Earthward

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Frost begins the poem’s first stanza with the lines “Love at the lips was touch/As sweet as I could bear”. With this opening phrase Frost shows that youthful love is consumed with simple kissing and the simple art of kissing is like a sweet. This was so sweet that he could scarcely bear it. Frost uses the alliterative words “love” and “lips” to emphasize the image of kissing without using the word “kiss”. The last two lines of the quatrain are “And once that seemed too much; I lived on air.” With these lines, Frost creates the image that as wonderfully sweet as kisses were, the narrator didn’t need sweets to feel the person’s love because all that was needed was air. This would give the association that just breathing the same air as one’s lover is just as sweet.

In the second stanza, Frost asks a question, as if the narrator needs reminders of the smells that were in the air at the time. He recalls the smells of musk and honeysuckle as well as the dew that shakes off when flowers are picked for one’s lover in the morning. The images of flowers, dew, and sweets portray the youth of the narrator and the desires of young lovers as well as their inexperienced forays into romance.

In the next three to four stanzas, Frost takes a darker turn. Frost uses words and phrases that indicate that the love did not stay as sweet as it once was. Phrases that indicate this are “petals of the rose…stung”, “dashed with pain”, “no joy”, “weariness”, and “fault”. While none of these phrases elaborate on events that happened, the words are loaded with negative and bitter connotations. Normally one would indicate thorns would sting on a rose, but in this case the petals stung. This paradoxical phrase would indicate the horrific contrast between someone that could be so sweet could also be so wickedly hurtful. The results were only pain and fault, which would be bitterness. If this period of bitterness represents most of adult life, it would indicate that the narrator...
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