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Literature Sheet 4  
Frost’s use of contrasts in his poems
OR
The dramatic quality of Frost’s poems
OR
Frost’s use of ‘monologue’ for dramatic purposes

(Introduction to answer 1, Para 1,2& 3)

FROST’s poetic mode has often been described as symbolic oditio after oritis has pointed out how Frost uses the common familiar images and acts of life as symbols through suggestions and analogy. Like all major poets written on multiple levels of meaning. He communicates both directly and indirectly. For him poetry was not only an end itself but also a means to and end the end of making each poem some king of ‘clarification of life’ or a ‘clarification of attitude to life.’

In during this Frost frequently uses a technique which is essentially dramatic in nature. Frost once remarked that ‘poetry begins in delight and ends in wisdom.’ The ‘wisdom’ is communicated not overtly in the mannder of the English new-classical poets of the ‘eighteen the century. It is generally an action or situation that is invested with deeper meaning. Often there are living, taking and acting characters which constitute the dramatic situation.

Frost’s poems are often built on contrast. It may a contrast between two attitudes to work as in ‘TWO TRAMPS IN MUD TIME’ It may be two opposite approaches to life as in meding wall. In both these poems human characters represents the contrasts. It is the action and interaction between them around which the poems are built. The characters do not simply engage in conversation. They are participants in actions for example splitting wood or mending a broken boundary wall. Their actions, which are the outcome of opposing attitudes, invest the poem with significant meaning.

The characters in Frost’s poems are not simply personifications of attitudes of mind. They are men in a setting and situation. The situation is as vividly and carefully described as the characters. There are the pine trees with the cones under then, and the apple orchard. The displaced boulders, some flat like loves ‘and some frozen ground – swell … spills the upper boulders in the sun.” it is also the work of hunters” who would have the out of hiding/To please the yelping dogs.” “And so the two farmers in mending wall meet on a day … to walk the line/And set the wall between us agained.” And as they do so one of them emerges as a traditionlist who “will not go behind his father’s saying” and ask why, where and when “good fences make good neighbours.” But the other one would ask to know/What I was walling in our walling out “before he builds a wall.”

In TWO TRAMPS IN MUD TIME a similar complete action will be found. There the speaker was splitting “good blocks of beech” on a day yearly in spring when “the seen was warm but the wind was chill.” The early spring setting is described in detail. The speaker was engaged in splitting logs as it gave him psychological relief. He was spending “on unimportant wood” “the blows that a life of self control/Spares to strike for common good.” And out of the wood came the “two hulking tramps” wondering every from some ‘lumber camps they wide him miss his aim by shouting cheerfully ‘Hit them land.’ The lumber jacks ‘thought all shopping was their of right’. They said nothing further. They just stood there. They knew they had only to do that ‘and their logic will fill my head.’ That he ‘had no right to play/With what was another man’s work for gain.’

“My right may be love but theirs was nee.”

So it will be seen that the best poems of Frost are essentially dramatic. A little thought shows that all drama-tragedy or comedy is built on contrast or opposites. Sometimes this contrast in Frost’s poems is not presented through characters and action but simply through situation. “stopping by woods on a Snowy Evening” is built on the contrast between the mystery and enchantment of woods that “ are lovely, dark and deep” and ‘promises’ that the speaker has to keep. In AFTER APPLE PIOKING there is the contrast between expectation and effort on the one hand, and achievement on the other. No one can gather all the riches of nature. There is still a barrel unfilled and still some apples unpicked. Both the kinds of dramatic poems of Frost are ‘monologues.’ In all of them there is a speaker. The speaker is not a narrator outside the situation or action. He is involved in it, a participant in it. In AFTER APPLE PICKING the apple farmer who tried to gather in all the crop who is talking to himself as he falls off into sleep. In ‘stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening’ it is the man who has ‘miles to go’ who is speaking about the enchantment of the dark woods.

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