To understand the setting of the poem, one must first understand how grass was mowed in the time period in which the poem was written (1906). Grass was mostly mowed by hand using a scythe. The mowing was often done in the dew of the morning for better mowing. This left the grass wet, and it needed to be scattered for drying. The phrase turning the grass referred
to the scattering of the grass for drying.
In ³The Tuft of Flowers,² the speaker has gone out to turn the grass. Whoever did the mowing is already gone, for there are no signs of his presence. The speaker is alone. Then, a butterfly catches the speaker¹s attention, and leads his gaze to a tuft of flowers, which the mower chose to leave intact. The patch of beauty left by his fellow worker causes the speaker to feel that he is no longer alone. There is a sense of understanding between the speaker and the mower, because an appreciation of beauty unites them.
Frost uses peaceful images to relate the feeling of his poem. The setting is in a grassy field with a brook running through it. The tranquil feeling is added to by a silent butterfly, who searches for a flower upon which to land. In keeping with the peaceful surroundings, Frost speaks of a long scythe ³whispering to the ground,² and of hearing ³wakening birds around.² The speaker also listens for a whetstone ³on the breeze² to determine if there is anyone around, and finds a ³leaping tongue of bloom² beside the ³reedy...