“One is the Loneliest Number” or “Does Zero Count?” Abandonment and Singularity in Robert Frost’s “The Census- Taker”
Robert Frost’s approach to human isolation is always an interesting exploration. His poem of desertion and neglect paired with eternal hopefulness ignite the reader in his poem “The Census-Taker.” All of the elements of a Frost poem are in this particular poem. “The Census-Taker” must be from an earlier time in Frost’s career because the poem is written in an open, free verse similar to the style of his earlier 20th century poetry like “Mending Wall” and “After Apple-Picking.” Also, the language lacks the sophisticated word selection a reader of poetry might find in Wallace Stevens and instead uses simplicity to elaborate the story. As Frost matures, his poetry becomes more structured in an identifiable, categorical style with systematic stanzas and perfectly paired couplets. Some verses in “The Census-Taker” carry unstressed and stressed syllables, which echo the seemingly similar attempt in “The Wood Pile” at flawed iambic pentameter. In addition, Frost places himself in the poem, as the sharp first person narrative, simply passing through a nearby wood to perform his job duties. The poem is cognitive. My favorite element of Frost poetry that he purports in “The Census-Taker” is his use of the chiasmus. Something there is in Robert Frost that does love a chiasmus, mainly those designed to teach a moral point. Specifically, however, the poem revolves around the actions of the census-taker. It is an autumn evening in New England. He intrudes a poorly kept, abandoned home where there is no one to intrude on. Paradoxically, he attempts to count the people who are not there. The census-taker realizes after many hours that this house is the only evidence of civilization for many miles surrounded by cliffs. The windy evening meets the neglected, dilapidated home only to shake creaky walls. At one point, the census-taker feels compelled to scoop an...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document