Facets and Features in Robert Frost's Poetic art

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      Frost is A Poet who Gives Equal Importance to the Form and Content of a Poem: It was his staunch belief that the meaning of the poem and its full import should unfold itself naturally and gradually. As he used to say "the poem must ride on its own melting like a piece of ice on a hot stove". He has written in his prefatory essay, The Figure a Poem Makes, that the poem itself creates the figures by means of the pleasure it generates in the minds of the readers. There is a dynamic ecstasy in poetry. A poem achieves its balance towards the closing lines and a "complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the words". Not one of those modernists who go in for eccentricities of formlessness in poems, Frost always aims at the appropriate verbal form and shape. Thus his poems are usually flawless in technique.

A poem achieves its balance towards the closing lines and a "complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the words". Not one of those modernists who go in for eccentricities of formlessness in poems, Frost always aims at the appropriate verbal form and shape. Thus his poems are usually flawless in technique.
Robert Frost

      A Frost Poem Evolves Before the Reader's Eyes and Ears: Physical objects are seen to be changing into symbols which provide clues to the deeper meaning of the poem. A poem by Frost moves from sight to in sight from the seen to the unseen. Two Tramps in Mud Time, West-Running Brook The Star-Splitter, Design, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening - all these and many others are examples of the typical Frostian technique of story growth from tentative enquiry through speculation to ultimate equilibrium. Two Tramps in Mud Time begins with two tramps intruding upon the solitude of the wood-chopper. Problems of self-control, common good, love and need, avocation and vocation are speculated upon, till the poem ends on a note of fresh self-awareness that avocation and vocation, love and need should be combined.

      Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening begins tentatively - note the words I think in the opening line. The speaker watches the woods filling up with snow, the frozen lake, and the darkness of the evening. Through a mysterious process, he reaches the conclusion that he has promises to keep and must not lose himself in the woods.

      Movement from Sight to Insight Marks a Frost Poem: In Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, the scene observed by the traveller assumes an unseen mysterious aspect. The poem, one realizes, refers to the bafflement of man in the face of the mystery of the universe.

      The Expansion of an Episode: As explained by J.E. Lynen, the present moment in a Frost poem is the eternal Time - all the moments of the future; a particular place or location represents the human situation everywhere in the world: a specific episode, an event that can happen at any time, place or society. A specialist in synecdoche, Frost has successfully achieved extension and expansion of meaning. Birches illuminates the present moment with a reference to the poet's past "So was I once myself a swinger of birches"; then the future is projected, the poet wishes to go back to that pastime. It ends with "One could do worse than be a swinger of birches" The meaning of life is explored. Mowing moves in a typical manner. It begins with a fact and a question - a scythe whispering to the ground, and "What was it whispered" ? The theme develops by a process of commenting upon this question and giving provisional answers to it". The resolution is reached through a series of oblique and evasive approaches which could not, however, have ended up anywhere else -

The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows...

      Structural Pattern Integral to Theme: As seen from the above illustrations, theme and structural pattern in a Frost poem are intertwined. As C. Day Lewis remarks, "the basic design of a Frost poem is a kind of argument or dialectic not imposed on the subject but worked out in consultation with it".

      Recurring Employment of Symbols to Convey the Implied Sense Fits into this Structural Pattern perfected by Frost. Symbolic imagery in the poems Design, Come In, etc., contributes much to the development of the meaning desired to be conveyed. The last stanza of the poem Come In is worth noting:

But no, I was out for stars:
I would not come in.
I meant not even if asked,
And I hadn't been.

      Conclusion: Almost all the poems of Robert Frost invariably conclude with an epigrammatic, aphoristic and moralistic utterance. Together with an expanding range of awareness these epigrammatic sayings make all the poems achieve a lively fruition. Thus a structural pattern is something integral to Frost's poems. And basic to this structural pattern is the movement from the particular to the general, from sight to insight, to a fresh self-awareness and meaning.

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