Robert Frost: Transformed the Shakespearean Sonnet and Made It His Own

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A multitude of nineteenth century American writers have aimed to master the art of the sonnet and achieve the staying power and meaning associated with the Shakespearean sonnet. One writer who was able to accomplish this feat was Robert Frost. However, in the case of poetry today, the definition of a true sonnet lies in the eyes of the beholder, for Robert Frost engaged great flexibility in the writing of his sonnets and stretched the form of Shakespearean sonnets new limits creating a unique style and form of his own. The following will display to what length Robert Frost deviates from the form of the Shakespearean sonnet in his poem "The Oven Bird":

THERE is a singer everyone has heard, a
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,a
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.b
He says that leaves are old and that for flowersc
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.b
He says the early petal-fall is pastd
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showersc
On sunny days a moment overcast;d
And comes that other fall we name the fall.e
He says the highway dust is over all.e
The bird would cease and be as other birdsf
But that he knows in singing not to sing.g
The question that he frames in all but wordsf
Is what to make of a diminished thing.g

The structure of the Shakespearean sonnet is traditionally comprised of 3 quatrains and a couplet with the rhyme scheme being abab cdcd efef gg. In doing this Shakespeare utilized a deliberate pattern and symmetry in the lines that he wrote. Conversely, Robert Frost is much more liberal in his idea of "pattern." A quick look at the rhyme scheme of "The Oven Bird" does leave the reader with the feeling that the rhyme scheme is sporadic in nature but analysis of the lines structurally and syntactically indicates a refined structure and linkage between all of his lines. He opens his poem with couplet aa followed by an unexpected bcb. These...
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