Poetry of Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Frosts poetry is a Metaphor for the ways in which we make sense of our lives

The ways in which people develop their imaginative landscapes, their attitudes and values and how they respond to the world around them are influenced by their sense of place.  In analysing texts the landscape may be seen in literal or metaphorical terms.  Places where we have lived and people we have lived with contribute to our outlook on life and how we respond to particular situations.  For some people these memories stay with them throughout life.  The imaginative landscape derives from the diversity of these experiences over the years.  The physical landscape of a person’s life forms a literal and metaphorical yardstick with which to measure the passage of time and the acquisition of personal characteristics.  The physical becomes intertwined with their imaginative landscape.

Robert Frost’s Imaginative Landscape

Encompasses both the beauty and dark side of the land and of human nature.  While his love of the natural world is evident, inspiring him as a poet and a person, he does not romanticize it, rather he imbues it with strong moral tones, reflecting in his love of rural America.

As well as describing the physical world, Frost is also preoccupied with how the human figures are placed in the landscape and in time.  His characters are aware of where they have come from and their history.  They move in time from the past but also encompass the future.  Frost’s imaginative landscape helps us to construct versions of ourselves by exploring where and who we have come from and who we might become.

‘The Road Not Taken’ Poem by Robert Frost

The speaker stands in the woods, considering a fork in the road.  Both ways are equally worn and equally overlaid with un-trodden leaves.  The speaker chooses one, telling himself that he will take the other another day.  Yet he knows it is unlikely that he will have the opportunity to do so.  He admits that someday in the future he will recreate the scene with a slight twist, he will claim that he took the less-travelled road.

One of the attractions of this poem is its archetypal dilemma, one that we instantly recognise because each of us encounters it numberable times, both literally and figuratively.  Paths in the woods and forks in the roads are ancient and deep-seated metaphors for life, its crises and decisions.  Identical forks, in particular, symbolise for us the nexus of free will and fate.  We are free to choose, but we do not really know beforehand what we are choosing between.  Our route is, thus, determined by an accretion of choice and chance, and it is impossible to separate the two.

The Fourth Stanza Holds the Key to the Poem with 2 Tricky Words

“I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference”.

Those who interpret this poem as suggesting non-conformity take the word “difference” to be a positive difference.  There is nothing in the poem that suggests that this difference signals a positive outcome.  The speaker could not offer such information, because he has not lived the “difference” yet.

The other word that leads non-discerning readers astray is the word “sigh”.  By taking “difference” to mean a positive difference, they think that the sigh is one of nostalgic relief.  However, a sigh can also mean regret.  There is the “oh, dear” kind of sigh, but also the “what a relief” kind of sigh.  Which one is it?  We do not know.

If the the sigh is one of relief, then the difference means the speaker is glad he took the road he did.  If the sigh is one of regret, then the difference would not be good, and the speaker would be sighing in regret.  The speaker of the poem does not even know the nature of that sigh because that sigh and his evaluation of the difference his choice will make are still in the future.  It is a truism that any choice we make is going to make “all the difference” in how our future turns out.

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I am NOT an on-line free tutoring service.  My resources on this website are for general use only.  I do not write student’s essays for them or give advice on essay prompts. However, for more intensive tutoring in a specific area of English, I will visit students in their own homes for private tutoring sessions that are paid on an hourly basis.

 

Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy

Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy

Maestro

Signifance of ‘Place’ in Maestro

Place is integral to an understanding of the characters in Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy.

In some ways, the cities of Darwin, Adelaide and Vienna parallel the growth of the characters.  In other respects, the character’s attitudes towards the cities reveal their motivations and, in the case of Keller, the mystery of his past.  Darwin and Adelaide exemplify the most obvious and literal examples of the polarity of North and South.

