Aesthetic Quality In "The Design" By Robert Frost

1501 words - 6 pages

Aesthetic quality is the most important characteristic of a poem. Poetry is an art form, and as painters use colours and techniques to define their works, a poet uses language. Symbolism, metaphors, and knowledge of past works, are the ingredients in which all forms of art are comprised. No matter what form art chooses it will leave a lasting impression on those considering it. In the case of the poet, the author must paint a picture in our minds, with the intention that we may question, remember, and appreciate, the beauty of what the poem is trying to say. An excellent example of aesthetic quality in a poem would be that of Robert Frost's Design. This Poem encompasses various forms of aesthetic dimensions, from the selection of colours in the poem, to the choice of words. Frost explores the age-old enigma of fate, while rhythmically drawing the reader in, obliging them to take notice and ponder the questions he is purposing. Robert Frost is a master of the metaphor, and after reading Design for the first time, I was compelled to examine the poem for a deeper meaning.

The First question I found myself asking, was in response to Frost's use (or lack) of colours in the Poem. In most cases colour adds beauty to a poem. Did Frost attempt purposely to completely remove this aspect? If so, does it make the poem more memorable to the reader because he did? This is an important question to ask due to the fact that Frost chose white as the key colour of his poem. White is not usually considered a colour, and by removing colour from the spider, (an insect which is normally considered as black or red), the moth, (which can be white on occasion), and the heal-all, (a flower that is normally considered blue or violet) Frost gives incredible dimension to this poem, intentionally altering the perception of the images presented.

There are many answers as to why Frost chose the colour white as his key ingredient, and Frost being the metaphorical master that he was, gave everything ample meaning. The chances of a white spider, sitting on a white flower, carrying a white moth is very unique. This is perhaps the first indication of coincidence, or fate, which is interwoven throughout the poem.

Frost also chose the colour white to signify purity, and innocence. By accepting innocence, we are able to forgive the spider for it's station in life as a killer, and view the moth as a victim of life`s design (fate).

White can also signify death. When a person is deceased, the colour of their skin is a pale white. The dead moth is held up "like a white piece of rigid satin cloth"(Design, ln.3) Forcing the reader to look past the innocence of nature, and think of the rigid lining of a coffin. At first this line made me think of a wedding dress, being made of satin cloth, but the use of the word rigid, made me reconsider, Due to the fact that a corpse is rigid.

This connotation of death brings to light yet another possible use for the colour...

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