ENG208W: Studies in Poetry
Frost’s Metaphoric use of the Natural World in Poetry
Born in San Francisco in the spring of 1874, Robert Frost is considered to be amongst, if not solely, the greatest poets in American history. Around age eleven, Frost moved to New England where the majority of his poetic inspiration is presumably drawn from. Although he never managed to obtain a collegiate degree, he did attend both Dartmouth and Harvard, two of the countries most prestigious universities. Publishing his first poem entitled “My Butterfly” in 1894, Frost began his career as a poet just as the modernist literature movement of the early twentieth century was gaining traction in the United States. Although Frost did not break from poetic convention as radically as some of his peers in the modernist movement, he is nevertheless considered a modernist poet in part due to the use of the New England vernacular that is present in the majority of his poetry. Another influence on Frost’s work as a poet comes from New England as well; this is the influence of growing up in New England’s natural landscape and the life he led on a farm there. Frost’s love for the natural and tendency towards including it in his writing is possibly the most distinguishable constant in his work. The following quote best describes this constant in his work, “As Frost portrays him, man might be alone in an ultimately indifferent universe, but he may nevertheless look to the natural world for metaphors of his own condition.” (The Poetry Foundation). The purpose of this paper will be to explore the some of the pieces in which Frost’s use of nature as a metaphor or simile for the human condition, as well as identifying the theme that the human race is alone in the vast universe where it occurs.
Perhaps the best example of this recurring theme and Frosts use of nature as a metaphor can be found in his poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay.” In this...