English 1317: Introduction to Literature
February 13, 2013
Expression Through Experience: The Impact of Writers Lives Through Poetry
Poetry comes in various styles, writings, languages, and elements, but it is not just the literature that is different: the poets have their own unique way to write and express themselves through poems. From the 1600s’ to the present, poetry and literature as a whole has changed greatly based on the experiences and events that have taken place in the lives of writers. Like many other people in this world, they have witnessed death, tragedy, heartbreak, and loss of hope, which inspired their writings and changing the world of literature. Because of this, many people can relate to these poems because of similar experiences and can reflect on their perspectives and compare their ideals to the poets that express their thoughts in their work. People like Robert Frost, William Shakespeare, and Matthew Arnold, all unique poets, have made connections to their lives and invested their time into writing poems to express their ideas and feelings to relate to people everywhere.
Robert Frost was an American poet during the Naturalism period. This period lasted from the end of the nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. During this period there was brutality of human live and of nature as well (Alba). According to Josh Rahn, “The dominant theme of Naturalist literature is that persons are fated to whatever station in life their heredity, environment, and social conditions prepare them for.” This implies that people’s lives would be dependent on their own experiences like where and how they lived, who they were and their status in society. Rahn would also relate the Naturalist period to be “the logical growth of literary Realism” (Rahn). The Naturalist writers of this time did not include religion in their literature, and does not expect the world to change, whether their perspectives about it are good or bad. At the same time of the Naturalist period, the Progressive Era took place. This is a time where America was starting to be acknowledged as a powerful nation in the world, but internally, the nation was suffering. This was the time leading into World War I and right before the Roaring Twenties and then the Great Depression, which were all unexpected and rapid events occurring right after another.
Robert Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874 and moved to the New England area at the age of eleven. Frost married Elinor Miriam White, who was his main inspiration for many of his poetry before her death in 1938 (Academy of American Poets). He was also inspired by British poets during that time like: Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves (Academy of American Poets). Much of Frost’s work that he wrote described the area and landscape of New England, one of which is “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”
The title, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” already gives a general idea of what the poem is describing in which the narrator is in the woods while it is snowing. What makes this poem so interesting is its many interpretations, its different perspectives and its eerie setting that is portrayed. As Frost describes the cold, snow-filled evening through intricate imagery (describing the New England winter nights), a question of why the narrator stops in the woods arises. He admired the dark, snowy, woods a lot which would imply that he enjoyed living in the North New England area and that he often looked around and took notice of his surroundings. Also, many would like to interpret the last two lines of the poem, “And miles to go before I sleep,” in various ways. It is emphasized by its repeated two lines in the last stanza and based on his personal life it could be metaphorical to after losing his wife that he must continue to live. It is hard to tell why Robert Frost wrote this poem, because of the vagueness of the poem. Maybe it was about Frost...
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