AP Literature and Composition
25 September 2014
By utilizing and manipulating certain elements in a literary work such as imagery and syntax, an author manages to add emphasis and meaning to his/her work as a whole. These elements if used properly, will both convey the message the author wants to portray in his/her work, while maintaining to keep the attention of their readers. Robert Frost in “Nothing Gold Can Stay” (Frost, "Nothing Gold Can Stay"), and “Meeting and Passing” (Frost, Meeting and Passing) are only two examples of the many literary works that have successfully used imagery and syntax to take full advantage of the opportunities they create in a literary work. Imagery is a key element in both of these short poems that alter the way in which the reader ultimately perceives the work as a whole. Syntax in both of these short poems enhances its meanings and contributes towards its tone. Although these two short poems similarly use both imagery and syntax, they have distinct differences also because these elements are used in different ways to convey different messages. For instance, the use of imagery in Frost’s “Nothing Gold Can Stay” presents eight lines that emphasize the importance of nature in this short poem. Frost starts out by stating that nature’s first green is gold. By this he is referring to the season of spring, and how the trees resemble a golden shade of color before they mature. This can also be related to the sun rising and setting, and how this appears to be golden as well. “Green is the first mark of spring, the assurance of life; yet in fact the first flush of vegetation for the New England birch and the willow is not green but the haze of delicate gold. Hence green is a theory or sign of spring; gold is the fact” (Ferguson) Frost in later lines personifies nature to be that of a woman, thus mother nature, while also stating how hard it is to maintain this shade of golden color. He then metaphorically states how her early leaf is a flower, something that is precious yet delicate. However, this preciousness can only last for a short period of time, and the metaphorical leaf that is a flower, subsides or falls into being just a leaf once again. “It is a gentle replacement for an expected term of expansion or growth, and suggests a sigh of disappointment as leaf turns out to be not flower but more leaf--that is, as immature leaves are replaced by advancing ones. The fall of humanity in Eden came by such a process” (Marcus). Further lines relate this to the fall of man, when Eden sank to grief, and the balance of nature was broken in result of Eve and Adams actions. What resulted was sin, and the gold that represented balance and beauty faded away in a short time, just as spring vanishes quickly as the days and seasons pass by. The syntax in this short poem is verbally utilized to describe the verbal imagery taking place. Frost utilized quickness, decieveness and speed as he added to this text by using short phrases and short sentences. He was able to make his point by merely using a few sentences. The mood of the reader is affected by his use of such few words, which force the reader to contemplate these few sentences repeatedly until they come to focus on the big picture. Once they analyze “Nothing Gold Can Stay” (Frost) they most likely felt as though beauty and perfection last for only a short duration of time. The tone of the narrator seems to portray these same feelings, which ultimately provoked the reader to come to this conclusion in the first place.
Additionally, the use of imagery in “Meeting and Passing” by Robert Frost describes two people meeting for the first time. By using the imagery of the gate, we come to the conclusion that they are separated from one another, and this is further described as one of the two is coming up the hill. Suggesting that one of them is currently is at the bottom in a rough situation, while the other is at the top in a...
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