Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Track - Directive - Robert Frost Poem Analysis


Robert Frost

Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,
There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.
The road there, if you'll let a guide direct you
Who only has at heart your getting lost,
May seem as if it should have been a quarry—
Great monolithic knees the former town
Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered.
And there's a story in a book about it:
Besides the wear of iron wagon wheels
The ledges show lines ruled southeast-northwest,
The chisel work of an enormous Glacier
That braced his feet against the Arctic Pole.
You must not mind a certain coolness from him
Still said to haunt this side of Panther Mountain.
Nor need you mind the serial ordeal
Of being watched from forty cellar holes
As if by eye pairs out of forty firkins.
As for the woods' excitement over you
That sends light rustle rushes to their leaves,
Charge that to upstart inexperience.
Where were they all not twenty years ago?
They think too much of having shaded out
A few old pecker-fretted apple trees.
Make yourself up a cheering song of how
Someone's road home from work this once was,
Who may be just ahead of you on foot
Or creaking with a buggy load of grain.
The height of the adventure is the height
Of country where two village cultures faded
Into each other. Both of them are lost.
And if you're lost enough to find yourself
By now, pull in your ladder road behind you
And put a sign up CLOSED to all but me.
Then make yourself at home. The only field
Now left's no bigger than a harness gall.
First there's the children's house of make-believe,
Some shattered dishes underneath a pine,
The playthings in the playhouse of the children.
Weep for what little things could make them glad.
Then for the house that is no more a house,
But only a belilaced cellar hole,
Now slowly closing like a dent in dough.
This was no playhouse but a house in earnest.
Your destination and your destiny's
A brook that was the water of the house,
Cold as a spring as yet so near its source,
Too lofty and original to rage.
(We know the valley streams that when aroused
Will leave their tatters hung on barb and thorn.)
I have kept hidden in the instep arch
Of an old cedar at the waterside
A broken drinking goblet like the Grail
Under a spell so the wrong ones can't find it,
So can't get saved, as Saint Mark says they mustn't.
(I stole the goblet from the children's playhouse.)
Here are your waters and your watering place.
Drink and be whole again beyond confusion.

Poem Analysis

            “Directive,” one of Robert Frost’s most famous poems, explores the poets past as well as his future. The name of this poem, “Directive,” describes the message of the poem well, but it also leads the reader to believe the poem has a tangible result, which it doesn’t. Frost uses three techniques to lead the reader on a journey.

            Throughout the poem, there is a lot of what John Keats called “negative capability.” This is a very hard concept to grasp. Negative capability is being content and comfortable with uncertainties. It accepts the fact the life is full of half knowledge and issues that can’t be resolved. This is a hard idea for mathematical people to understand. This is spread throughout the poem in many different lines. For example, “There is a house that is no more a house / Upon a farm that is no more farm / And in a town that is no more a town.” These lines are very abstract, and it is hard for the reader to wrap her head around it, which makes it negative capability. This makes the poem harder to understand, but once the reader gets past it, the poem is easy to love. It also makes the journey that Frost takes the reader on more abstract as well. He writes about tasks that the reader has to complete in order to get to the finish, but these tasks are very specific and abstract, and it is because of the negative capability.

            Another technique that Frost uses is his free verse form. There are no stanza’s or line breaks. It is just line after line, which can make it hard to follow at some points, but it also gives the poem a different feel to it. Frost’s style is different than other poets, and it is what makes the poem so good. When the reader reads this poem, it is a continuous story, and this makes the poem all feel like one story. It is all part of the same idea.

            The third technique that Frost incorporates into his poem is his varied word choice. He uses many different interesting words in order to create vivid images that will stick with the reader throughout the entire poem. A couple of lines that include these words would be, “A few old pecker-fretted apple trees,” and “Some shattered dishes underneath a pine.” These phrases make it so the reader can visually experience what Frost is trying to say.

            Frost is an incredible poet who uses these three techniques, among others to leave the reader with a new outlook on life. This poem, “Directive,” is a metaphorical journey, as well as a true journey. It takes the reader into Frost’s past, but it is also a journey into the place where everyone wants to exist, a “special place.” Overall, Frost is able to make the reader feel as if they have experienced something new and only an experienced, wise poet can do that. 

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