Last Updated 18 Jun 2020

Eulogy -Robert Frost

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Robert Frost Robert Frost once debated whether the world ended in fire, or ice. It is a sad thought that the world will end without him; that the future generations will be privy to such events made for people like Robert. He was an inspirational, American poet who questioned the very core of our beliefs, he chose paths that few had took, and that is why today he is remembered today. Robert Frost was born in San Francisco on March 26, 1874.

His family moved to New England when he was eleven; he became interested in reading and writing poetry during his high school years in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He earned his formal degree at the arguably the most prestigious University, Harvard. He later worked through various occupations, ranging from teacher to editor of the Lawrence Sentinel. His first professional poem, “My Butterfly”, was published on November 8, 1894, in The Independent newspaper.

In a 1970 review of The Poetry of Robert Frost, the poet Daniel Hoffman describes Frost's early work as "the Puritan ethic turned astonishingly lyrical and enabled to say out loud the sources of its own delight in the world," and comments on Frost's career as The American Bard: "He became a national celebrity, our nearly official Poet Laureate, and a great performer in the tradition of that earlier master of the literary vernacular, Mark Twain. " About Frost, President John F. Kennedy said, "He has bequeathed his nation a body of imperishable verse from which Americans will forever gain joy and understanding. Though his work is predominantly associated with the life and scenery of New England, and though he was a poet of traditional verse forms and metrics who remained unfalteringly detached from the poetic movements and fashions of his time, Frost is anything but a merely regional or minor poet. The author of searching and often dark meditations on universal themes he is essentially a modern poet who spoke truthfully in all that encompasses, his work inspired psychological battles inside ourselves, his works were fused with layers of obscurity and irony.

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Robert Frost lived and taught for many years in Massachusetts and Vermont, and died in Boston on January 29, 1963. Two poems that debatably epitomize what Robert Frost stood for, what he believed in, how he opened the minds of many people to what is; These two poems are ‘fire and ice’, and ‘the road not taken’. The short poem ‘fire and ice’, outlines the familiar question about the destiny of the end of world, wondering if it is more likely to be devastated by fire or ice. People are on both sides of the debate, and Frost introduces the narrator to provide his personal take on the question of the end of the world.

The narrator first determines that the world must end in fire after bearing in mind his personal experiences with desire and passion, the emotions of fire. Yet, after considering his experience with “ice,” or hatred, the narrator acknowledges that ice would be equally destructive. A reading will now be done of the poem: Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I've tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice.

Only nine lines, this miniature poem is a vivid example of Frost’s concisely ironic literary style. The poem varies between two meter lengths (either eight syllables or four syllables) and uses three collections of interwoven rhymes, based on “-ire,” “-ice,” and “-ate. ” In the first two lines of the poem, Frost creates a clear dichotomy between fire and ice and the two groups of people that believe in each element. By using the term “some” instead of “I” or “an individual,” Frost emphasizes that the distinction between the two elements is a universal truth, not just an idea promoted by an individual.

In addition to the unavoidable contradiction between fire and ice, these first lines also outline the prerogative that the world will end as a direct result of one of these elements. It is made unclear which element will lead to the destruction of the world, but it is noteworthy to know that these are the only two options given. The poem does not allow for any other possibilities in terms of the world’s fate, just as there are not any other opinions allowed in the black-and-white debate between fire and ice.

Remarkably, the two prospects for the world’s destruction correspond directly to a common scientific debate during the time Frost wrote the poem. Much like this poem, scientists also debated the eventual end to the Earth, on one side; some believed the Earth will be destroyed by the burning magma core, incinerating the Earth to nothing, while others believed that a new Ice Age would wither all livings things on the earth’s surface. Instead of preserving a strictly scientific perspective on this debate, Frost introduces a more emotional side, associating passionate desire with fire and hatred with ice.

Within this metaphorical view of the two elements, the “world” can be recognized as a metaphor for and consequently foregrounding to the audience, a relationship. Too much fire and passion can quickly consume a relationship, while cold indifference and hate can be equally destructive Although the first two lines of the poem insist that there can only be a single choice between fire and ice, the narrator further details that a combination or a concurring sequence of both elements would destroy the Earth.

Furthermore, the fact that he has had personal experience with both (in the form of desire and hate) reveals that fire and ice are not mutually exclusive, as the first two lines of the poem assert. In fact, though the narrator first concludes that the world will end in fire, he ultimately admits that the world could just as easily end in ice; fire and ice, it seems, are strikingly similar. This further highlights what Frost believes in relationships. That, although a concentration of one emotion, passion or hatred can be destructive he poses that one cannot be without both of them existing.

The second poem analysed will be ‘The road not taken’. The narrator comes upon a fork in the road while walking through a yellow wood. He considers both paths and concludes that each one is equally well-travelled and appealing. After choosing a path, the narrator when he will come back to the fork to choose the different path, he later realises this will possibly never happen but that he will only come to new forks (new decisions), his mind then ponders on how different his life would have been if he chose the different path, a reading will now be done.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same, And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference. This poem is made up of four stanzas of five lines, each with a rhyme scheme of ABAAB. This poem is one of Frost’s most adored works and is used many times in English studies. Since its publication, many readers have analysed the poem as a nostalgic observation on life choices. The narrator decided to seize the day and express himself as an individual by choosing the road that was “less travelled by. As a result of this decision, the narrator claims that his life was essentially different, that it would have been had he chosen the well-travelled path. This reading of the poem is tremendously popular because every reader can commiserate with the narrator’s decision: having to choose between two paths without having any knowledge of where each road will lead. Moreover, the narrator’s decision to choose the “less travelled” path demonstrates his courage. Rather than taking the safe path that others have travelled, the narrator prefers to make his own way in the world.

However, when we look closer at the text of the poem, it becomes clear that such an idealistic analysis is largely inaccurate. The narrator only distinguishes the paths from one another after he has already selected one and travelled many years through life. When he first comes upon the fork in the road, the paths are described as being fundamentally identical. In terms of beauty, both paths are equally “fair,” and the overall “…passing there / Had worn them really about the same. ” It is only as an old man that the narrator looks back on his life and decides to place such importance on this particular decision in his life.

During the first three stanzas, the narrator shows no sense of remorse for his decision nor might any acknowledgement that such a decision be important to his life. Yet, as an old man, the narrator attempts to give a sense of order to his past and perhaps explain why certain things happened to him. Of course, the excuse that he took the road “less travelled by” is false, but the narrator still clings to this decision as a defining moment of his life, not only because of the path that he chose but because he had to make a choice in the first place.

So now, we will remember American poet, Robert Frost for his ingenious input into such universal truths and how such knowledge can be extracted from his points of view. He is now gone from this Earth, but let us remember him, for his works, for inspiring us to take the road less taken when we come to our own cross roads, to temper our relationships with fire and ice. With these works, dear Robert has left us with enough knowledge and understanding to replace the hole that he has made.

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