Explication of Robert Frost's Mowing

Topics: Sonnet, Poetry, Rhyme Pages: 2 (724 words) Published: April 19, 2011
There was never a sound beside the wood but one,A
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.B
What was it it whispered? I knew not well myself;C
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,Aextra syllable Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound—B
And that was why it whispered and did not speak.Dextra s. / emphasis It was no dream of the gift of idle hours,Eemphasis
Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf:Cemphasis
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weakD
To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows,F
Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowersE
(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake.G
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.Femphasis My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make.Gemphasis  
Robert Frost

The speaker of the poem is the mower himself. It cannot be determined from the sonnet whether or not the speaker is actually male or female. His age is also undetermined, but we can assume that he is at least young enough to wield a scythe. After long periods of time, a scythe can easily fatigue someone, so I envision a man who is no older than fifty at the most. He has a high level awareness for nature and also believes in the poetry of nature. He does not seem to be addressing anyone in particular. It’s possible that he is only speaking to himself.

My response to the speaker is neither positive nor negative since he is performing a neutral action of “mowing.” If there are negative aspects to this errand that he is doing then it is not made apparent in the sonnet. A scythe is no longer commonly used to do mowing so this places the reader in a certain time period. It is difficult to say, but this might also place us in Europe since the scythe is still used in some places today.

Reading the poem aloud helps emphasize the “silence” that Frost is trying to convey in his sonnet. The continuous pulse of “s” sounds is...
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