“Up North” Darwin in the 1960’s – a Wild Frontier Town

“Up North” in the 1960’s traditionally represented the outpost of civilisation in Australia, with Darwin as its wild frontier town.  In pre-Cyclone Tracy Darwin, there were few opportunities for public entertainment or cultural events.  The town’s residents had a reputation for heavy drinking, fast driving and little regard for fine music or the arts.  In 1967 few homes had air conditioning so that Darwin’s wet heat had to be alleviated with iced drinks, ceiling fans and evening sea breezes through louvred windows.  Initially John Crabbe described Darwin’s inhabitants as “wife-beaters, fugitives from justice, alcoholics and maintenance dodgers” (p.17).  Darwin was “the terminus … A town populated by men who had run as far as they could flee” (p.17).

Goldsworthy Portrays Life in Darwin as a Rhythm of Dramatic Contrasts

Life in Darwin is portrayed as a rhythm of dramatic contrasts between day and night, and the Wet and Dry seasons.  Thunder is “the sound of February, of deepest, darkest Wet” (p.4).  The Wet exaggerates nature in every way.  The hard-drinking customers at The Swan where “it was always Wet season” (p.17), provide the background rhythm to Paul’s lessons with Keller and their wrangles over the choices of compositions for his lessons and practice.  The change of season to the Dry marks an important point in the characters’ moods.  Everyone’s mood is lightened and refreshed at the beginning of “seven months of clear, enamel-blue days” (p.28), when meals are taken outside in “a nightly cooling ritual” (p.30).  Throughout the novel, Goldsworthy uses the imagery of night and day, Wet and Dry, sunshine and darkness to symbolise or illustrate his characters’ states of mind.

Darwin confronts the Crabbes with Physical and Mental Challenges

The Crabbes’ move to Darwin, a career promotion for John, confronts all three family members with both physical and mental challenges.  To Paul, Darwin is a tropical paradise; to his parents it is, initially too hot, humid and uncivilised.  John Crabbe declares Darwin is “A city of booze, blow, and blasphemy” (p.9) but Paul loves Darwin from the moment he steps off the plane from Adelaide: “I loved the town of booze and blow at first sight.  And above all its smell: those hot, steamy perfumes that wrapped about me as we stepped off the plane, in the darkness, in the smallest hours of a January night.  Moist, compost air.  Sweet-and-sour air …” (p.9).

Goldsworthy Describes Darwin in Lush Descriptive Passages

Goldsworthy devotes considerable attention to crafting lushly descriptive passages which evoke Darwin’s exotic quality, its multicultural population and the strong emotions of sexuality.  Paul delights in the dense foliage of their garden, at the “unnatural greenness” of leaves, and marvels at the brilliance of parrots, butterflies, huge insects and grubs: “Everything grew larger than life in the steamy hothouse of Darwin, and the people were no exception.  Exotic, hothouse blooms” (p.11).

Darwin for Eduard Keller was an Exile

For Herr Eduard Keller, the maestro, Darwin was an exile, a self-imposed punishment stemming from his perceived responsibility for the deaths of his wife and child.  Darwin is the maestro’s decision to live as far as possible, both literally and metaphorically from his cultured European background.  Paul vividly remembers his first encounter with the maestro.  He was fascinated by Keller: “I’d seen nothing like him before.  He was short: migrant-height, European height…The hair above that flaming face was white, sparse, downy.  On his red nose he had placed … a pince-nez… Above all, I remember the hands: those dainty, faintly ridiculous hands” (p.5).  Despite Darwin’s oppressive heat, Keller is dressed in a white linen suit, crisp and freshly laundered.  As Paul pushed his way through the drinkers in The Swan each Tuesday for his piano lesson, he found it “easy to place Keller among these fugitives” running away from things they chose not to remember.

Private Home Tutoring of English Not an On-Line Free Tutoring Service

I am NOT an on-line free tutoring service.  My resources on this website are for general use only.  I do not write student’s essays for them or give advice on essay prompts. However, for more intensive tutoring in a specific area of English, I will visit students in their own homes for private tutoring sessions that are paid on an hourly basis.