Robert Frost's "Neither Out Far nor in Deep"

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Robert Frost once said that a poem “is at its best when it is a tantalizing vagueness.” Therefore, a well-written poem has the ability to engage its audience through its obscurity. “Neither Out Far Nor In Deep,” is an ideal example of this opinion. The poem proves to be thought provoking and engaging among students and scholars alike as research shows that there are variations in interpretation of the poem’s content. The basic image conjured in this poem illustrates a succession of people standing with their backs to the land looking out towards the sea, yet if closer examined, multiple scenarios unique to the reader can be debated, thus, warranting several readings.

True to Frost’s style, “Neither Out Far Nor In Deep” reads with a musical quality. The rhythm and the rhyme are like that of a siren’s song, compelling its audience to read and reread it again. The seemingly ordinary diction combined with the lyrical abab rhyme scheme, mesmerizes the reader. But upon multiple readings, the reader discovers a much deeper world beyond the/these musical qualities.

The ambiguity of the language Frost employs in “Neither Out Far Nor In Deep” adds to the mystery of the poem’s meaning. The utilization of words and metaphors weaves a significant meaning unique to the individual’s interpretation and is often one with which he or she can personally identify. In the poem, Frost juxtaposes the land and the sea. The key element falls with the gaze of the people. They have turned their backs on the land and gaze longingly out to sea. For each individual, the land and sea can represent any number of things as a result of Frost’s noncommittal phrasing. However, it does seem evident that the land represents the known and the sea, a portrayal of the unknown. By turning their backs towards the land, people are disregarding what they already know, and the reader senses that what humanity longs for is “out far” and “in deep.”

Another area of ambiguity for many readers...
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