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POETIC STYLE OF ROBERT FROST

When Frost’s second volume of poems, called “North of Boston” appeared, one comment
on it was that Frost had turned the living speech of men and women into poetry. Frost’s
poetry has plain language and lack of rhetoric. This indeed is the most characteristic quality
of Frost’s poetic craftsmanship. Frost’s first volume “A Boy’s Will” is poetry that sings, but
the second volume “North of Boston” is poetry that talks. Such poems as ‘The Mountain
Home-Burial’, ‘A Hundred Collars’, ‘Blueberries’ and ‘The Code’ show Frost’s mastery of the
difficult art of handling conversation in verse forms.

Even when rhyme is used in such poems, as in ‘Blueberries’, we do not feel any
awkwardness or artificiality, Indeed, what is most striking abou t many of Frost’s poems
have colloquial, homely and literary idioms. Frost has fulfilled Wordsworth’s aim of using
common speech heightened by passion. Frost may be regarded as one of the stylists of the
colloquial. His goal was Emerson’s: “Cut these words and they would bleed.

Frost wanted to capture in his poetry the rhythms of every day talk, which he called
“The sound of sense”, and which were then to be blended with the regular beat of meter.
Rhythm without meter leads to free verse, which Frost despi sed all his life and which he
compared to “Playing Tennis with the net down”. Frost evolved his own individual poetic
voice. The poem ‘A servant to Servants’ is the extraordinary flexibility of blank verse. Frost
produced a new blank verse rhythm, wedded f irmly to the sound of sense and capturing
with accuracy and flexibility of the speaking voice.

Frost blends aphorism and description. Te poem ‘reluctance’ explains it. Aphorisms
are quite frequent in Frost’s poetry and they give to it a popular appeal.

In many of his best known poems, Frost employs the oldest ways to be new, namely
lyric form. The essential feature of a lyric is its musicality, and lyric achieves its musical
effects by traditional techniques of meter, rhyme, and stanza pattern. Much of Fr ost’s
reputation is based on such lyrics as ‘Stopping by Woods’, Acquainted with the Night’,
‘Reluctance’, and ‘The Road Not Taken’. Frost not only extended the subject matter of lyric
poetry but also brought extraordinary sophistication and originality to it. Frost’s verse is
always pleasant to the ear, not difficult to the mind, and rarely dull:

One impulse persists as our breath;

The other persists as our faith.

(Sitting by a Bush)

At least don’t use your mind too hard,

But trust my instinct----- I’m a bard.

(At Woodward’s Gardens)

According to Frost, a poem is never “a put -up job”. He thus differs from those who
hold that a poem is an artifact, or a thing deliberately constructed. Frost believed that a
poem should make it self as it grows. The poems ‘The Grindstone , ‘The West- Running
Brook’, ‘The Star Splitter’ are the obvious examples of this technique.

1
Frost insists on the importance of metaphor. He believes in ‘enthusiasm tamed by
metaphor’. Enthusiasm and metaphor must however be dramatic. Yet all these ---form,
metaphor, enthusiasm, and dramatic speech--- are, in the last resort, important only as they
convey meaning. Frost has a lively visual sense. With every volume of poems, his control
over language and imagery became more triumphant.

Frost’s verse is formal; even at times; stately; its movements are often easily
anticipated. Though his technique is so flexible, his handling of language is so delicate. His
ideas thus appear not as pre-conceived notions, but as sudden discoveries.

Finally, the fact must be recognized that Frost is also an experimenter and an expert in
various poetic forms ------odes, eclogues 1, satires, dramatic monologues and dialogues and
masques2. He has employed meters, sonnets and sonnet variants, terza rima 3 , heroic
couplet, blank verse and also certain forms which are his own invention

1.pastoral poem: a pastoral poem, usually in the form of a dialogue between shepherds

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ved.

2.performance: a dramatic entertainment similar to opera, popular in England in the 16th and 17th centuries, in
which masked performers represented mythological or allegorical characters

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3.Italian verse form: a rhyming verse form of Italian origin consisting of three -line, 11-syllable verses tercets,
with the middle line of one verse rhyming with the first and third lines of the next

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Written and Composed By;

Prof. A.R. Somroo

M.A. English, M.A. Education

Cell: 03339971417