It went many years,
But at last came a knock,
And I though of the door
With no lock to lock.

I blew out the light,
I tip-toed the floor,
And raised both hands
In prayer to the door.

But the knock came again.
My window was wide;
I climbed on the sill
And descended outside.

Back over the sill
I bade a ‘Come in’
To whatever the knock
At the door may have been.

So at a knock
I emptied my cage
To hide in the world
And alter with age.

Analysis, meaning and summary of the poem by

73 Comments

  1. george says:

    i like it cuz it rhymes

  2. Jon says:

    The most striking line of the poem is “hide in the world,” and it comes in the context of a knock from an unknown guest. I guess that Frost is writing about the relation between our inner and outer lives. He was hiding in himself at first (his house), but was called out, and yet is still hiding. Self-knowledge remains elusive whether we dwell in ourselves or in the wider world.

  3. ashley says:

    does anyone else think this poem is an extended metaphor for death?? death cannot be locked out of life, hence, the lockless door. if you look at the language at the end of the poem it can be seen as going into the ground as well all do when we die. The poem also starts out, it went many years, meaning he was old and his time was up. He blew out the light…the light symbolizes life? Let me know if this works for anyone else besides myself.

  4. lol says:

    this poem is filled with beautiful eye tear jerking stanzas it reminds me of my depressing life.

  5. matthew says:

    i like the poem

  6. N says:

    The lines in this poem that I keep rereading are in the last quatrain: “To hide in the world/And alter with age.” This passage seems existantial to me: “hide in the world” gives a sense of anxiety and alienation, and simultaniously “alter with age” shows an explicit consciousness of existance. If I had just seen this one line, I might have thought it was Ralph Ellison and not Frost.

    The speaker knows he must open the door and face whatever is behind it, but yet he seems resigned to be broken by it… to still exist, but not to thrive. I can see where some read depression out of this, but the word choice makes me disagree: “alter” is a very sterile word, unlike the descriptive prose of the first stanzas; he’s not “flourishing” with age or “whithering” with age, but rather age is simply changing him, almost mechanically.

    My impression upon first reading this poem was that he was talking about growing up and leaving a carefree childhood for, but that also don’t seem quite right to me. (Nor does it fit in with Frost’s norm. I realize and agree that it is a fallacy to analyze one idependant work in the context of others or the author’s life. But I just did, so sue me).

  7. Denholm & Mackie says:

    Jinn, i find your comments on the poem, especially about the first stanza, to be very confusing… of course the poem was based in the past, or at least started in the past, as we can see by the first line “it went many years”… you are trying to read what isn’t there. You also assume that frost is talking about himself – he may be talking about someone else in the first-person for the sake of the poem. Again with your comments on the second stanza, you try to read metaphorical senses into lines that just aren’t there – and even if blowing out the light is a metaphor, i highly doubt it would be a metaphor for getting rid of the “good”… why would that help anything?? Also your wording is very confusing, destroying what little meaning you have rightly wrung out of the poem. I would also like to meet the person for how jumping onto a sill requires no effort at all, and i would also like to meet the person who makes all window sills the same size (size small). In future, i suggest you do not try to think too hard about poems, and just let your natural instinct take over when commenting… also try not to confuse the issue by repeating the same sentence three times.

  8. Nick and the Smookernator says:

    I’m not sure whether Richard and Bart know exactly what a metaphysical poem is. In fact the poem has some of the features of a metaphysical poem, one of them being that it is an extended metaphor. So there.

  9. team.random says:

    In response to Luke’s comment, we think its agreeable.
    However, it is lacking passion in his post.

  10. richie rich says:

    i think that the person in the poem was a child who was hiding in his room. the person knocking on the door may have been a parent looking for him, and he was frightened because he thought his parents might punish him. when he jumped out the window, he was waiting to decide whether he should run away or not, and he may have run away depending on whether his parents were angry at him. in conclusion, i disenjoyed this poem immensly.

  11. Chalky and Visa says:

    Jinn, you honestly do not know what you are talking about. It is as if you were asked to write an essay in some English class. It was not necessary to write so much about one poem. You need to learn to be more concise. Maybe you are not too good at expressing yourself, hence needing to write a thesis on a poem 5 stanzas long.

    Anyway, more onto your content. In your first paragraph, you speak of the way the lockless door is something of the past. You write ““And I thought of the door”. This line can be interpreted as this lockless door was something of the past.” Clearly the line before it “It went many years” shows this and you don’t need to be so metaphorical and deep. It is obviously stated, you dont need to think so hard about it.

    The one positive thing about your thesis is the part about the way you put a tense on the third and fourth stanzas and state that the last stanza is a conclusion. Most people in this forum agree that the last stanza is probably the hardest to interpret but stating it as a conclusion makes it a little easier.

    However, alot of the language in this response is quite jumbled and hard to understand. Sometimes you use the word “metaphor” too easily, such as in the paragraph about the fourth stanza, where it is written “metaphorically” where no metaphor is actually stated in the stanza at all. Content wise, the entire thesis could have been shortened to around 300 words and been just as effective.

    Finally, to the good parts of this response. It is obvious that Jinn has put a large amount of effort into this response and has included great detail on his own opinions, some of which I agree with fully. For example, the paragraph on the fourth stanza; when Jinn states “Back over the sill”; if taken literally we assume that he gets back over the window, he then greets the knocker but then says he doesn’t’ know what was at the door”, which I believe similarly; i.e. that the thing at the door was unknown, and it was this unknown that he feared. Generally the content is quite meaningful, and expresses Jinn’s opinions however confusing they may be

    Overall Jinn’s efforts were definitely there, however the clarity is not, thus an average grade could only be given to this piece. Good try, better luck next time.

