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Robert Frost’s Mountain Interval

posted May 8, 2011, 6:51 AM by I Say You Say   [ updated May 8, 2011, 9:24 AM ]
Robert Frost’s Mountain Interval
Recommended by Jyh-huey (Sophia) Chen


       Mountain Interval, published in 1916, is a collection of poems written by American poet Robert Frost. The poems in the collection, concerned with human tragedies and fears, expound his reaction to the complexities of life and his ultimate acceptance of burdens. Poems like the ever famous “The Road Not Taken”, the eerie “An Old Man's Winter Night”, the imaginative “Birches” and the satirical “Out- Out”, make this volume highly sought after overnight.

      “The Road Not Taken” describes the process of an individual having to make a decision in life, not knowing at that moment if the decision will be the right one, and surely to second guess the decision sometime later. However, regardless of the decision, it is a decision made, which has played a part in what that individual is today. Frost’s assertion, "You have to be careful of that one; it's a tricky poem – very tricky," reveals that the poem should not be considered as an inspirational poem of encouraging self-reliance, not following where others have led. To a discerning eye, the poem seems not to moralize about choice, but simply to say that choice is inevitable. One never knows what his choice will mean until he has lived it.

      The poem “An Old Man's Winter Night” is a sad and haunting poem, clearly depicting an old man's empty life in the countryside. Frost's use of imagery allures readers to imagine how weary and boring an old man's life is. The sound devices are also effective. The line “The roar of trees, crack of branches and beating on the box” fully illustrates some of Frost's creative and vivid images. The sounds of winter, expansion and contraction of materials, inside and outside, create a powerful atmosphere that both repels and attracts you at the same time. This poem highlights
Frost's sensitivity to nature.

      “Birches” is a great example of standard Frost style and content. It discusses life and death, good and evil, and gives the reader a rich and deep feeling, without answering any of the questions it asks.

      “Out, Out-” is a satirical poem about a young boy who dies as a result of cutting his hand using a saw. This gives the reader a clear picture of this bizarre scenario because Frost utilizes imagery, personification, blank verse, and variation in sentence length to display various feelings and perceptions throughout the poem. Frost also makes a reference to Macbeth's speech in the play by Shakespeare called Macbeth which is somewhat parallel to the occurrences in "Out, Out-." Frost begins the poem by describing a young boy cutting some wood using a "buzz-saw." The setting is Vermont and the time is late afternoon. The sun is setting and the boy's sister calls him and the other workers to come for "Supper." As the boy hears its dinnertime, he gets excited and cuts his hand on accident.

      Readers usually associate Robert Frost with nature poets because of his love for subtle metaphors, nature similes, floral imageries and personifications in his poems.  Yet, while reading his poems, one notices that he is not quite a nature poet, at least not in the conventional sense of the word . In fact, his poems are a deep insight into that often deceptive relationship between man and nature. Though nature surrounds man, man in his haste to acquire more material things overlooks the fact often some natural things can incite very deep feelings. Frost's poems highlight this fact that nature and humans can never be seen out of context with each other and that their relationship, though subtle, is of immense importance.


      "Two roads diverged in a wood and I –

       I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."    

                                                      ------By Robert Frost