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Literature Sheet 2  
Robert Frost said, “Poetry begins in delight and ends wisdom.” Explain and discuss this remark in the light of any two poems of Frost.


What does Frost mean when he says, “Poetry begins in delight and ends in wisdom,” Discuss any two poems of Frost in the light of this remark.
(Introduction – Para 1 and 2 of Answer -1)

Frost has offered a good many definitions of poetry. These are opinions reluctantly expressed by him. He had no relish for the role of a critic. Most of his opinions about poetry are fragmentary. Stimulating as they are, these opinions provide no solid, coherent view of poetry. He once said, “A poem is a momentary stay against confusion.” “Another such opinion of Frost is. “A poem is the emotion of having a though while the reader waits a little anxiously for the success of down.” These remarks of Frost do not provide anything solid to build on. His views can only be pieced together.

Perhaps the most well known statement of Frost is that “poetry begins in delight and ends in wisdom.” The remark has been variously interpreted. The remark should not be taken as a stating a theory of poetry. It is not a definition of poetry. It describes the mood or emotion in which poetry begins and tells us that the mood matures into something profound.

It is clear from this remark of Frost that he thinks that poetry is not only and end in itself but a means to an end. The word wisdom is not to be taken in a strict sense as ‘moral instruction.’ Frost is not re-phrasing Horace’s well known statement about poetry aiming of ‘instruction and delight’. What Frost suggests in this remark is balance of sensibility and substance, of emotion and thought, of airiness and weight’ so to say.

This is clear when one keeps Frost’s own poems in mind. They do not end with any ‘wise’ conclusions or moral formulations. Some of his best known poems “stopping by woods on a snowy evening”,or “Birches” for example, begin with an expression of delight or approval or at least enjoyment. The poem them ends not with any moral lesson or precept, but with a serious perception. The poem thus become some kind of “clarification of life” or a clarification of the attitude of life.”

Take “STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING” The Frost two stanzas frankly express the poet’s fascination for the beauty of the snow filled landscape. “The woods are lovely, dark and deep.” It is the poet’s appreciation of the beauty of the seene which makes him stop there so that his ‘little horse’ thinks it queer/To stop without a farm house near. He would like to stay on and enjoy the lovely prospect. But he cannot because he has ‘promises to keep.’

And miles to go before I sleep. Thus the poem which begins with an expression of poet’s response to the claim and attraction of beauty, ends with a serious statement. Duty or the task to be performed has to be given preference over enjoyment.
A similar thing can be seen happening in “Birches.” The poem begins with a statement of what the poet likes to think ------- he sees “Birches bend to the left and right/Across the lines of straighter darker trees.” The poet describes with loving care the trees “trailing their leaves on the ground like girls on hands and knees. That throw their hair/Before them over their hands to dry in the sun.” this shows again the poet’s joy in the beauty of the trees, their curving branches, their trailing leaves. He says he would like to imagine that some boys has been climbing them constantly and has given them this shape. The he says he wish once himself a swinger of braches” “and would like to be one again. He tells with coloures/Broken across it, and one eye is weeping/From a ting’s having lasped across it open” he “would like to get away from earth a while.” But not permanently. He would like to “come back to it and begin over.” His reason is “earth is the right place for love.”
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