The Poetry of and Robert Frost Five Sources The poetry of Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost contains similar themes and ideas. Both poets attempt to romanticize nature and both speak of death and loneliness. Although they were more than fifty years apart, these two seem to be kindred spirits, poetically speaking. Both focus on the power of nature, death, and loneliness.
The main way in which these two differ is in their differing use of tone. The power of nature is a recurring theme in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost. Dickinson uses this theme in her poem ‘ ‘Nature’ is what we see -.’ The power of nature is strongly portrayed in this poem by Dickinson’s articulation of what the speaker see’s in nature. ‘ ‘Nature’ is what we see -… / Nature is what we hear -… / Nature is what we know -‘ (277 lines 1, 5, 9).
Nature is everything to a person, it appeals to all senses. Dickinson also says in this poem, ‘So impotent Our Wisdom is / To her Simplicity’ (277). The speaker is saying that nature has such great power that one can’t even comprehend her simplest ways. In comparison Frost’s poem ‘Birches’ also portrays the power of nature. Nature helps to represent the simpler things in life. Frost’s poem is recalling the speakers childhood.
‘So was I once myself a swinger of birches. / And so I dream of going back to be’ (472-473). Nature held such power over the speaker as a child that he dreamt of going back to relive being one with nature and swinging in the trees. Dickinson and Frost both used death and loneliness as main themes. In Emily’s poem ‘my life closed twice before its close -‘ it has been interpreted that the speakers life closed twice when two lovers died leaving the speaker alone.
The speaker also refers to her own death when it is said, ‘If Immortality unveil / A third event to me’ (278). The third event is referring to the speakers own death. In the last two lines of the poem, ‘Parting is all we know of heaven, / And all we need of hell’ (278). The speaker is talking about heaven being the relief of seeing pain end for the loved one. The interpretation of hell is the pain and grief that one feels after a loved one has died. Like Dickinson, Frost also conveys the themes of death and, even more so, loneliness.
In his poem, ‘Acquainted with the Night’ the speaker ‘out walked the furthest city light’ (466). The narrator of this poem has walked outside of society. He has ‘walked out in rain-and back in rain’ (466), this symbolizes that the speaker has endured a lot. Frost’s poem ‘Fire and Ice’ not only speaks of the end of the world, but also the end of the speaker himself: Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. (466.
1-4) The speaker has been in love and knows that desire, that is why he wants to end in the heat of fire. The speaker then talks about how he would feel if he had to die twice: But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice. (466. 5-9) Here the speaker is saying that he knows enough about hate not to want to feel the pain that the emotion can cause. Ice is referring to the heart turned stone cold so that emotion can’t be felt. Therefore, destruction by ice is also great.
Frost and Dickinson are similar when it comes to themes but they differ when it comes to style. Tone, for example, is one aspect in which these poets differ. Emily Dickinson’s tone, or attitude, is very negative throughout her poetry. She consistently writes of death, and is not very optimistic. On the other hand Robert Frost has a more optimistic tone. Although he still writes of death and loneliness he gives a feeling of hope in his writing.
Frost’s poetry is softened by his natural, conversational tone where as Dickinson’s poems are all lyrical and aim for a single effect. In ‘Acquainted with the Night’ the overall feeling is solitude. The narrator ‘walked out in the rain – and back in rain… and stood still and stopped the sound of feet’ (Frost 466), thus, creating a feeling of quiet contemplation. In contrast Dickinson writes ‘I felt a Funeral, in my Brain,’ also about solitude; however, her poem does not speak so quietly, for example ‘Kept beating- beating – till I thought / my Mind was going numb – ‘ (283) gives a harsh feeling that is not at all peaceful.
Loneliness, death, and nature are all common themes existing in the poetry of both Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost. Although their themes are similar the tone at which the poem is spoken tends to give off a different feeling. Emily speaks with such negativity, where as Frost’s poem still gives some feeling of hope. Frost and Dickinson were both great poets of their time who shared many of the same ideas but delivered them differently. Works Cited and Consulted Bray, Paul.
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