Frost's Place In Poetic Traditions Essay

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Dawn HollandJohn LoweryENG 42522 October 2014Frost's Place in Poetic TraditionsAlfred Tennyson (1809-1892) and Robert Frost (1874-1963) were both poets from different literary eras. Tennyson wrote with more of a Modernist perspective, while Frost wrote from a decidedly Romantic perspective. This being the case, both writers had shared characteristics which belonged to the other school of thought. Tennyson's "Break, Break, Break" (1834) and Frost's "Desert Places" (1936) are fitting examples of the crossing and intermingling of poetic literary canons, and the sharing of certain characteristics.Tennyson's poem "Break, Break, Break" (1834) is a poem which depicts one man's grief at the loss of a loved one. This is a 16 line poem, separated into 4 stanzas, written more in the Modernist genre. The Modernist aspects include using words as symbols rather than literally. The following line "And the stately ships go on" (Tennyson, 1834) is representative of how life continues in spite of loss. Then there is writing as one would speak with another as opposed to how one would read "And I would that my tongue could utter The thoughts that arise in me" (Tennyson, 1834). One must also add the use of loss or exile as themes "But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand, And the sound of a voice that is still!" (Tennyson, 1834). Other literary elements found within this poem are apostrophe when the speaker addresses the sea directly "BREAK, break, break, On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!" (Tennyson, 1834), alliteration "…boat on the bay…day that is dead" (Tennyson, 1834), enjambment "And the stately ships go on To their haven under the hill" (Tennyson, 1834), and onomatopoeia "…break…shouts…sings" (Tennyson, 1834). All these elements combined speak towards the Romantic elements of individualism and faith in the inner experience.Frost's poem "Desert Places" (1936) is a poem about one man's feeling of isolation and loneliness. This is also a 4 stanza, 16 line poem, but is written more in the genre of Romanticism. The elements of Romanticism include how the emotional aspect of nature is applicable to the individual (Kreis, 2000) "The loneliness includes me unawares" (Frost, 1936). Another aspect lies in the uniqueness of the individual self "I have it in me…my own desert places" (Frost, 1936), which is also evidence of the self-knowledge each person has of themselves (Schwart, n.d.). Along with the aforementioned Romantic aspects, there are numerous examples of a Modernist tendency. For instance using words as symbols "A blanker whiteness…With no expression, nothing to express" (Frost, 1936) provides the snow with human attributes; writing as one would really think "They cannot scare me with their empty spaces" (Frost, 1936). Then there is also the use of isolation as a theme "All animals are smothered in their lairs…on stars where no human race is" (Frost, 1936). Other literary devices would...

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