‘When I was just as far as I could walk
From here today,
There was an hour
All still
When leaning with my head again a flower
I heard you talk.
Don’t say I didn’t, for I heard you say–
You spoke from that flower on the window sill-
Do you remember what it was you said?’

‘First tell me what it was you thought you heard.’

‘Having found the flower and driven a bee away,
I leaned on my head
And holding by the stalk,
I listened and I thought I caught the word–
What was it? Did you call me by my name?
Or did you say–
Someone said “Come” — I heard it as I bowed.’

‘I may have thought as much, but not aloud.’

“Well, so I came.’

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem The Telephone


  1. Trey says:

    I think That Frost got a call from a from a loved one and all his stress was lifted and he felt like a feather and was full of delight.

  2. Jessie says:

    This will go great with a poem paper im writing and im using this poem ‘The Telephone!

  3. Sandra Kishi says:

    To me, the poet walks “as far as I could walk,” because he is infirm: he makes it only as far as the “windowsill,” when his mind and his heart travel on. The flower and the bee, despite any sexual connotations, symbolize his ethereal interaction with nature and a transcendental “oneness.” He longs to join one who has gone on before him, yet, who is paradoxically omnipresent. His faith in a “prime mover” soothes his angst, and, whether or not he proceeds directly following this interlude, he trusts that he will be reunited with his soul mate in buzzing meadows where the power of love dwarfing modern man’s sophistication. This epiphany is not his first on earth although it may be his last. The simplistic banter here hypnotically attracts the reader as the flower attracts the bee. Truly the magic here is not to see, but to feel.

  4. Wm. Blake Tyrrell says:

    A way toward an interpretation of Frost’s 1916 poem begins by considering it apart from its title. Someone walks away from one place to another as far as possible and encounters a time when all is quiet and open to nature. The person leans against a flower and hears the voice of a second person, someone known. The ensuing conversation, “ Do you remember what it was you said?” and the second person’s reply, “First tell me what it was you thought you heard,” takes place after they have been reunited. The first person recounts hearing from a flower the second person calling “me by my name” or perhaps, “Come.” The second person concedes the thought but not its expression out loud. “Well,” that is, in any case, the first person came.

    Read without its title, the poem seems a lover’s cri de coeur for the return of the desired person. This changes, however, when the title is imposed upon the words. Framed by the title, the flower becomes a telephone, a device named from the Greek for far (tele-) and voice (-phone). It is a “far voice,” a “voice from afar,” a voice that goes far and arrives from far away. Thus the reader knows why the first person walked “ as far as I could walk” and why a moment most unnatural occurs: a flower talks, and a wire speaks. But Frost lets his reader go farther to ascertain what kind of telephone. “I leaned my head,/and holding by the stalk.” Imagine a daffodil, a stiff green stalk with a trumpet-like head open to the air and the bees swarming about the first pollen of the budding summer. Frost has in mind a candlestick phone, the kind that mounts a receiver atop a pedestal and has a candelabra-type cradle for the receiver. Craig Sheffer playing Norman McLean speaks to his future wife through one in A River Runs Through It. Early models were built into heavy boxes which entailed leaning over to speak into them. But the image is more than visual. The flower attracts the bee—the person must drive (a stronger action than shooing) it away—to itself for pollination and the production of fruit and another generation. The telephone attracted visitors and through its productivity, changed life in ways apparent from the outset.
    There is another frame. For this, the reader must know the first thing said on a telephone. It may have been common knowledge in 1916. For Frost’s poem to be understood as more than encoded history for the antiquarian, general readers had to know: “Mr Watson—Come here—I want to see you.” Hence, the first person hears something, and refusing to be denied, counters the objection that all the world would mount against hearing a voice from a flower, that is, a contraption: “Don’t say I didn’t, for I heard you say.” We can imagine in these words the shock of Thomas Watson, Alexander Graham Bell’s assistant and engineer, when the “thing” worked. No less astounded is Bell himself. In fact, Frost implies, he does not accept it, believing that the transmission occurred in the longings of his imagination. “I may have thought as much.”
    Bell and Watson were testing a competitor’s machine when the famous moment struck. The more satisfying account, fictionalized in the endearing 1939 biography, The Story of Alexander Graham Bell, has Henry Fonda’s Watson receive the message via the prototype of Bell himself, played by Don Ameche.