  12. Marcus and James says:

    Arjun’s comment is well structured and mighty awesome. He anaylses the poem to great length and really finds the meaning of the poem. This is done by systematically analysing each stanza. Furthermore, he is able to link a similar meaning from each stanza that works towards the idea of someone who is living a life of guilt, and remorse, after years of hiding or running away from it. Best of all, he gives his own personal opinion in his last paragraph. This gives an insightful view to one other than mine and James’. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Arjun V.’s comment from Australia. What a coincidence, we’re from Australia too.

  13. Giang Cao says:

    In reply to Oprah Chalk-Hatten, are you related to Oprah Winfrey?
    So totally OMG, this poem is so totally…totally. LOL!
    I absolutely agree with your interpretation of the poem. I believe the poem explains the metaphorical surrounding of a persons mind…bell went…too bad

  14. Philip M. says:

    This poem can be interpreted in many ways, i choose the one of depression. It is quite obvious in this poem that the author is subjected to fear and uncertainty, perhaps its death? we dont know. “And i thought of a door, with no lock to lock” this shows that there is a oppotunity present, although he chooses neither to go through it, or enclose it. “i blew the light, i tip toed the floor” this shows the author is taking caution in what he is doing, perhaps its fear of someone or something. ” i emptied my cage” this could symbolise his exiting from his enclosure. This may be when he decides to face reality, but im my opinion i do not think so, i think that he leaves one enclosure for another. One much more deep and secrative, the author has not illustrated any evidence that he has decided to return to the outter world. I think this poem is a reflection of Frost’s life, perhaps its him in the present or past, perhaps he lost a family member and it inspired him to write this poem. There are endless possiblities as this is poetry there is no single correct reply for its analysis.

  15. Nick Ross says:

    “The Lockless Door” by Robert Frost paints a picture of a man trapped within the confines of his own mind; represented by a room with a door that has no lock, hiding from an unnamed terror.

    The poem begins after “many years” have passed, perhaps after the important experience on which the poem hinges. The speaker hears a knock which reminds him “of the door/ With no lock to lock”. If the door is his mind or conscience then what is this terror seeking entry? Whatever it is strikes a great fear into the speaker who continues; “I blew out the light, / I tiptoed the floor, / And raised both hands in prayer to the door”. The extinguishing of the light and the tiptoeing to the door establish a tone of dread and secrecy; the speaker would give anything not to have to face the terror behind the door so he retreats further behind darkness and silence. The prayer is a desperate entreaty to a higher power for the terror to go away.

    The gap between the first and second stanza give the briefest of pauses in which we are left to wonder whether the speaker has been successful. “But the knock came again” to confirm his worst fears and the speaker is forced to assume another hiding position from beneath his windowsill. It is interesting that the speaker doesn’t flee outright then but instead bids the nameless thing “come in”. Despite his fears the speaker does not yet have more than an idea what the thing might be and perhaps it is curiosity which explains this “come in”.

    The last stanza is the most important and the most open to interpretation. “So at a knock I emptied my cage” could mean that the speaker has either confronted his fears with his invitation for the thing enter in the last stanza or perhaps that he has abandoned his confinement. He resolves “to hide in the world / And alter with age” meaning perhaps that he stops living in fear of the thing at his door and gets back to his life.

  16. donguyen says:

    Luke’s poem analysis is correct in highlighting that Frost’s poem can and does have multiple interpretations. However, it seems that the response from Luke is lacking detail or emphasis on any particular aspect of the poem. Unfortunately, I disagree with the idea that the figure in the first stanza was hiding, instead it seems that the figure was simply waiting. If the figure was hiding, it would seem that hiding behind a lockless door is not the most ideal place to hide. I agree with Luke on his insight into the second and third stanza, however, again the insight is too broad. Such a broad insight and analysis really doesn’t offer the understanding that could be shown if Luke perhaps mentioned the significance of praying to the door and perhaps these were prayers to God. I disagree with Luke’s analysis of the fourth stanza. Initially it is difficult to even understand exactly what Luke means when he describes the fourth stanza. The poem does not clearly show that the subject understand “who” the knock is from, where as Luke suggests the subject “knows who it is”. Using the term “whatever” clearly dissociates the “knock” as potentially being anything. Overall Luke offers a broad prospective of the poem, to offer only an overview of what the poem may be about. Overall though, it is ineffective as being an analysis.

  17. Durk Hobbit says:

    I thought the poem was really good. I loved it

  18. bart and richard says:

    We think that this poem is not in fact a metaphor, and the language is too simplistic to warrant the depth of a metaphysical poem. Instead of doubt, the person in the poem is actually fearful of what is behind the door.

  19. Danny and Jinn says:

    This comment in my opinion is quite meaningful, and very understandable, however, there are some narrow thoughts made by Luke which I would like to help clear up.
    Firstly, He states the figure had hid for many, before something came knocking. How do you know that he actually hid or was actually waiting for someone to come to knock on that door?
    In the second, you state that he is hoping this thing will go away, but how do you know that Frost is really wanting this thing to go away, maybe he is simply too afraid to face it? Have you ever considered that?
    In the third, where you say he is escaping out of the window, trying to run away from. How do you support that he is actually escaping? And out of a window? You think of it too literally, and perhaps you have not considered the metaphorical meanings in these words. Is he running from someone? I think not. He could possibly be running away form himself. His own fears and thoughts.
    You say he makes it to the ground…. it doesn’t say he makes it to any ground, it merely states that he descends outside, there are many things to consider.
    In the final stanza you can not be exactly sure that he has run out into the world to hide and change. He may be simply living life without the entity of the knock bothering him.

  20. Willhen says:

    In response to Lukes (Australia) comment on the Lockless door, I agree to his comments.

