A Comparative Analysis on Robert Frost’s Works

Table of Content

Mowing, Mending Walls, Fire and Ice, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, The Road not Taken and Birches; these are some of the most loved poems from the renowned poet Robert Frost. Over the years, Frost has been recognized as one of the brightest and finest poets of 20th century England. Many of his works have become popular subjects for review and analysis as they have been widely read throughout the decades. In studies concerning classic English poetry, Frost’s works always hold significant importance. These works represent who he was as an author and how he wanted to be remembered. Through the years, these poems have also become standards for good poetry. This discussion will analyze and explicate these poems in detail while carefully comparing and contrasting their themes and motifs utilized by the poet. Additionally, this discussion will try to determine whether there is indeed one consistent element among Frost’s works through an examination of these six aforementioned poems.

Nature: Trees

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Nature, specifically the presence of trees, has been a consistent element in Frost’s poems. In most of his works, Frost vividly recreates his vision of nature, forests, and trees that take the readers into a peculiar setting. In Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Frost sets the poem’s setting early on in the introduction where he brings the reader into the opening of a forest.

Whose woods these are, I think I know.

His house is located in the village.

He will not see me stopping here.

To watch his woods fill up with snow” – lines 1-4.

In these lines, Frost takes the reader into a forest that apparently caught the speaker’s interest. The speaker intended to stay for a while upon learning that the owner of the woods would be gone for quite some time. This poem is one of Frost’s simplest and easiest to understand. Although it appears plain, it tells the story of a man who intends to stay in the woods where he finds amazement and joy. In this poem, the forest is depicted as a haven that gives a person a sense of delight and belonging, as can be interpreted from the speaker’s second thoughts on whether or not to leave. As observed, Frost could have been close to nature himself. Such depictions only show his particular inclination and appreciation for nature, specifically forests and trees.

On the other hand, Birches” appears to hold a deeper meaning in its depiction of a birch tree. In this poem, the poet prefers the possibility that the birch trees have been bent due to children who rode and swung from them, rather than attributing it to ice storms.

When I see birches bend to the left and right,

Amidst the lines of straight and dark trees,

I like to think that some boy has been swinging them.

However, swinging does not cause them to bend down and remain in that position.

As ice storms do, the worst had come and gone, leaving broken branches in its wake. The sun shone bright on the glistening ice, creating a beautiful yet treacherous landscape.” -lines 1-5 (Frost 157)

The speaker’s concern for the birch trees is apparent in these lines. He prefers to believe that the trees were bent by children unintentionally rather than by ice storms, which can be one of mother nature’s worst disasters. Frost speaks simply and succinctly in this work, much like the previous poem. There are no profound or incomprehensible words that would complicate what the author is trying to convey: his love and care for birch trees. However, unlike the first one, this has a more negative emotional tone. It seems to speak about failure and misery. People also bend at times like the birch trees do – either because of something that may be fun at some point but would cost them a lot later on or something natural like aging and death. Nevertheless, as previously mentioned, it is still clear that such a depiction reflects the author’s innate fascination and amusement with trees and nature.

Aside from the poems themselves, The Road Not Taken” also includes symbols and elements related to the author’s fascination with nature, particularly forests and trees. The speaker in this poem recounts a story of choosing between two identical paths in the woods. Both were covered with dry leaves and branches, but one was less traveled.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth.

And both of them lay equally that morning.

In the leaves, no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

I shall tell this with a sigh.

Somewhere, ages and ages hence,

Two roads diverged in a wood and I,

I took the one less traveled by…” (Frost, qtd. in Parini 17)

Compared to the two aforementioned works, this poem does not actually iterate on the poet’s fascination and liking of nature or trees. Rather, it focuses on the poet’s wish that he could have taken the road less traveled in the woods. However, it is still interesting to note that the poet used a forest setting again as the main backdrop for this work. When talking about roads, a poet could have easily chosen a busy crossroad in a metropolitan area. Instead, he stuck to his trademark of featuring a forest setting in his poems regardless of whether or not nature was actually central to his message.

Apart from this, Frost’s poems Mowing” and “Mending Wall” also feature elements of nature. In “Mowing,” the presence of nature is obvious as the poet describes a machine trimming grass under the scorching sun. While compared to the three aforementioned poems, only a few elements associated with nature are mentioned in this work such as the sun, flowers, and a green snake. Similarly, “Mending Wall” is not central to the concept of nature; however, it is set in an environment with several natural elements such as rabbits, apple trees, woods and hills. Like in “Mowing,” this poem does not directly address the ideal of nature but its setting is evidently close to it.

If all five of these poems are centered around or at least related to elements in nature, which is already a trademark of Robert Frost, the last poem, Fire and Ice,” does not seem to mention or relate to any natural element. However, upon deeper interpretation, the poet’s inclination towards nature can still be seen in this one as it talks about the two possible natural ends of the world – either by fire or ice.

