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Robert Frost, perhaps the greatest American poet of the twentieth century, has brought himself great recognition. Many critics have tried to find a faulty side to his writing, but they have had a difficult time because his writing "romanticizes the rural simplicity that he loved while probing into the mysteries of the universe (Estep 2)." Three areas of criticism covered are: a speaker\'s decision in choosing, a poem broken down into three sections, and Frost\'s use of metaphors and style in his writing.
Born in San Francisco, but raised in New England, many of Robert Frost\'s poems are representations of his experiences in the northeastern parts of America. He was unsuccessful in college never earning his degree, and for several years he supported his family by tending to a farm his grandfather bought for him. In his spare time, Frost would read and write anything and everything. Discouraged by his unsuccessful life as a poet, he packed up his bags and moved to England. He continued writing and published his first two books of poetry, which would gain him the recognition in America he had been in search of (ExpLit 1).
One of Frost\'s most famous poems is "The Road Not Taken." This poem is about someone who comes to a fork in a path. One path is well beaten and treaded, while the other is less traveled and more difficult. Is the traveler happy with the decision he has made to take the road less traveled? Many critics think he may have had second thoughts.
Magill\'s Survey of American Literature states that there are many contradictions throughout the poem, "…He seems to contradict his own judgment. The poet appears to imply that the decision is based on evidence that is, or comes close to being an allusion" (Magill 64).The tone of the stanza and the title of the poem suggest that the traveler may be regretting his choice because by making a choice to do one thing you have to give up the opportunity to do another (Magill 74). "I kept the first for another day! I shall be telling this with a sigh."
Discovering Authors Modules agrees with other critics. "Is he truly happy with his choice?" The traveler doesn\'t ever directly say he was happy with his choice, so is he satisfied? In the poem it states, "…and that has made all the difference," but has it made all the difference in a positive way (DAM 2). "Frost also probes one of the great mysteries of life: the ability to choose and the consequences of choosing" (DAM 2).
The Literary Café also has similar ideas on the poem. After the traveler has chosen which path to follow, he still yearns to travel both paths, saying that he\'ll "keep the first for another day." But, then he realizes that there is no return to the other path and that the final decision has been made. At the end of the poem the traveler sighs, but is he sighing because he is satisfied with his decision or because he may regret something about choosing the path that he did (LitCaf 1).
Another famous poem by Robert Frost is "Birches." It is a poem about the way the branches on a birch tree bend in the winter. Many critics think the poem is divided into three basic parts.
"An Interpretation of Frost\'s Birches" thinks the three parts are the scientific explanation of the appearance of the birches, Frost\'s boyhood fantasy about their appearance, and his present day interpretation of their appearance. The first section is of the natural ways a branch would bend and crack because of weather. "Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning after a rain." The second is more of how the branches would bend because of a little boy swinging on them. "By riding them down over and over again until he took the stiffness out of them." Then in the third section Frost expresses how the tree reaches toward heaven and brings back memories of his childhood. "And climb back branches up a snow-white trunk Toward heaven."
Magill has also noticed the three sections but in a slightly different format, saying, "It can be separated into three almost equal parts: the observation and description of trees bent by winter
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Poetry, Literature, American poetry, Robert Frost, Birches, The Road Not Taken, Fire and Ice
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