    I do believe this is a powerful poem. In fact I find it quite personal, as if we can relate the poem’s true meaning into our lives. Such as the decision whether to confront to who or what is knocking at our own lockless doors.
    I also agree that you can interpret the poem in a different way each time you read it, because the poet becomes quite ambiguous as you read on in the poem, thus allowing your imagination to fill in the double meanings.
    Although many of the comments that Luke has made, I do not entirely agree with the last lines of his comment. I do not think that the thing knocking at the door is literally a person but rather the person is trying to run away from something of which he fears in his life. In my opinion, although there are many interpretations of this poem, the person is possibly running away from himself, because he may have some personal guilt or problems with his own conscience about something that happened some years ago. As it is his conscience, the cage in which he tries to hide in cannot hide him because he is trying to hide from himself.

  21. Oprah Chalk-Hatten says:

    sometime. Perhaps he was isolated and had been waiting for someone or something as sharemarket. In many ways, the poem seemed to be telling me that it is about a human who has been on his.her own for so long that he was scared of what is outside, the reality of life, so he tends to stay in his unit, the cage where most things is under his control. When the knock came, it could be his internal self trying to wake him up. After sneaking through the window, the speaker has come out, but is still somewhat safe. The end of the poem proclaims that the speaker has actually entered the surrounding community. The irony in this is that, even though he has gone up from this tiny “cage”, he has only entered a bigger one, one in which he will now dissapear in until he becomes more comfortable.

    \

  22. bart says:

    this poem although not to the standard of the metaphysical poets like donne and marvel, strikes the mind and asks us for a multi levelled interpretation

    this “knocking,” this lockless door is a poosible past memory or incident that has come back to haunt him or continues too. Memories of war and “foul deeds” are things that come too mind. This knocking is a perseverance of the memory in an attempt to adress the problem, and by asking “come in” it is an attempt, although “I climbed on the sill
    And descended outside.
    Back over the sill, showing a conservative and or scared response to what may happen by letting this memory in he shows at best a desire to address this problem. Again this may be one response of many within this building of a poem.

  23. Marcus Wong says:

    This poem seems to be presenting an imagery of the sense of fear that surrounds the author when something comes to haunt him. This fear comes in the form of a knock at the door. The author responds by blowing out a candle in his room. and tiptoe-ing across the floor. This gives us a sense of darkness and tension. you can just imagine the room being dark and silent. This is the initial confrontation the author has with the knock. At first, it seems like he is going to confront the fear. However, the poem later mentions him “Climbed on the sill, and descended outside.”
    From outside, he “bade” a come in. This imagery helps to show the author’s uncertainty or fear of what is to come if the door was opened. In an ironic sense, the author is inviting something in which he does not actually want in. The last stanza is rather confusing. It took a while for me to have my own interpretation of what it really meant. “Emptying his cage” is an interesting imagery. Firstly, the author confronts the fear knocking at the door. This results in the “emptying” bit. But what most readers miss is that he empties his cage, but he does not actually get out of it. So in an ironic sense, the author believes he has confronted and faced his fears. But realistically, he is still trapped in the world of fear and uncertainty. The cage is empty, but he’s still in it.

  24. donguyen says:

    Even though there are many interpretations of the Lockless door, to me is a poem of a person being scared to grow up to a person’s expectation but he also knows it was inevitable. He has been waiting for it for many years and he refers in the first stanza about the door. His room could have been a sanctuary for him over the past couple of years but with the room having a lockless door, he knew he would be called upon and cannot be avoided.

    He blows out his light so he thinks he can hide in his darkness and by tiptoeing he still wants to stay in his room. He prays so that the knock might have been a mistake but the knock comes again. He is then faced with a decision to face it or runaway. Here he knows he does not want to live up to this person’s expectation but he wants to live by his decisions. He runs away out of the window but he calls the person to come in once his out the window. I think he does this out of respect to the person because he does not want to keep the person there waiting and I think it’s also a way of saying sorry, sorry because he has to run away.

    I think Frost wanted to express that every individual should live their own lives and not be left to a person of higher authority e.g. the person behind the door. The lockless door can mean that in life we are not locked into anything, nothing is predetermined for us and we can control our lives to open doors to other paths. However in the poem I think the person was being controlled so he had to find another way to open doors and that was through the window. The end of the poem suggests, the person left his sanctuary and grew up in the real world and also that he lived a long life.

  25. Matt.S says:

    I think that this poem is about the character trying to escape the inevitable death. Llamas like cheese

  26. Matt.S says:

    I think that this poem is about him growing old and trying to escape the inevitable death. Llamas like cheese.

  27. James Banh says:

    Frost’s ‘The Lockless Door’ flows well and can be interpreted very literally.
    Re-reading each line gives a new meaning up until the final stanza. The final
    stanza turns the entire meaning of the poem on its head.

    At first, the speaker seems to be in a room. The room symbolises his own fear of
    something. The knocking on the door may be a reminder of his constant fear.
    However he can’t bring himself to answer it, or to conquer his fear.

    In the second stanza, he tries to make it look like he isn’t there. He submits
    to his fear yet again. He ‘raised both hands in prayer to the door’. This shows that even after all this time, the fear still has power over him.

    When he looks out the window, it suggests that he can finally beat his fear. He takes a step forward and has a look at what might happen if he just answers the knock. He climbs back into the window and decides to answer the knock.

    The final stanza suggests that once he re-enters the room, the answers the door. Because of this, he is finally free of his fear. ‘To hide in the world’, he is able to be normal again and blend in. He can ‘alter with age’, meaning he can grow old in peace and without this fear.

