Frost and Nature Robert Frost’s use of nature on its own of the most misinterpreted element of his poetry. Frost regularly stated, “I am not a nature poet. There is almost always a person in my poems. ” In the majority of Frost’s poems he uses nature imagery. His grasp and understanding of natural fact is well documented throughout his poems. But Frost is not trying to tell us how nature works. His poems are about the human mind. His attitude is impassive, honest and accepting.
In Frost’s poems he uses nature as a background often his poems begin with an observation of something in nature and then he will moves towards a connection to a human situation or concern. Despite the fact he treasured natural beauty, Frost accepted the tough truths of the natural world. Frost uses nature as a metaphor. He will suggestively describe elements of the natural world, but does not force his opinions on the reader, giving an opportunity to make their own connections.
Frost is not trying to tell nature stories or animal stories his poems always make perfect sense.
Sometimes the reader may not be reminded of the things that the poet was thinking when he wrote the poem however Frost hopes the reader is close. Frost uses sensitivity and care while writing. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening observes just how hard life has become for man to stay in touch with nature. This poem is made up of comparative images of the natural and the man-made; the woods and the villages, the farmhouse and the lake, even the horse and the harness-bells. The speaker is heightened with the descriptions of nature, however is constantly reminded of human surroundings.
The speaker in this poem is heightened with nature however has decided with regret that his return to nature cannot last as he has “promises to keep” and regardless of what these promises are they have to be fulfilled. In this poem humankind is represented not just by the object but by the concept of ownership. The first two words in this poem focus mainly on the absent character about whom we only know two things about: that he lives in the village, and away from nature and that he is the owner of the woods. The speaker feels that the owner does not appreciate what he has, this establishes the poem’s mood.
One of the most striking things about this poem is that the human and the animal appear to exchange their morals. The horse is the one who is in a hurry, “He gives his harness bells a shake to ask if there is some mistake”. He doesn’t understand why they have stopped as it is not a place of business. Maybe if the speaker stopped at the farmhouse the horse would have understood why they stopped. It is the speaker (Human) who is able to put aside the idea of property and ownership and destination to appreciate the moment. The horse is impatient at the speaker relaxing.
This indicated to us that the horse has been brought into the human word, indicating the expensiveness of nature’s change to mankind’s uses. This is a brief unplanned visit with nature is all that is possible in this poem. Frost uses an excellent example of personification, he gives the horse personality. However the horse fails to find reason as to why the pause in the journey as there is no shelter. Frost uses nature as a metaphor in this poem, he says that the dark, deep woods are very much like the speakers state of mind and his struggle with everyday responsibilities.
Initially upon reading this poem it seems that the person in the poem is simply stopping to enjoy the beauty of the woods and its situation close to the village. They take in the sound of the snow falling and the winter winds. Although he is mesmerised by its beauty, there is always something else to prevent him from enjoying it fully. Often a regret of those is old age or on their death bed is that they did not take time to simply enjoy what was around them. The person in this poem is torn by the “promises to keep” and the beautiful quiet of the wood.
According to critic John T. Ogilvie “the world of the woods……, a world offering perfect quiet and solitude, exists side by side with the realization that there is another world”. Oglivie (1959) The theme throughout this poem is determination. The speaker in the poem is comfortable in the woods and would like to stay there. However, he realises he must press on and finish his responsibilities before he will be awarded with his final sleep. “After Apple Picking” is another poem that uses nature as a metaphor.
Within the poem I feel Frost intends to evoke a mood of hesitation and drowsiness as if the speaker is about to maybe fall off to sleep. According to Richard Gray After Apple Picking Frost once again hovers between “the daylight world of commonsense reality and the dream world of possibility”. Gray (1990) The speaker in the poem is someone who has worked very long and hard but is now on the verge of being overwhelmed by fatigue and the depth of his experience. This poem is filled with images drawn from the speakers experience with the rural world obviously the events he remembers all took place on the apple orchard farm.
The smell of the apples is universal and he can still hear the sounds of carts carrying the loads of apples into the barn. All the sensory images are pleasant however they have come distorted as if the pleasant dream could become a nightmare. The speaker finds that the large harvest he had wished for has become extreme. When he is on the edge of sleep he recalls not only the ripe apples picked but those that fell and were considered damaged. He is unsure of the nature of the sleep he is about to drop into whether it is an ordinary sleep, or more like death.
Richard Poirier even his theory where in actual fact the apple picker has been asked the whole time and is simply dreaming the whole episode. Poirier (1977) John J Conder believes that the apples bring to the mind of the reader the apples of the Garden of Eden which the eating thereof send man into sin and furthermore death. However Conder waves away the idea of the poem bringing about death and even judgment as merely taking the poem at face value. He believes the poem is about a man falling asleep but not sure what kind of sleep it is but doesn’t believe it is death.
Conder (1973) According to Richard Poirier he believes that Frost has borrowed the image of the ladder in the sky in order to talk about metaphor, in thinking about the aftermath or the future. However it must be noted that although the ladder points towards heaven simply climbing it will not get you there, what you do on the way is extremely important. Unlike his other poems the narrator in “After Apple Picking” claims possession of all the instruments in the poem “my ladder”. As previously mentioned Robert Frost is not a nature poet.
He uses nature as imagery. Throughout both poems he had demonstrated his referral to human psychology. In Stopping By Woods he describes the dark, deep woods though reading the poem in depth it is apparent that he is referring to the speakers state of mind. Also in After Apple Picking he is referring to apples as missed opportunities within his youth. Throughout reading both poems we now know Frost only refers to nature as a metaphor. Reference Brower. R (1963). The poetry of Robert frost: Constellations of Intention. New York: Oxford UP Conder, J.
T. (1973). After Apple Picking; Frost’s Troubled Sleep. University Press of Mississippi. Gray, R. (1990). American Poetry of the Twentieth Century. UK Limited, Longman Group. Ogilivie, J. T. (1959). Woods to stars: A pattern of Imagery in Roberts Frost’s Poetry. South Atlantic Quarterly. Poirier, R. (1977). From Robert Frost: The Work of Knowing. Oxford University Press. The Robert Frost Tutorial. 2012. The Robert Frost Tutorial. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www. frostfriends. org/tutorial. html. [Accessed 20 October 2012]
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