“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words,” Robert Frost once said. As is made fairly obvious by this quote, Frost was an adroit thinker. It seems like he spent much of his life thinking about the little things. He often pondered the meaning and symbolism of things he found in nature. Many readers find Robert Frost’s poems to be straightforward, yet his work contains deeper layers of complexity beneath the surface. These deeper layers of complexity can be clearly seen in his poems “ The Road Not Taken”, “Fire and Ice”, and “Birches”.
Robert Lee Frost was born on March 26, 1874 in San Francisco. When his father died, he moved to Massachusetts with his ...view middle of the document...
He was 88 years old.
The first of Frost’s poems that exemplifies the hidden layers of complexity behind its seemingly simple exterior is “The Road Not Taken.” The poem is, on the outside, about a man who approaches a fork in the road and must decide which one to take. The poem is not as simple as it seems, though. Literary critic Deirdre Fagan said, “The poem is celebrated at least partly because it can be easily reduced to an adage, but it is among Frost's best, most riveting, and most complex. It is an epic work in its ambiguity and seeming simplicity” (Bloom’s). It seems like the fork in the road symbolizes choices that must be made in life.
What is very interesting about this poem is that Frost establishes twice that the roads actually have similar wear and look to be equal. When the poem says, “Then took the other, as just as fair” and later “Though as for that the passing there/ Had worn them really about the same.” Frost is pointing out that in many choices, sometimes both options seem to be equal to the one making the decision. It is after the decision has been made that you are able to look back and see how it has affected your life, just as Frost says in the last line: “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Fagan said, “ In the end the difference appears to have nothing to do with which road is chosen, as each would have had an impact on the traveler's life.” Frost is teaching the lesson that it’s not important which choices you make; What is important is how these choices affect your life.
Next, “Fire and Ice” is another of Frost’s poems that is more complex than it seems at first glance. When first read, it’s about Frost’s thoughts on the world ending in either fire and ice. There seems to be a much deeper meaning behind this poem, though. Deirdre Fagan says, “Surely Frost is not just imaging an end to the world in general but rather seeing a broader scope of endings, not just through the extinction of the human race per se and all that is in nature, but through our own various endings on other levels—for example, in things closer to the human heart, such as relationships or love affairs. These too end either in fire (passion) or ice (cold detachment)” (Bloom’s). Frost may not be talking about the world actually ending in fire or ice; Rather, he may be talking about the personal feeling of humans.