  28. Jinn K. says:

    Not only is this poem rhythmic and flowing, but the contents of it are thoughtful and influencing. Many conclusions and ideas of what Frost was thinking of can be drawn from this poem, and I still am not sure which one is the most accurate.
    In the first stanza, we come to realization that many years had past before a “knock” on the lockless door came. However, some may not notice the part “And I thought of the door”. This line can be interpreted as this lockless door was something of the past, and frost is about to tell a story. So if we look at the first stanza again, it can possibly mean that many years past, and then came a knock on my door, which triggered me to think of my old door with no lock to lock. Then we look at the metaphorical meanings of the words, which may perhaps be metaphorical, or possibly not. For if there was a knock on the door now, that made have triggered frost to think of the story, but this knock may not be the same “knock” that he refers to in the story he tells.
    Now the second third and fourth stanzas can be accepted as being told as a story of the past. And the fifth would be the conclusion, a sort of side note from the writer.

    The story begins with Frost referring to himself as I, blowing out the candle light, tip-toeing across the floor, and then giving a prayer to the “lockless door”. We can accept that this is the actual event, or we can delve deeper into these English words and pull out a metaphorical meaning from this stanza. Blowing out the light could be possibly resembled ridding the “good” of himself, as in perhaps doing something against the law. Light can be assumed as “good”, as the dark can be seen as “evil. Tip-toeing across the floor, may be understood as him doing something secretly not wanting to be heard, and seen for that matter if we think of the light as actual light as well. To raise both hands in a prayer, can be excusing himself, with two hands up to show his innocence and also a prayer to the “lockless door”. But then what is this lockless door we speak of, and perhaps the prayer may have been to the first knock, which is the implied knock which Frost brings in by saying he thought about the door.

    So the mysterious “knock” comes again in the third stanza. A window and we automatically assume that he is inside a room with only a door and window. This window is open wide, and He climbs onto the sill before exiting. Again we can take this information as the actual story, or break it down to turn it into something different. Firstly, he says “My window” this can be taken as he was in his room, or it can also be taken after reading the later lines, as his escape out of not a room, but of confinement. So his escape was wide, wide being it was a good opportunity to take to escape from his confinement. Normally people aren’t able to climb onto a window sill being so small, and also, why does he specify climbing onto the sill? Climbing onto something usually takes effort so we can assume that he is using some effort to get to this “sill” which can be inferred as a midpoint of escape. To descend outside from a window is not that easy. It is possible that he was high up and also he describes it as a seemingly easy task. So maybe he had an easy time getting out of this confinement. Outside can be of many meanings, with it being literal or simply his own guilty conscience.

    The fourth stanza can get rather confusing, as he says “Back over the sill”; if taken literally we assume that he gets back over the window, he then greets the knocker but then says he doesn’t’ know what was the door, we understand then that maybe he didn’t go back in at all, instead part of him goes back not the conscious part but a sense, which then greets whatever was at the door, but Frost himself is no longer inside. However, taking it one more step further into the metaphorical sense we see it as. He retreats back into his confinement and tells the “knocker” to “come in”. This makes us assume that perhaps this knocker is a fear of Frost’s and he is trying to come back to face it, but in the next line it seems he never faced it. Perhaps this knock could be anything at all, as “whatever” may mean that Frost himself didn’t know what was to take place, and he simply wasn’t sure about it.

    Then the conclusion comes which can be taken as a message from Frost. Interpreting this we see that this knock that happened emptied his cage, cage being possibly his room, or his mind, or his confined situation. He then hides in the world, world being either literal, society itself, or in the rest of his mind. Alter can mean changed as in change of himself, with experience due to age, or it can be simply ageing on. Looking at it again, we can see that he was able to escape the unfortunate experience which he had, and managed to grow old. And we can link this ageing with the first stanza where he says “it went many years”, for that also means that he is an old person.

    So now we have to figure out what this knock and this lockless door could have been. Either a person or an abstract event or feeling, the knock did not open this lockless door. A lockless door means that the door cannot be secured shut but it can be closed and opened. Then why did the entity which knocked not simply come in? Or perhaps this door was opened in the first place, and the entity which knocked did not want to come in.

  29. Will L. says:

    This poem is very interesting in the way it can move you and make you draw upon different conclusions every time you read it. After reading the poem many times I am still unsure as to what the poem really means as the poem is quite ambiguous. My general understanding of the poem is that the character in the poem is hiding from something that he has been hiding from for many years as in the poem “It went many years”. “But at last came a knock” is suggesting that whatever the character was hiding from has finally come back to haunt him. The second stanza suggests that the character is afraid of this thing he has been hiding from that is at the door so he “blew out the light and tip-toed the floor”. “And raised both hands in prayer to the door” means that the character is praying that whatever it is would just go away and leave him alone. When the knock comes again in the third stanza, the character finds a window and tries to escape from the thing at the door, but then he comes back to perhaps face his fears and meet this thing he has been hiding from. But when the knock comes again, I believe the character becomes fearful once again and so escapes to hide in the world.

  30. Andrew says:

    The Lockless Door, a Robert Frost poem, has a metaphorical meaning. Rhyming every second line in the pattern of ABCB, it gives the poem rhythm and flow. The poem also has beat that is much like an iambic pentameter. This again gives the poem a rhythm, but also sets a relaxing pace for the poem to be read. The five stanzas – each with four lines – depict an image of someone who has some sort of guilt or something to fear. The first stanza reveals the past guilt has resurfaced after “many years” of waiting and hiding. The knock on the door is like the beating of his conscience. The door with no lock signifies that his guilt cannot be forgotten and it will come back to haunt him. In the second stanza, when he blows out the light and tiptoes the floor, it shows that he does not want to reveal his presence. When he prays to the door, he is begging that his guilty conscience will just leave him alone. When the knock comes again in the third stanza, he realises that his guilt will not leave and seeks a way to escape. He finds that a “window” is his only means of escape and goes upon that path. However, in the forth stanza, he is uncertain of whether the path he has chosen is the right one. He knows he will have to face his conscience one day and “bade [his conscience] a ‘Come in’”. However, he is still outside the window and is unsure if he should face it or flee from it. The fifth and final stanza does not provide a definite conclusion for this poem. I believe that he has fled from his conscience once again “to hide in the world”. He “emptied his cage” which shows that he has left his refuge. However, it could also give the alternative meaning. He may have gone back in and faced his conscience and emptied his cage of guilt. He then hides “in the world and alter with age”, becoming like everyone else, his guilt becoming a thing of the past.

