Craftsmanship of Robert Frost's Poetry

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      Robert Frost is a very conscious artist of crafting poetry. His poetry has often been praised for some qualities. Frost is very good at choosing apt words - both from the point of view of meaning and from the point of view of sound. The quality of reticence that is inherent in Frost's poetry makes him use minimal words with utmost effect. The epigrammatic terseness of Frost's poetry has often been praised by critics. Mark Van Doren says: "Frost knows how to say a great deal in a short space. Just as the many men and women, whom he has listened to in New England and elsewhere, have known how to express in the few words they use more truth than volumes of ordinary rhetoric can express.

The epigrammatic terseness of Frost's poetry has often been praised by critics. Mark Van Doren says: "Frost knows how to say a great deal in a short space. Just as the many men and women, whom he has listened to in New England and elsewhere, have known how to express in the few words they use more truth than volumes of ordinary rhetoric can express.
Robert Frost

      The first and the most obvious quality of Frost's poetry is simplicity "of thought and clarity of expression. Lawrance Thompson points out that Frost's poetry is very much akin to that of Wordsworth. "Like Wordsworth...Frost has particularly emphasized his concern for catching within the lines of his poems, the rhythms, cadences and tones of human speech. He uses a simple, colloquial diction, which is, however purified in the manner of Wordsworth, of all that is slangy, coarse and vulgar".

      Frost's apparent simplicity is very deceptive. Like all art, it involves sifting, selecting and ordering of material in the quest of perfection. "His poems are remarkably flawless as far as technique goes; there are few cracks either in rhythm or verbal texture". The simple texture of his verse has within it layers of meaning. His imagery, drawn from common and familiar objects of nature, achieves new dimensions as it is used symbolically; hence the richness of the texture of his poetry. Frost's simple language is, in fact, highly suggestive.

      Frost wrote the natural colloquial language of New Englanders - he wanted to capture all the nuances, inflections and intonations of their language. Mark Van Doren feels that Frost, builds into his verse the conversational tones of the New Englanders, Corvelin Weygandt says: "All rural New England shares a laconic speech, a picturesqueness of phrase, stiffness of lip, a quizzicality of attitude, a twistiness of approach to though but there is a New Hampshire slant to all these qualities, and that you find in the verse of Frost".

      In Frost's poetry, generally the speech-syntax is loose. Frost's poetry is punctuated by parentheses, pauses, breaks, ellipse, unfinished sentences, halting measures, sudden ejaculations, repetitions, abrupt beginnings and sometimes sudden ends. For all these uncommon breakups, there is a psychological ground. Short, personal lyrics are generally smooth and direct - flowing from the poet's heart to the reader's mind.

      Frost has, then, two styles Frost's conversational language is tinted with regional flavour and tone. There is nothing regional or dialectic about Frost's vocabulary. "The regional quality of his diction is seen not in the choice of words, but in their arrangement. It is seen in his phrasing and idiom" - but it is not phrasing alone that is responsible for the peculiar, regional quality of Frost's diction. The effect is that of regionalism also because Frost's idiom and phraseology grow out from the meaning and emotion which the poem conveys. The meaning is "reflected in, and symbolised by, the details of language". In Fire and lce, Lynen feels that "the colloquial phrasing does not negate the poem's bitterness. Quite the opposite; it is the means of raising it to an extreme pitch. The more the speaker's manner disclaims strong feelings, the more powerful his feelings seem.

      Frost had the rare ability of maintaining a strong, regular cadence and yet making the lines appear loose and un-patterned. "The looseness can be traced to the many spondees and clusters of unaccented syllables, which break up the metre again and again, without ever displacing it. It is not displaced because the variations, though numerous, are balanced by frequent reiteration of the metre in perfect lines. Syllable count as wells strictly observed". His talking rhythms result from a close balancing of looseness and flexibility with regularity, reiteration and tightness".

      As an artist, Frost is a great experimenter. Frost is a very conscious metrical artist - a dabbler in stanzaic forms and verse forms. But Frost lacks the adventurous spirit of an innovator. He has proved his skil in adapting different traditional metres to his own use. He has written odes, eclogues, satires, dramatic monologues, dialogues and masques. Frost has employed metres as different as ballad metre, sonnet variants, terza rima, heroic couplets, blank verse and some other forms. Elizabeth Jennings admires his skill. "Frost's verse is formal, even at times, stately; its movements are often easily anticipated. Yet, despite this, his technique is so flexible, his handling of language and cadence so careful and delicate that he is able to give his most elegant poems the air of spontaneity". Yvor Winters on the other hand is critical of Frost's handling of blank verse. He says that it is inept, undistinguished and monotonous. Elizabeth Jennings admires Frost's skill in handling blank verse ".Frost employs blank verse and it is amazing how flexible he makes this medium seem"

      Frost is a great artist. His poetry embodies the living speech of men and women. His poems are alive. Other poets write about people, his poetry is the people themselves.

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