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Wall of Out
Robert Frost is one of the most popular and beloved of 20th-century American poets. His writings are of the character, people, and landscape of New England. Throughout his life while supporting his family, he suffered many financial and personal tragedies that contributed to his poetry. His poetry often has symbolic, metaphysical significance that is concerned with human tragedy, the complexity of life, and acceptance of personal burdens. ?Mending Wall? and ?Out, Out-? are poems of Robert Frost that exemplify this significance. After discussing both poems, I will also discuss Robert Frost?s use of theme, tone, and style.
?Mending Wall? is about two neighbors who make repairs on a wall that has been damaged by hunters. While one of the neighbors ponders why they must have a wall, the other neighbor is stuck with the notion that ?Good fences make good neighbors? (Robert Frost, Mending Wall l. 27,45). But is this all the poem has to offer? ?Mending Wall? has a greater symbolic meaning. The wall itself symbolizes a grudge that one person has for another. One neighbor is the good spirit while the other is the dark disposition. The repeated meeting to repair the fence symbolizes an effort to make amends, but when the wall is rebuilt, it is as if the quarrel is unsolved. The wall gives opportunity to communicate when it is down, but communication is once again cut off when it is built up again. The lines ?Something there is that doesn?t love a wall, That want it down.? I
could say ?Elves to him, But it?s not elves exactly, and I?d rather He said it for himself? (Robert Frost, ?Mending Wall? l. 34-38) asks the question ?what is it that keeps this grudge between us even though we both want it gone?? The neighbor is imagined as ?an oldstone savage? (Robert Frost, ?Mending Wall? l. 40) meaning he is too hard headed or barbaric to come to reason. In Frost?s own essay, ?Education of Poetry,? he writes, ?Poetry provides the one permissible way of saying one thing and meaning another.?
?Out, Out-? could be thought of as a poem about an arbitrary death of a young boy that could have been easily avoided or a Freudian ?slip? of the boy losing his hand. As when the boy?s hand is severed, his ?first outcry is a rueful laugh.? (Robert Frost, ?Out, Out-? l. 19). From the line ?The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard.? (Robert Frost, Out, Out-? l. 1), Robert Frost personifies the buzz-saw as a animal or beast. The boy and the saw appear to be separate from the serenity of the life around them. This life being the ?Five mountain ranges one behind the other under the sunset far into Vermont? (Robert Frost, ?Out, Out-? l. 5,6). The boy and the saw are like one mindless machine that continues to work with a mechanical indifference to the signs that the days work is done. The speaker makes a plead: ?Call it a day, I wish they might have said to please the boy by giving him the half hour that a boy counts so much when saved from work? (Robert Frost, ?Out, Out-? l. 10,11,12). From these lines, Frost points out the perversion of working a boy all day as if a slave. The boy?s life is one of productivity, and when he dies, he is ?No more to build on there.? (Robert Frost, ?Out, Out-? l. 33). The reader could see this poem as a warning to society about the mental oppression of child labor.
Robert Frost?s themes are universal and attractive to the average reader. They offer the reader affirmative resolutions to conflicts in relation to those in Frost?s own life. Readers find comfort and encouragement in his themes.
Tone is used by Frost to communicate the emphasis of the poem. His use of tone helps the reader in understanding the poem. The tone he uses incorporates the use of reflection, sarcasm, and irony. Much of his language is spoken with a vocabulary that is natural and has a familiar texture.
The style that Frost uses is plain, direct, and conversational. It is simple on the surface but holds a depth of obscurity that is deceptively mysterious. He has a great understanding of meter and form using imagery and metaphor to set his works apart from other poetry. He allows the reader to ponder questions that require them to look to their morals for the answers. ?Mending Wall? demonstrates Frost?s command of lyrical verse, dramatic conversation and ironic commentary. It is written in blank verse with a varying meter.
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