  31. Arjun.V says:

    This poem is very powerful, that affects you immediately after reading. I decided only to read a few responses and compare them to my own response, as they influence your own opinion into something that isn’t your own. The Lockless door definitely follows a being that has a deep fear, which is possibly related to a past guilt that has affected him greatly over the years. This can be demonstrated by systematically looking through the poem. The first stanza could be seen as referring to a recollection (and almost paranoia) of the past guilt, with the knocking at the door representing the beating of his conscience. The Door commented in the first stanza, having no “lock to lock” is the door to the guilt and fear created by the past and that can never be “locked out”.
    The second stanza goes into how the narrator feels about the sudden recurrence of guilt (and possibly remorse). It tells us of how the narrator tries to “hide” from the knock at the door (his impending guilt) and prays that it goes away. The Third stanza continues on, to tell us that the guilt cannot disappear with a few wishes and prayers, and that the narrator believes his only escape is through the “window”, which could be seen as an escape from one’s current life and lifestyle, and descends to the ground outside. The Fourth stanza tells of how the narrator decides to, after leaving their current situation, to face the past guilt and fear to try and absolve themselves.
    Finally, the fourth stanza can be interpreted in a number of different ways. Firstly, one could interpret that the narrator tries and escapes from his guilt by running away from their problem, thus “emptying the cage…(and) altering with age”. Secondly, it could be interpreted that after the narrator asks the thing at the door, to “come in”, he faces the fear and guilt and is able to join the rest of the world as an equal; i.e. hiding in the world, and altering with age as well all do through life.
    I personally believe that whatever has been met has been dealt with. Therefore, the meaning of the words “So at a knock, I emptied my cage” could be interpreted as; “all it took was a knock (wake up call) to allow the narrator to empty their life/living (cage) of guilt”. The words following “To hide in the world and alter with age” could have the meaning of the narrator returning to the general world, and altering with age as everyone else does.

  32. Danny says:

    This poem seems to be metaphor for someone’s thoughts, feelings or fears. The lockless door is the representation of those feelings because no one can lock out fear or guilt.
    The knock represents a a feeling or thought. (such as fear)
    The line “In prayer to the door” could mean that the person in the poem is begging the knock to go away.
    The open window is a chance to escape from the thoughts.
    The emptying of the cage seems to suggest the person ran away from their fears rather than embraced it.

    Another thought i had on the poem was:
    The lockless door is death, you cant escape from death and hence cannot lock it away.
    “It went many years” This line could suggest the person has lived many years,”But at last came a knock” could suggest the person is ready to die. The prayer line could mean the person is asking not to die and the window is a chance of escape.
    “I bade a “come in” could represent the person’s doubt about dying. but in the next line the knock is still there. So i belived the person ran away and “alter with age” (grow older perhaps?)

    p.s Assume the subject of the poem is a person.

  33. Giang says:

    The Lockless Door is basically about the speaker’s personal fear of society. The door having no lock implies certain vulnerability. Society is urging him to come out. The way I see it, as in the first stanza, Frost had been in the house, the cage, maybe for sometime. Perhaps he was lonely and had been waiting for someone or something as company. In many ways, the poem seemed to be telling me that it is about a person who has been isolated for so long that he feared what is outside, the reality of life, so he tends to stay in his house, the cage where everything is under his control. When the knock came, it could be his inner self trying to wake him up. After crawling through the window, the speaker has come out, but is still somewhat safe. The end of the poem states that the speaker has actually entered the surrounding society. The irony in this is that, even though he has emerged from this smaller “cage”, he has only entered a larger one, one in which he will now hide in until he becomes more comfortable.

  34. Luke says:

    This is a very powerful poem. You can read it again and again and it still has a new meaning each time. From the first line I knew there could be multiple meanings but I still find new ones each time I see it, and they all are correct interpretations.
    The first stanza says the figure had waited, or hid, for many before something came knocking.
    In the second he’s hoping this thing will go away, but doesn’t want it to know he’s there.
    In the third he’s escaping out the window, trying to run from whoever it is.
    By the forth stanza he’s made it to the ground but has a sort of nervous curiosity, he climbs back up to sill and tells it to come in. He knows who it is but not what it is.
    In the final stanza he has run out in to world to hide and change.

  35. Henry says:

    This is quite an interesting poem that can be quite ambiguous at times. The poem already hits you as it begins with the lines “it went many years” which can suggest that there was something done by the character many years ago, possibly something that he cannot escape from, hence the title “the lockless door.” “In prayer to the door” may suggest that the character is praying for the event to pass by, hoping for a turn for the best. The characters discovery of the window sill and climbing out of it hints that the character wants to run away from the confrontation of the door knocker, suggesting it’s a moment where the character does not want to be in. When the character “bades a come in” this may mean that his conscience is starting to tell him to confront this door knocker and settle it, although still hanging on the window still as if he cannot decide whether to confront or flee. With the knocking continuing the “ I emptied my cage, to hide in the world and alter with age.” May suggest that the character has fled from the confrontation with the door knocker and decides to hide from it, waiting to disappear with age.

