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Literature Sheet 3  
Frost calls poetry “A metaphor, saying one thing and meaning another, saying one thing in terms of another.” Examine the poems of frost that you have read in the light of this statement.
Use of symbols in the poetry of Frost
Symbolism in the poetry of Frost.

(Introduction – Para 1,2 and 3 of Answer -1)

Though Frost was no a critic in the sense of having a systematic and apparently well thought-out theory of poetry, he expressed a good many opinions about poetry in his long poetic career. Most of these were reluctantly expressed and are fragmentary in nature. However, Frost once declared that of all his definitions of poetry the chief was that ‘it is a metaphor, saying one thing and meaning another, saying one thing in terms on another…’ He kept coming back on the need for “doubleness” in poetry.

Like all major poets Frost writes one multiple levels of meaning. Through out his poems he employs symbolism and metaphor to achieves his ends. He communicates indirectly as well as directly. For him poetry was not only an end in itself but also a means to an end – the end of making each poem some kind of “clarification of life” or a “clarification of attitude of life.” All his poems come from a sort of central metaphor. Some times a poem is an entire analogy.

Frost’s use of symbols is very different from that of T.S.Eliot. Eliot in a poem will leap at the secondary meanings of his symbols. His symbols lie in the open where the reader’s attention is forced to them. Frost’s best lyrics rest on a blending of thought and amotion and symbolic imagery within the confines of the lyric. Frost weaves his symbols into a surface fabric of solidly intelligible texture. The surface by itself is completely satisfactory and coherent that the symbols are hidden and yet easily perceived.
Frost’s symbols are not private, esoteric, or “frail and foreign wonders” like the “golden bird”, Byzanteum or Tiresias. Frost use the familiar images and acts of life as symbols. He finds them full of meaning, suggestion and analogy. Take for example a poem like MENDING WALL. This well known poem of Frost is a completely characteristic of his use of symbols. Frost there is the surfact texture of the poem. The stone wall separating the land of the two farmers gets broken and needs regular mending. One can see the drama of the two farmers mending it jointly. And as they do sok they talk to each other. What can be more natural than this. A stone wall as a symbol of separation is as old a symbol as perhaps poetry itself. Yet, as Frost’s poem proceeds the wall is not simply that. It becomes the symbol of an attitude of mind, a habit of thought. It becomes a symbol of the attitude of one who “will not go behind his father’s saying” i.e. tradition and convention. He will not question them. He will not like to ask why, where and when “good fences make good neighbours.” The well thus becomes a symbols of yet ways and habits which are the barriers that devide men. One can see why Frost read this poem to his Russian audience on his visit to Moscow.

The same perfect art can bee seen in another of Frost’s very famous poems, STOPPING BY WOODS ON A SNOWY EVENING. What can be more naturally beautiful that a landscape filling up with snow? “The woods are lovely, dark and deep.” He, therefore, stops his carriage to watch them “fill up with snow.” It is fascination how in this poem of only sixteen lines the dark wood take on a colour of mystery and promise and almost mesmerize the traveller with their enchantment. They become a symbol of fear and desire, though the poet resists their enticement because he ‘has promises to keep’ and ‘miles to go before I sleep.’

Another example of Frost’s use of symbol in his poem AFTER APPLE PICKING. The apple crop remains a palpable reality. And yet it becomes a symbol of man’s inability to gather all the riches of nature.
There’s a barrel that I didn’t fill beside it, and there may be two or three apples I didn’t pick upon some bough. The same thing happens with the farmer’s sleept. At one level it is the natural falling off into drowiness, sleep and dream of the end of a very tiring day for the farmer. However, the reference to autumn, the close of the day and existence suggest that it is something more. The farmer himself is not sure whether ‘This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is “is” just some human sleep’ or something else. “were he not gone/The woodchuck could say” what it was. Then one sees the significance of the farmer’s ladder mentioned as the beginning “sticking through a tree/Toward heaven still.”
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