Robert Frost as a modern poet

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After Apple-Picking is a notable literary work by Robert Frost. A complete discussion of this literary work is given, which will help you enhance your literary skills and prepare for the exam. Read the main text, key info, Summary, Themes, Characters, Literary Devices, Quotations, Notes, to various questions of After Apple-Picking.


Discuss Frost as a modern poet.
Or, Frost’s poems are local in colour but universal in appeal.
Or, Frost’s poetry reflects modern life despite its pastoral setting.
Or, “Frost is regional and universal at the same time.

Robert Frost (1874-1963) is one of the most celebrated American poets of the 20th century. His poems often juxtaposed pastoral settings with the complexities of modern life. While his poems like “After Apple Picking,” “The Birches,” “The Death of the Hired Man,” and “The Road Not Taken” may appear to revolve around rural and natural themes. They offer profound insights into the human condition and the challenges of contemporary existence.

Exploration of the Inner Self: Frost’s modernism is evident in his inner self-exploration. His poems often delve into the complexities of human emotions and experiences. In “After Apple Picking,” the speaker reflects on his life and his choices, a common theme in modernist literature. The poem’s opening lines,

My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,

The lines convey a sense of reflection and self-examination. The ladder represents the speaker’s journey through life, and reaching “toward heaven” suggests a deeper, spiritual exploration.

Equivocation and Multiple Interpretations: Frost’s modernist approach is characterized by equivocation and multiple layers of meaning. In “The Birches,” he describes the bending of birch trees due to ice storms, which can be seen as a metaphor for life’s hardships and the need for temporary escape. The lines,

I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over,

It suggests a desire for renewal and rebirth, a common modernist theme. The poem’s ambiguity allows readers to solve it in various ways. It emphasizes the subjective nature of human experience.

Regionalism and Rural Settings: Frost’s choice of rural settings and his use of regional dialects are modernist elements that set him apart. “The Death of the Hired Man” exemplifies this by portraying the lives of rural New Englanders. Frost’s characters speak in a typical regional dialect, such as Warren’s line,

I ain’t so sure of that, we mustn’t laugh at him.

This reflects Frost’s devotion to grasping the authenticity of rural life and language. It is a hallmark of modernist literature that seeks to maintain a region’s unique cultural and linguistic factors.

Narrative Complexity and Unconventional Structure: Frost often employs narrative complexity and unconventional structure in his poems. It challenges traditional poetic norms. In “The Road Not Taken,” he presents a first-person narrative of a traveller who faces a pivotal choice. The poem’s structure is unique, with its four stanzas of five lines. It creates a sense of contemplation and reflection. The famous lines,

I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference,

These lines expose Frost’s modernist tendency to leave readers questioning the consequences of choices and the uncertainty of life’s paths.

Critique of Society and Human Condition: Modernist poets often critiqued society and the human condition, and Frost is no exception. In “The Death of the Hired Man,” the poem explores themes of work, loyalty, and understanding within a changing society. Mary and Warren represent different perspectives on the hired man, Silas. Mary’s compassion for Silas contrasts with Warren’s pragmatism. This reflects the societal tensions between individualism and communal values. This conflict represents the modernist questioning of established norms and values.

In conclusion, Robert Frost’s modernist sensibilities glow through in his poems “After Apple Picking,” “The Birches,” “The Death of the Hired Man,” and “The Road Not Taken.” His exploration of regionalism demonstrates his commitment to the modernist movement. These poems continue to resound with readers by offering complex and thought-provoking reflections on the human experience. This makes Frost a significant figure in modernist poetry.