Robert Frost’s poems often depict nature as a reflection of life’s realities. Falling leaves, for example, can symbolize failure, while blooming flowers represent new beginnings. A bent tree may signify aging or death. Frost’s affinity for nature is evident throughout his works, and it seems that a part of him speaks in the same way that nature does.

Self-knowledge is the understanding of one’s own character, abilities, and limitations. It involves introspection and reflection on one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Self-knowledge is essential for personal growth and development as it allows individuals to identify areas for improvement and make positive changes in their lives. It also helps individuals to better understand their emotions and reactions to different situations, which can lead to more effective communication with others. Developing self-knowledge requires honesty with oneself and a willingness to confront uncomfortable truths about oneself.

Aside from the consistent theme of nature, Robert Frost consistently utilized the ideal of self-knowledge. Nature was a prevalent theme in his works, and he often associated it with the concept of self-realization and learning. Frost frequently depicted the process of learning through natural means or those brought forth by nature. For instance, he tells the story of a child who learns about the effects of snowstorms on birch trees. Frost writes:

Often, you must have seen them.

On a sunny winter morning, loaded with ice.

After rain, they click upon themselves.

As the breeze rises and turns many-colored,

As the heat causes their enamel to crack and craze,

Soon, the sun’s warmth causes them to shed crystal shells.

Shattering and avalanching on the snow crust” – lines 5-10.

In these lines, the child learned how the birches bent after a snowstorm. Through successive observations, the narrator was able to determine that birches can bend due to this natural phenomenon, not just from children riding them. In this scene, learning and knowledge are acquired through a natural occurrence. The narrator gains knowledge by immersing himself in nature.

On the other hand, much like what was shown in Birches,” the speaker in “The Road Not Taken” also presents a form of self-learning. In this poem, the narrator analyzes the signs and elements on the two diverging paths in the forest to understand why one was less taken compared to the other.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could to where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then the other one, just as fair, was taken.

And perhaps having the better claim.

Because it was grassy and had water nearby,

However, regarding that matter, the journey through that place.

They had really worn them about the same.

And both of them lay equally that morning.

In leaves no step had trodden black.” – lines 1, 6-12.

The learning portrayed in the poem is simplistic, as the speaker understands why the more traveled road is safer due to its grassier path and greater number of footsteps. What’s amusing is that the author encourages critical thinking in his readers, who join the speaker in thinking critically.

Aside from the aforementioned poems, Frost’s fascination with humans’ ability to learn on their own is also exemplified in another poem. Mending Wall” features a speaker who, like in the previous poems, attempts to understand his neighbor’s beliefs and point of view regarding the idea that walls make good neighbors. The characters in this poem hold opposing views on the function and importance of the fence.

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.

That sends the frozen ground swell under it…

If I could plant an idea in his mind:

Why do they make good neighbors? Isn’t it?

Where are the cows? But there are no cows here,” – lines 1-2, 29-31

Self-learning occurs in this poem as the narrator evaluates his neighbor’s sense and reasoning. In a place where there are no cows or other animals to fence, what good will a wall do but keep neighbors apart? This is another interesting depiction of self-learning, but this poem has a more emotional attack.

Mowing, much like the poems discussed earlier, portrays a similar kind of learning. This has something to do with the significance of labor. The narrator realizes this ideal by contemplating what the sound of the mower may imply. Although Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening and Fire and Ice depict a concept of realization, they are not as close to self-learning as depicted in the four poems discussed earlier. However, in a way, these two still relate to the rest since they involve the narrator’s thoughts on how it processes ideals and elements around him and some realizations.


All six of Frost’s poems hold an interestingly comprehensible form of language, perhaps due to the relatable messages they convey to readers. Each work tells a true-to-life story that people may easily encounter every day. Therefore, despite some profound words, readers can engage and relate to Frost’s works effortlessly. Upon analyzing his works, it becomes clear that the author tends to associate a particular theme or symbol in many of his pieces. This implies that Frost has a strong devotion and passion for these elements and motifs, which are evident in his works as outlets for such advocacies.

Although the poems differ in rhythm and pattern, Frost’s identity as a poet is apparent in each piece of literature because he consistently incorporates elements of nature and self-learning ideals into his writing. This consistency strengthens Frost’s identity and uniqueness in his craft, making him one of the most beloved poets of his generation.

Reflection Page

Poems are interesting pieces of literature that enable poets to express their thoughts and feelings in either a subtle or straightforward way. As I read through Robert Frost’s six poems, I realized that poems are honest reflections of the world, people, and individual experiences. Frost has made a name for himself in the industry by staying true to his style, which is easily comprehensible for readers. He avoids using big and profound words and instead focuses on simplicity to engage as many readers as possible, making his messages easy to understand. Frost’s passion towards nature and learning is evident throughout his works, which serve as reminders of how important these themes are in life.

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A Comparative Analysis on Robert Frost’s Works. (2016, Sep 08). Retrieved from


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