Robert Frost Sample Essay: A Young Audience


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As a young person, I feel suitably qualified to address this question. Frost's poetry contains much which would appeal to a young audience. His choice of subject matter is as relevant to us today as it was when it was written. The way he expresses his ideas is fresh and different, it is original. That is exactly what appeals to a younger audience.

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A Frost poem, like many a young person, is a complex entity… just ask any parent! What may appear simple on the surface turns out to have hidden depth. “Tuft of flowers” and “Mending Wall” are perfect examples of this.

“Tuft of flowers” is a nature poem celebrating the beauty of a field, flowers and a brook. It is very atmospheric, the reader can’t help but feel exposed to the glowingly warming sunlight of the endless field. However, the poem is a lot deeper. It isn’t only good for making us, urban dwellers, engage with the beauty of nature. The major themes examined here are loneliness and isolation, all too familiar to the young audience. At the beginning the poet feels alone:

“And I must be, as he had been – alone,
“As all must be”, I said within my heart,

“Whether they work together or apart.”

But the butterfly, having lead the poet to discover a beautiful tuft of flowers, like a fire, made him rethink that. He then understood that we are all interconnected, that although there wasn’t any persona message in leaving the flowers there, there are people in the world that think the same way as him. Thus, the poet concludes:

“Men work together,” I told him from the heart,
“Whether they work together or apart.”

In “Mending Wall” the same theme is examined from a different angle. The notion of a wall separating people is explored. What is particularly attractive to young people is that the poet questions tradition here.

He asks: “Why do they {good fences} make good neighbours? Isn’t it where there are cows?” The poet attempts to think it through, to decide who is right, much like a youthful mind faced with a choice. He comes to a conclusion that his neighbour “moves in darkness”. But what is even more important that he doesn’t insist as he must respect his neighbour’s position regardless of what he thinks himself. “I’d rather he said it for himself”. This teaches young people that they should question the notions that stem from the past but to not be insistent that other people change their views.

Another wonderful lesson is presented to a young audience is “The Road not Taken”. This poem teaches is that choices must be made and how to relate to them after there is no way back.

“I took the one less travelled by,
And that made all the difference.”

This is obviously positive. The poet describes just how doubtful he was, how complicated it was to chose. The mood is one of regret and there is a sequence of contradiction in the poem. At first the poet admits that he took the less travelled road: “it was grassy and wanted wear," then he decides that they were really the same in that regard: “the passing there had worn them really about the same.” In the end, in the last few lines of the poem he returns to his original opinion. I think that his shows that the poet is still unsure, he is regretful one minute but the next he decides that he was right… This is what all of us have done and because to young people this can be somewhat new and daunting, this poem helps one to understand the matter much better.

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In “Out, out-” the poet returns to the theme of isolation. Their devotion to hard work isn’t portrayed as a positive trait. The poet by contrasting the “buzz saw snarling and rattling” and the “five mountain ranges… under the sunset far into Vermont,” condemns them of not being able to appreciate the beauty of nature.

This poem seems to be very cold and harsh. It is especially valuable to young people as it depicts the harsh reality without hiding anything. The pleading victims request is “answered” by a short, and yet, even more effective, “So.” It is hard to decide on the correct interpretation of this, but certainly there is hardly any warmth to it. The callous nature of the depicted relationship between the boy and the rest of the family is emphasised by the fact that the boy, having just been tragically injured, is being looked after by a… “watcher!”
It peaks, of course, in the last two lines:

“No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.”

This is very sobering. But this also carries an important message – life does on – and, therefore, may be interpreted positively. This kind of depth of analysis, strength of opinion and variety of angles can provided a great template for dealing with a tough situation for inexperienced youth or at least something upon which to reflect.

So from the point of view of themes there is an enormous amount that can be learnt by a young reader. But this isn’t the sole merit of Frost’s poetry from a young audience’s point of view.

The way he writes is also amazing. His syntax and onomatopoeia in “Out, out-” are invaluable to that poem. But in “Provide, provide” the rhyming pattern aaabbbccc, etc and the simple iambic rhythm attributes some kind of nursery rhyme quality to it. How young an audience are we talking about, I wonder? In any case, it is a hint at the fact that what is being discussed in that poem is so vitally important that it should be taught to little kids! The dark humour of the poem, however, returns us to the thought of how truly poignant is the fall of this lady, Abishag, depicted in the first verse. The cynical comment about having people who were paid to attend your funeral is probably the strongest image in this sequence:

"Better to go down dignified
With boughten friendship at your side

Than none at all."

“Mending Wall” is also saturated with striking imagery and is satirical rather than cynical. The wall is destroyed by frost, a well known fact, but the poet makes a subtle pun of his name. This attributes a very personal and honest touch to the poem. The activity that he and his neighbour are busy with is compared to “another kind of outdoor game, one on a side.” This introduces a sharp contrast between the wall – an embodiment of isolation and a game, a symbol of interaction in this case, thus, emphasising the significance of the wall. There is a humorous touch in the lines:

“My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines”.

The humour helps the young reader engage with the poem.

So, even though Frost died in 1963 at the ripe age of 89, his themes are eternal and universal, his style original and even captivating – thereby retaining a strong appeal for a young audience.

...A question on Frost's poetry is a good choice. The quotes are simple. The main themes aren't particularly difficult but there will always be enough to write about.

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