    In all it is in my opinion that the character is in a situation where he does not want to be in and decides to hide from the problem and waiting for it to disappear with age or in time, although there is some hint that he still wants to confront the problem having already fled from it.

  36. Marcus Wong says:

    This poem seems to be presenting an imagery of the sense of fear that surrounds the author when something comes to haunt him. This fear comes in the form of a knock at the door. The author responds by blowing out a candle in his room. and tiptoe-ing across the floor. This gives us a sense of darkness and tension. you can just imagine the room being dark and silent. This is the initial confrontation the author has with the knock. At first, it seems like he is going to confront the fear. However, the poem later mentions him “Climbed on the sill, and descended outside.”

  37. bart says:

    i avidly dislike this poem!
    a) because it is literay dribble
    b) because it is too lose in its wording

    when reading this poem two ideas came to mind, the first being the concept of a repunzel based story, the lockless door holding her prisoner with the witch holding her prisoner and the “come in” being said by the prince to lure the witch in and kill her.

    the other idea is one of a woman or man coming out and revealing himself as a person. Initially i thought of a gay person coming out and asking for acceptance by “bading come in.” Again this poem is too open for discussion too many gaps but the openess leaves room for imagination

  38. Chris says:

    I’d like to answer this question with another question. Could god microwave a burito so hot that not even he could eat it?

  39. Dave says:

    I believe the comment to be about escaping the grasp of someone who may be abusing the subject of the poem. In this case either a small boy or child, whos father is approaching. After the knock on the door he prays that it is not his father, but on the second knock, he flees to the window, where he climbs out and then calls his father into the room. The distraction of having to enter the room to search for the boy gives him a small head start on his escape into the world. He flees out the window of his “cage” and into the world to “alter with age”.

  40. Thomas says:

    People die, making this poem all the more meaningful. Think about that.

  41. Denholm says:

    i reckon its about death and the average persons’ natural resistance, and yet natural curiosity, about death. climbing out of the sill represents the resistance, or fear, of death. However, coming back in represents the curiosity of every person about dying. in the end, i think the person decided that his cuirosity was not going to kill him, and even though he lived out his life growing old and changing, death will come to him as it comes to us all.

  42. Amanda says:

    I really like this poem. I’ve been through a lot lately and to me this poem means that we are prone to hide from what we fear and opportunities that are challenging. I think the cage being emptied is representative of an unsatisfied heart because of missed opportunities.

  43. Reggie says:

    i think that this poem shows more than just fear…but it also shows that there once was pain. If you’ve been hurt then theres always the fear of that pain that follows…i like this poem.

  44. Nereyda Hinojosa says:

    Everybody’s heart is a lockless door. This “person” did not let love come in therefore the cage was empty.

  45. nicole says:

    i like this poem a lot because it is showing how robert feels

  46. scott and cash says:

    i lik this peom sooooooooo much…im confused but it makes me warm inside despite it’s obligatory nature. he is obviously feeling guilty about talking to the devil

  47. nurhafiza says:

    i htink it might also be about something that you wishes to do but never really have the guts or the motivations to do it… until something happen which triggers you to do it… we talk about venturing into something new… but not ready for change… until something happen that threaten us to change… but then again “to hide in the world” signifies that we run from the problem rather than facing it head on…
    it is a very deep-meaning poem… i guess i still undecided as to what frost is trying to present…

  48. pooper says:

    what book is the poem from

  49. Alexis says:

    I had to choose a poem to explicate for my creative writing class unit on poetry. I chose the lockless door because it intrigued me. i initially had no idea what it was about but by reading other’s interpretations of it and making my own conclusions, i decided that it is about a past event that comes back to haunt him. That is the knock and the author had evaded said event for a long time but with the door, being his conscience, being a lockless door, it is impossible to keep intruders out. When Frost says he blew out the light and tiptoed, he was trying to hide and sneak away from this haunting event. WHen he raises his hands in prayer to the door, he is begging the door to keep the haunting thing away for just a moment longer while he tries to escape. The knock coming again is a sign that he cannot hide from it and when he climbs out the window he is either still trying to escape the knock or he is making recompense for whatever it was. When he climbs back over the sill and invites the knocker in he is saying that now that i know what i am up against, i can face it head-on. In conclusion he states that when the reminder of his past came, he opened himself, became vulnerable and as the result he was able to over come this haunting part of his past and in turn blend in with the world and move on with his life.

  50. konrad says:

