes the significance of the natural cycle and his own dependernce on it.

Critical Appreciation:

      The poem 'The Wood-Pile' shows the vivid results of observation. But the Spirit which Wordsworth found pervasive in Nature and in Man is not what Frost finds. In Frost's poem, Man and Nature are distinct and different from one another. The wood-pile (carefully cut and staked) symbolises man's creativity. Its decay warms the frozen swamp just as a fire in a hearth.

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