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The Theme Of Human Relationships In Robert Frost’s Poetry

3212 words - 13 pages

Often called the most popular American poet of the twentieth century, Robert Frost achieved a worldwide reputation as a major poet early in his career. He and his family spent three years in England, where he published his first two collections of poetry, A Boy’s Will and North of Boston. Initially uncertain about the reception he would receive in the United States, he returned to New England in 1915 to find that his poetry had gained massive popularity among Americans. Frost’s poetry continues to claim a place in the hearts of today’s readers. If asked to name a poet, many would name Robert Frost. Elementary school children learn “The Road Not Taken” and “Mending Wall”. Frost’s poetry earned and keeps its popularity due to its appeal to a wide range of readers. Even those who don’t often read poetry can find something to enjoy. At first glance, Frost writes simply about nature, but beneath the beautiful imagery lays deeper meaning. Frost uses nature to convey his messages, some of which reflect the ideas of the earlier Romantic writers, such as the love of nature and the distrust of industry. While Robert Frost expresses beliefs shared by writers of the Romantic Period, he also describes his own ideas about love, death, and interpersonal relationships.
Robert Frost, like the Romantics of the nineteenth century, believes in the importance of the imagination. Living in a time of invention and advancement, he appreciates the necessity of creativity to human civilization. Imagination offers a change from the dull, monotonous labor of a factory worker or rural farmer. Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” describes the chore of repairing a broken wall. Two neighbors share the work between them, but one “seizes the particular occasion of mending as fuel for the imagination and therefore as a release from the dull ritual of work” (Lentricchia 243), while the other finds himself repressed by the tedium of the annual chore. The speaker of the poem imagines elves sneaking about, destroying the wall, and pretends that he and his neighbor use magic to balance the unstable stones. He finds amusement in what would otherwise be nothing more than mundane physical labor. Frost’s depiction of the neighbor suggests “the play spirit of imagination . . . distinguishes the civilized man from his cave-dwelling ancestor” (Lentricchia 243). The neighbor clings to tradition, believing that his actions and his words must mirror those of his predecessors. The speaker sees beyond the conventional and views his neighbor as “an old-stone savage armed” (Frost “Mending Wall”40). His imagination allows him to recognize the fallacy in the neighbor’s cliché that “[g]ood fences make good neighbors” (Frost “Mending Wall” 27). He understands that they have no need for a wall; they maintain the wall simply because their fathers before them did. The speaker’s imagination enlightens him to the truth his neighbor cannot see. Additionally, imagination can soften harsh realities. Seeing trees...

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