    This poem can be looked at from many different angles, each making this poem look like it’s centered around fairly different topics or parts of life. The morale of the poem could be of guilt, or bad memories and a tragedy, or about friends and even romance. It is very probable that Robert intended for his poem to be looked at from various different angles. For the purpose of being able to finish writing this sometime this century, I will take on the guilt angle.
    So, if we assume that this poem is centered on guilt, than, in the first stanza, the first line could mean that it had been many years since the thing which had made him feel guilty had happened. The knock on the door is his conscience, irritating his mind and making him feel guilty and reminding him of his wrongdoing. The “knocking” is somewhat polite, and so he is just annoyed at it. If it were a hammering instead of a knocking on the door, he would be feeling more nervous that annoyed, almost scared. The “at last” part of this poem means that his guilt has finally caught up with him. When he says “and I thought of the door with no lock to lock” he means that it was inevitable that he would feel guilty, it would reach him no matter what because the door to his conscience is unlocked. This stanza contains the repetition of the word “lock”, which emphasizes the fact that the guilt has finally reached his conscience, with the “door” a metaphorical entrance to his conscience.
    In the second stanza, where he says that he blew out the light, that could mean that he is trying to hide from his conscience. The fact that he is “tip-toeing” proves this fact. The “raising of both his hands in prayer to the door” is a prayer that, hopefully, the door will stay closed and he won’t feel the pain of guilt.
    The third stanza shows that his prayer didn’t work, and the guilt is still trying to come in. he says that his window was wide because it was a beckoning exit from his guilty conscience. At this point in the poem, he starts trying to do something about this, so after finding this “window”, the metaphorical exit, or way around his guilt (the opposite of the door) he tries to break free of it. This may also mean repentance of the sin that caused his guilt. His “descending outside” means that he succeeded in avoiding the guilt, at least temporarily.
    For the fourth stanza, the term “back over the sill” would mean looking back to the past, at his guilty conscience. Now, the rest of this stanza could take on two different meanings. For the first one, let us assume that the guilt is like a person knocking on the door to this person’s house. One is that he is bidding the guilt to come into an empty home, where he has just escaped from, so the guilt enters the house, but he is not there, he is outside the window. He could be either mocking the guilt from outside the house because it expected someone to be there and the house is empty, or he could be buying time for him to escape from the guilt. The second, and deeper meaning is rather different. It is that he accepts the guilt from afar rather hesitantly, because he finally realizes that he cannot run from his guilty conscience forever, but he is still a little uncertain of accepting his sin/actions. The last two lines of this stanza takes on two meanings. The words “whatever the knock at the door may have been” means that he doesn’t know how he will feel after accepting the guilt, and the second meaning or use of these words are, as I said before, to let the reader look at this poem from a variety of angles, the “guilt” on of which I have taken up
    The fifth and last stanza is a conclusion to the poem, and is probably the most difficult to interpret. It means that the “knock” (which could be something that reminded him of his guilt which he had evaded for so long) caused him to empty his “cage” of guilt, pain and remembrance from his sin, by forcing him to “climb out the window”. The last two lines of the poem require much thought, because it raises questions like; ‘why would he hide if he has accepted his guilt?’(third line) or ‘why would he alter with age?’(fourth line). There are two answers to the first question, depending on how you interpreted the part of the poem where he “bade come in” to whatever was knocking on the door. If you interpreted that part of the poem as him repenting his sin, answer is that he is not hiding as you would think; due to shame, fear, etc. of the sin that he has committed, but he is hiding from more sins and more guilt that could attack his conscience like before. If you thought that part of the poem meant that he has hiding outside the house from the guilt, the answer is simple; that he is still hiding from his guilt, although it’s inevitable (this angle makes him look foolish). The answer to the second question is that he would alter with age because these sorts of emotions are inevitable, and the experiences of such emotions would change him as he grows older.
    thanks!

  51. Herb says:

    Frost occassionally wrote on Christian themes, and the “alter with age” ending suggest that this may be such a work. He goes for many years, perhaps dreading a divine call. When it finally comes, he is forced to have to deal with it. That knock offers a promise of eternity, but he is afraid that answering it involves commitment, risk, and involvement with the unknown. So he answers only tentatively, from outside the window. Because it lacks conviction, his answer is found to be wanting. So he ends up rejecting the call and living out a natural life without God.

  52. Lindsay says:

    I wanted to read everybody’s comments to try and form my own opinion for a paper I’m writing, and actually, it worked. I think this poem is about feeling guilty. The knocking on the door is your conscience, pounding on your thoughts, reminding you of your sin. When he blows out the candle, he is trying to hide, to escape, thinking that if he is no longer visible, then the knock will go away, he yearns to be alone and in peace. But, the knocking continues, his last attempt is to escapew through the window, to break free, he finally realizes that there is hope, he is outside of his cage, he seeks repentance, the void is filled.

  53. Zak says:

    I think this poem is about him having someone that wants to be his friend or something but he dose not want to let them in evan though he says they can come in he dosent let them

  54. zak says:

    i like this poem a lot it is awesome (‘_’)

  55. Shauna says:

    I think that this poem was about someone who had experienced a tragedy. When something happens in your life,let’s say a death of a loved one, everyday you wake up and wonder if you are still going to feel the same pain and want so badly for it to be over. When the knock finally came, he had been praying that someday he would be ready to let go of “his cage” of pain.”To hide in the world and alter with age”, he wants to just blend into the world and not carry the weight of this tragedy. The “alter” is how the experience will change him as he grows older.

  56. c.j. says:

    i liked the poem i truley did i hope to some day be wright with words like this and my last name is also frost that is so cool!

  57. sam says:

    frost poety relects the anger and the fear of someone leaving you alone for many years which brings people to grief.

  58. dun says:

    it seem to me that rebort Frost in this poem is trying to say is that people are lonely sometimes and they want people to come visit them but they never do but when they do they really dont know how to act because they havn’t seen someone for years

  59. Heidi Ward says:

    This poem is obviosly about Robert Frost getting old and how he cant escape death. E-mail me if you think different.

  60. Jaime says:

    This poem may be about a person who is very introverted and nervous, someone who avoids society and is very guarded; the knock represents conflict with these characteristics, maybe he is being forced to get out in the world for whatever reason. The blowing out of the light signifies that he is trying to disguise himself, remain unnoticed. The tip-toeing could be that he is testing the waters. The prayers…asking God for direction. The knock comes again which is Gods answer–a sign–“GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD”,and get into the world. The fact that he crawls out the window and not out the front door shows that he is still guarded but getting out there.
    So at a knock
    I emptied my cage
    To hide in the world
    And alter with age
    The first three lines back everything I’ve said, but I believe the last line reveals the reason he became detached from society in the first place: he may have experienced a traumatic life changing event which tends to paralyze people.

