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Poetic And Pictorial Considerations For The Understanding Of Frost's Birches

1230 words - 5 pages

The first word that may appear into a reader's mind when dealing with Robert Frost's "Birches" is remembrance. Every picture in the poem supports the word: the child playing with the Birch, the swinging movements that goes back and forward, the snow painting the trees deeply white. "Birches" is an extremely pictorial poem. Its images are of a profound emotion.

There is a fact that can not be omitted: the year 1914, time in which the poem was written; World War I. Though that fact won't be taken much into consideration, so as to make the interpretation in a more personal approach, it is noticeable that by not leaving that year aside, the poem grows beautifully stronger; not only because the remembrance before mentioned takes a deep air of nostalgia, but because the complete image given by the poem also takes another connotation.

If a closer look is taken at the artists that were developing in that year, we find Chagall, Juan Gris and John Heartfield, father of the photomontage. These artists usually present in their works, images (sometimes agglomeration of them) that have to be represented by drawing a line between what is actually shown and what is subconsciously implied. With "Birches", Robert Frost proposes a different look when it comes to art. He is giving the focus of aesthetical contemplation back to nature. He is making his readers realize that the pictures he is portraying are due to his concentred observation of what takes him back to his childhood; what takes him out of the world of doom, and what is important, he is revealing those same figures through his poem.

If we take a glimpse to "Birches" metric structure, the iambic foot will show itself as the predominate one:

When I see Birches bend to left and right

Across the lines of straighter darker tress,

I like to think some boy's been swinging them.

That is especially important for this poem to be yawningly pictorial: the leaves, which are always downwards, are made sound; the shape of that bending tree is given away by this predominant foot.

Then, we find ourselves with several interventions of Trochaics. In search of an image, that represents the movements of the little boy going from one place to the other, but it may also mean that the persona does not want us to forget about the patent duality of the poem: Truth and Imagination; Childhood and Adulthood, the simple life and the complicated one. Looking at the first verse that introduces the trochaic foot:

Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them

It is noticeable that nature will always stand for itself. He is not needed so as to shape the nostalgic birches. Nature will do it by the ice-storm. Also, the word ice-storm changes the melody because it is a force, which even though paints nature with its characteristic colour, it also quite destructive for any one who has experienced it. In this case, the war makes itself predominant; it explains the presence of escapism and makes it...

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