Comment 5 of 305, added on December 17th, 2008 at 11:40 PM.
Robert Frost is American’s leading pastoral poet with lots of famous poems
such as “Stopping by woods on a snowy evening”, “The road not taken ”, “The
span of life” and “Mending wall”. He demonstrated in his verse that nature
is man’s most revealing mirror and the clearest window into human
personality. That conviction led him to explore the darkest force of both
nature and humanity. Here we’d like to talk about one of his poems “Tree At
My Window”. In order to fully understand his poetry, the idea of pastoral
proves useful. Not all the nature poetry is considered as pastorals in any
strict sense, actually the two kinds of poetry differ. In pastorals the
subject is a special society, or more, generally a way of life, and nature
is merely the setting within which we see the subject. The pastoralist does
not write about nature while he uses nature as his scene, and it is
important only in that it defines the swain’s point of view. Frost’s nature
poetry is closely related to his pastoralism.
Tree at My Window
Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on,
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.
Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.
That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.
In the poem, “tree” indicates nature. “I” lowered the sash but did not draw
the curtain, showing that the mysterious nature has its own attraction that
“I” can’t resist. “I” really want to embrace nature and forget all about
the reality. The contrast between man and nature is the theme of Frost’s
poetry. As we all know, Frost suffered a lot from his family disasters. In
1934 his youngest and best loved child , Marjorie , died a slow death from
the puerperal fever contracted after giving birth to her first child ; in
1938 his wife Elinor died suddenly of a heart attack , then , when he
seemed to be pulling things together once more , his son Carol committed
suicide in 1940. Another daughter, Irma , suffered from mental disorders
and was finally institutionalized. His personal tragedies may have
something to do with his attitude towards society and the reality. He has
to take shelter in nature, which he regards as kind of a spiritual garden.
However, “I” have a “dream-head”. Man can’t live out of the society. Frost
also wants to get fame by writing poems. Although he dislikes the
industrial culture, he can’t hide his attempts to be famous by getting his
poetry published. That’s why he moved his family from the U.S.A to the UK
in 1912. However he was frequently refused by publishers, so “Not all your
light tongues talking aloud could be profound”.
In the poem, “slept” implies “stop” or “give up”. Actually Frost really
wants to escape the noisy reality and enjoy the quietness of nature.
However, Frost is Christian due to the influence by his mother. According
to the Christian doctrine, God creates human being as well as nature, human
being should control and dominate nature while they can’t be members of
nature, so “I was taken and swept”. Frost stays in a state of torture.
The last four lines mean that the tree is mostly concerned with the weather
of storms that could rip off limbs, lightning that could split it in two or
start a fire that could burn it down while Robert Frost is most concerned
with in weather (thoughts) in his head that could make him believe all
sorts of horrible things or lead him astray.
The conflict or tension of the poem between nature and the reality is
solved by “Fate” and “she put our heads together”, which reflects Frost’s
ambiguity of feelings. Frost sees in nature a symbol of man’s relation to
the world. The remoteness of nature reveals the tragedy of man’s isolation
and his weakness in the face of vast, impersonal forces. To some extend,
“Fate” ”put our heads together” not only satisfies Frost’s desire to be a
member of nature but also portrays the heroic aspect of human being.
There are some figures of speech in the poem. Frost treats “dream”, “tree”
and “fate” as persons. Dream has its ‘head”, tree is “taken and tossed” and
fate “put our heads together”. Besides, we find the poem has a strong sense
of rhythm and has its own rhyme style by studying the poem as following:
To Frost, nature is lovely and dangerous (Rolella, 1991). It is the mirror
of society and the reality. In his eyes, there is another world---a world
full of social responsibilities (Ogilvie, 1954). When he was young he
dreamed of entering the deep structure of the mysterious nature, however,
he has to live in his own real settings. He really wants to enjoy the
beauty and quietness of nature while he can’t forget his own social
responsibilities, which forms the theme used in his other poems. However,
nature is separate, independent, off by itself away from man, just as the
country north of Boston is separate from the urban environment of modern
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and willing to communicate with friends from
every corner of the world.