  61. Liz says:

    i think this poem is about finding love. When you find your one true love sometimes you scared but you know that they will love you. When he mentions the cage I think he is talking about how he came out of his shell and began to develop as a person when he fell in love

  62. Thomas Phillips says:

    I read many comments asserting this poem is about death. It seems to me this poem is about relationships and perhaps Love. More specifically an individual’s almost phobic aversion to Love/relationship. I can see how one would interpret death as knocking on the door but the last stanza where the character “empt[ies] the cage” I see as him abandoning solitude in favor of becoming lost in the masses “to hide in the world”. It does seem like a very literal interpretation but one I think is most reasonable given the text.

  63. Mary Jane Butler says:

    I know several folk who believe in reincarnation, and to them, this poem talks about a soul who has been embodied and has died. It speaks of God knocking to ask the soul to go back to a body, and the soul climbs out the window to see who is at the door. Finally it accedes to the request and is born again, only to grow old again. Not necessarily my point of view, but an interesting one. Other poets who believe in reincarnation include Kipling, who wrote
    “They will come back, come back again
    As long as the red earth rolls.
    He never wasted a leaf or a tree
    Do you think he would squander souls?”

    Probably not an exact quote, but close. MB

  64. t.e.m says:

    This poem is all about death and Robert Frost coming face to face with it.
    “It went many years,
    But at last it came a knock,
    And I thought of the door
    With it no lock.”
    This stanza talks about him getting old. Then one day a knock comes. No knock before had ever came only this one. This is deaths knock at his door. The last 2 sentences talk about the door having no lock. Robert Frost is writing about how you can’t escape death. The door has no lock, so you cant lock death out.
    “ I blew out the light,
    I tip-toed the floor,
    And raised both hands
    In prayer to the door.”
    This stanza talks about how life is being taken away by death. A poet, usually uses blowing out the light, when they are trying to end something, in this case his life. When he prays he doesn’t want it to be painful. It’s almost as if he is asking god to spear him, because lets face it, who isn’t afraid of death.
    “But the knock came again.
    My window was wide;
    I climbed on the sill
    And descended outside.”
    “Back over the sill
    I bade a ‘Come in’
    To whatever the knock
    At the door may have been.”
    This part is about how he is trying to find out what is at his door knocking. I think he couldn’t see it, so in the next stanza he gives in and lets death take him.

    “So at a knock
    I emptied my cage
    To hide in the world
    And alter with age.”
    This last stanza’s significant line is the last one. The “…alter with age,” is basically talking about how he dies with age.

  65. sally says:

    im very undecided about this poem weve been given it for english and many thought have crossed my mind yes i agree with eric it could be about opening up or perhaps a haunted past but aging even seems like a possibility to me

  66. Eric says:

    O yea, it might not show my email address so this is my email address, again let me and you discover the “true” meaning of this poem:
    vampiresamurai@hotmail.com

  67. Eric says:

    Not to be mean or anything, i think some of you just want to see your name on a page so you just put your perspective. Poetry is all about thinking “outside the box,” not to criticize anybody but 3 lines of comment is too less. After the comments that i have read, i have viewed with all your perspective. I must agree, not everyone have the same perspective but i respect the way you people view this poem. At first i really dont get this poem, once i sound out the feeling, it feels like Robert Frost is waiting for something. He did not go out the window, but look down at the window, in fact the window does not exist. It is just the meaning of sight. This “door” mentioned in the poem, i think it means that someone spoke to him- to open his heart. That is because at the end, he mentioned about the “cage.” The cage could be a metaphor of thoughts, feelings, and pain all locked inside. He finally could speak it all out- finally feeling free from the cage. The door with no locks, what i think is that it means that he wanted someone to talk to him, but he doesnt want to begin the conversation. Reminds me of myself when i am nervous, but nah i changed. What I think is that this poem means that a person had opened his heart- could even mean a romantic poem! I wish to have your comments on my email, mail me and speak what you think this poem mean and we may discuss together-:)

  68. Kassandra says:

    Thanks for adding your comments. I understand the poem now. You really like commenting on poems. you had like, 3 of them on this 1 poem. I’d have to agree with you after rereading it and thinking about it’s meaning.

  69. Devin Washburn says:

    To me, this poem represents Frost’s memorys coming back to haunt him. The memorys keep knocking and knocking, so he trys to invite them “inside” to stop the knocking. Yet he can not change what has happend in the past. Therefor, he must learn to ignore them over time.

  70. Kassandra says:

    Robert seems like a lonely guy who no one likes to hang out with in this poem. I don’t know what he was like and I don’t know a lot about poetry, but that’s my interperetation. If I were in that situation, my door wouldn’t be locked either. I don’t know why he climbed out the window. that seems a little wierd to me.

  71. donc says:

    the door with no lock is a metaphor in one of teachings in the new testament…it stands for the soul that needs no lock…philisophically it stands for the free-will…from my point of view a door it’s the empediment between 2 mediums…exterior and interior…a lock at the door would block the communication between the mediums…it’s an optimistic poem about communication in a sympatic and parasympatic way…one has to deal both with himself and with others, too…this relates this poem with the road not taken too..i think that frost chose to deal with himself…it is usually the most difficult way…nosce te ipsum…good luck to all the poetry readers!

  72. Chris says:

    This poem is really nice, It is a bit hard to interpret. Some say death is at the door, some say his memories came back to haunt him… He climbs out the window and then says to come in. He wanted to see what it was but did’nt really want “it”, or whatever it was to see him… In the end the knocking continues, the last stanza is the hardest to understand. “I emptied my cage” In the end it is a mystery what was behind the door. Really great poem. I also agree with Elle, great poem great twist to it. No wonder Robert Frost made it!

  73. Elle says:

    This is a great poem, the Lockless Door is the door to your heart. After waiting many years, finally a knock came. I love it when the character puts “his” hands up, as in prayer, and you think that he may be thenking God for the knock, but than it comes again and he decends out th window, what a twist! It gives me a smile every time I read it. Enjoy!

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