Robert Frost was an American poet, that often wrote about rural life in New England. It must be noted that he was honored frequently during his lifetime and nominated for the Nobel prize in Literature thirty-one times. Frost was both praised and criticized for his style of writing. During a time when poetry was moving toward modern poetry, he maintained his own style. He has also been recognized as a distinguished American poet of the twentieth century. This analysis will look at three poems by Frost, “The Road Not Taken”, “Fire and Ice”, and “Mending Wall”.
“The Road Not Taken” appears to be a simple poem, using a poetic rhythm and metaphors. The speaker in the poem reaches a point where a choice must be made as to the path he will take. The speaker cannot choose both so he examines each with the knowledge he can only choose one and can never go back and take the other. He then chooses the road less traveled. If one looks at the entire poem, it would appear that the speaker is referring to choosing one’s path in life. When reaching a point where choices have to be made, one has to think about all variables and make a decision. By taking the less traveled road, the speaker decided it made the difference. In an article written by Terry L. Andrews, he stated “Nevertheless, for such a seemingly simple poem, it has been the subject to very different interpretations of how the speaker feels about his situation and how the reader is to view the reader” (Andrews). In “Robert Frost: A Biography by Lawrence Roger Thompson and R. H. Winnick, Robert Frost commented that The Road Not Taken is “a tricky poem, very tricky” (Andrews).
With the poem “Fire and Ice”, Frost seems to be talking about the end of the world, while agreeing either would be suitable. With the use of words like desire and hate, he is adding behavior into the poem, and “one feels the breadth of human smallness, the pathetic girth of opinion” (Wormser 416). As the poem ends with “And would suffice” one can see that “Frost holds the largest situation in his sights and concedes nothing” (Wormser 416). A person can also easily look further into the underlying meaning of the poem to include not only the literal comparison of fire to ice, but also to include the comparison of desire and hate. With this, Frosts’ use of metaphors changes a seemingly simple poem into a thought-provoking poem.
The last poem is “Mending Wall” and while longer, it uses the same style as the others. On the surface, it appears to be a simple poem about a wall and two neighbors, but when one looks closely the poem changes to a philosophical discussion. Once a year, two neighbors meet and repair the wall between their properties. The speaker talks as if there is no need for the wall, however, “he is clearly ambivalent about its presence, since he also initiates the repair” (Ruby 230) and the neighbor, more adamant about the need for the wall, accepts the wall as a way of life using his father’s words, “Good fences make good neighbors”. The poem uses the wall to describe the relationship between people, the boundaries set, and how you deal with those boundaries. Poetry for Students Vol. 5, edited by Mary Ruby discusses various themes include things like alienation, loneliness, tradition, imagination and order. All are reasonable and subject to the readers view of the poem. Using Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall” to Teach Overcoming Barriers to Communication, agrees that “There is a clear psychological barrier to communication in these lines” (Sethi 47) using the poem to emphasize the relationship between peoples and the need to talk and understand the other.
The poems of Robert Frost are thought provoking. By the skillful use of metaphors and the simplicity of his writing, he challenges the reader to think about the poem and decide for themselves what the poem means to them. As a writer “Robert Frost chose to use languages that stayed close and true to the experience in his verses and he was successful in bringing the realm of poetry closed to the harsh realities of life” (Su 1372). These are a few examples of poems that Frost has used with a clear aim to give us as readers a deeper understanding of the contemplations of nature and humans through his eyes. The analysis of these three poems by Frost, “The Road Not Taken”, “Fire and Ice”, and “Mending Wall” use imagery that is capable for all readers to relate to, symbols that connect a reader to real life, and themes that create a realistic understanding of the issues discussed.