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Common Themes in Robert Frost's Poems
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Death and the Heavens

            The poems written by Robert Frost, while different in context and poetic references all seem, for the most part, to be connected by a few common underlying themes. The first and largely main underlying theme is that of death and despair. He tends to write a lot of his poems with a gloomy beginning or outcome in mind. A few poems that come to mind include “A Soldier”, “In a Disused Graveyard”, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, and “The Pasture”. All these poems reference death and despair to some degree or another. “A Soldier” for instance uses a lot of imagery to get the point across that death is a part of war by comparing the soldier to a fallen lance that lies on the ground where it was thrown. Death in this poem is referenced by how the lance is left there and begins to rust and waste away, much like a dead soldier’s body on the battle field.

            “In a Disused Graveyard” death or lack thereof is the reason that the graveyard is unused. The graveyard is still visited by the living, but no dead people are being buried there anymore. This poem uses personification to give a human-like quality to the gravestones that seem to project a message that more dead will come even though they never do. This poem is similar to “A soldier” in the sense that they both discuss death, but different because one is about death before burial and the other is about death after burial. “Nothing Gold Can Stay” addresses death in a more subtle way with referencing the natural order of things and how everything even Mother Nature has a life cycle. Things are born and die every day and nothing can change that. This poem is similar to “The Pasture” which also references the natural order of things by suggesting the person is going out to retrieve the calf to slaughter it, but different in the sense that the gold only dies metaphorically, while the calf is a living thing that will actually die. These four poems are great examples of how Robert Frost was fascinated with writing about death and how he found a variety of interesting and complex ways of incorporating it into the poems he wrote.

            The second major theme I came across while reading his different poems was his obsession with writing about the heavens and stars as direct and underlying symbols in his work. There are many references to this, but most notably I found them in the poems “Desert Places”, “On Looking Up By Chance at the Constellations”, “Once by the Pacific”, and “Stars”. These poems all seem to incorporate the word “Star” into them in a variety of different ways. “Desert Places” references stars in the second line of the last paragraph where is says “Between stars—on stars where no human race is” and uses them to give a sense of despair and loneness to the character by providing an image of something that is around a lot of empty space and far from anything else such as stars are. This is also is seen in “Once by the Pacific” in the last line that says “Before God’s last put out the light was spoken” suggesting that the stars are the lights being referenced. Both “On Looking by Chance at the Constellations” and “Stars” are still further examples of his use of the night sky to address loneness and despair because they address the stars, and even sun and moon as objects that we look to for answers and see as having power over our lives and very existence. “Stars” makes this very apparent in the second paragraph where is say “As if with keenness for our fate” which shows that the stars are being objectified as things of power over humans.

            Robert frost used a lot of imagery and symbolism throughout his poems to project his feelings about death, despair and loneness. It is obvious that he believed to some degree that the heavens had influence over our lives and how we found and followed our paths. To me it seems that he came to understand and accept death as the natural order of things and felt like expressing that by integrating it into his work.    

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