STUDENT DIRECTIONS - Evaluating Frost Argumentative Task
Evaluating Frost Argumentative Task
Your English class has been studying different poets. As your class read many of Robert Frost' poems, they identify a common theme. Your teacher takes the class to the library to search for more of his poems and reviews of his poems. Several sources are found.
After you have reviewed these sources, you will answer some questions. Briefly scan the sources and the question based on the article. Then go back and read the sources carefully so you will have the information you will need to answer the questions and complete your research. You may use scratch paper to take notes.
Source # 1
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Source # 2
by Robert Frost
When the wind works against us in the dark,
And pelts with snow
The lowest chamber window on the east,
And whispers with a sort of stifled bark,
'Come out! Come out!'-
It costs no inward struggle not to go,
I count our strength,
Two and a child,
Those of us not asleep subdued to mark
How the cold creeps as the fire dies at length,-
How drifts are piled,
Dooryard and road ungraded,
Till even the comforting barn grows far away
And my heart owns a doubt
Whether 'tis in us to arise with day
And save ourselves unaided.
Source # 3
Excerpt from Theodore Maynard's Review of Robert Frost's poetry, which appeared in the New York Times, Sunday, June 27, 1920- Snow the Predominant Note in Robert Frost's Poetry
Robert Frost's Skill
1) But I would like to draw my reader's attention to Frost's skill in packing a line. His words close in and dovetail upon one another. He uses no sawdust and wastes no words. This, of course, is the result of intense intellectual clarity, combined with repeated pruning, the excision of everything not absolutely essential. It has its drawbacks, of course, chief of which is a stiffness which is occasionally, but very occasionally evident in his work. But then, everybody who packs poetry tightly suffers under some drawback - generally one that is much worse than stiffness. Browning and still more Father Gerard Hopkins, often pack so closely as to lose all intelligibility. That never happens to Frost, who is invariably lucid.
2) The firm precision, however, which often characterizes him is, I think a real defect. He has the New Englander's limitations along with the New Englander's noble gifts. He has grace, but very little glamour. It is the custom these days to sneer at glamour, to consider it a cheap affair. "Let us feed the scoffers upon solid food, not thin air!" Quite so; still, without denying the necessity of solid food, I will assert that glamour has been the breath of life to English poetry. I do not say to all poetry, but to poetry written in English. We are of the North, and our language has a symbolistic rather than the ideological quality of the Latin languages of the South. Mystery is in our blood, and without it we would become anemic.
3) Robert Frost's poverty of glamour is to my mind a defect, and allied to it is his feeble capacity for praise. There is about him a curious absence of exultation and exaltation - the two principal marks of the major poet. But Robert Frost is beyond any question in a major poetry. How, then, you ask, can he be that if he has these specified defects?
That is Robert Frost's secret. Instead of glamour, he has the most piercing poignancy; for praise he substitutes irony, for spiritual exaltation a tender beauty, forever close to the earth and the children of the earth.
A Cold Landscape
1) This leads me to offer the remark with which I nearly opened my essay. If I had to sum up Frost with a word, I would use the word "frost." Winter flies over all his landscape; his brooks are sealed with ice and his hills covered with snow. I have not calculated the exact proportion of poems which are pictures of snow, but to make a rough guess rather more than half definitely refer to winter. The remainder, with few exceptions, suggests the winter. His spring poems are full of the remembrance of snow; his autumn poems are full of the anticipation of snow. It is not simply that he describes a snow-bound world, like Whittier. The snow has taken possession of his mind.