  5. albert says:

    I was with my closest friend on an aeroplane once, and we got separate
    seats due to high season when we went back to indonesia from holand
    . I fell
    asleep, and I swore I heard her voice call my name, and I woke up because
    of it. It turned out that one of the flight attendants was serving our
    dinner, and she was only two seats away from mine. I haven’t eaten for the
    whole day, and the meal they served was the first after 28 hours I had.
    When I asked her, she said that she was thinking about my condition at that
    exact same time.

  6. Adriana says:

    This poem is about a husband and wife who had an argument. We can see that the man is angry and he walks off. His wife misses him and wants him to come back. He misses her also and he imagines her telling him to come back through a flower he sees. The flower reminds him of her. The wife was actually thinking of him coming back when she was near a flower. This shows the really close bond that the couple had and there ability to know what the other is thinking even if they are miles apart.

  7. Mary Gonzalez says:

    I think this poem is magnificent and reminds me alot of someone that you may miss from time to time. The excitment of having that special person call is a feeling that you can never explain only feel. You feel light as a feather and relieved yet anxious all at the same time.

  8. James says:

    This poem is about sex. In the beginning, as Frost discusses the distance he has placed between himself and the woman he’s with, he’s discussing the almost mystical state of the verge of orgasm. His eyes are literally shut, figuratively sending him ‘as far as I could walk’.

    The flower is one of man’s oldest symbols for a woman’s genitalia, which is also a key symbol in this poem. The woman is represented in her totality as a flower, or her sexual power, upon which Frost lays his mind, his ‘head’.

    Given the size of the flower symbolically, the bee should not be regarded as such a small insect. Rather, the bee is what prevents Frost from orgasm, what keeps him from releasing himself into the darkness of an utterly ecstatic state.

    It is his lover’s voice that allows him to brush the bee away, and his lover’s voice that tells him ultimately to orgasm, to ‘come’. In the end, he finds himself guided to bliss by path he has taken, by the flower itself, despite his initial attempt to seal himself away through distance and achieve bliss on his own.

  9. Patrick Robbins says:

    Of course, one can only have faith in one’s reading of a poem if one is sure the text is the most accurate available. In this case, though, the text is not.

    1. In line 2, “today” should technically be “to-day,”
    but it’s not that big a mistake.
    2. In line 5, “again” should be “against.”
    3. Line 12 should read “I leaned my head.”
    4. In line 17, “someone” should be italicized.

    Good luck to all,


  10. eva says:

    This poem is about the persona having had an argument with a loved one walking away and distancing himself from her. He then remembers the love he has for her and introduces the idea of mis-communication between the two which has caused their argument to occur. In the end he returns to her because of their strong bond.

  11. Itoko says:

    I must say, despite that it’s confusing, it is a truly heart-borne poem. I’ll have to be honest… It’s kinda weird reading a poem about a guy who’s talking to a FLOWER (In my views anyway), but for it’s theme… Yes, it is about love, though I argue with myself that the actual theme might be about ‘miracle’. In my view, Sir Robert Frost is expressing the small miraculous moments that happen in life VIA nature, as most of his poems are based on. I should know, because when I read this poem, I remembered something similar happened to me.

    I was with my closest friend on an aeroplane once, and we got separate seats due to high season when we went back to Japan from Germany. I fell asleep, and I swore I heard her voice call my name, and I woke up because of it. It turned out that one of the flight attendants was serving our dinner, and she was only two seats away from mine. I haven’t eaten for the whole day, and the meal they served was the first after 28 hours I had. When I asked her, she said that she was thinking about my condition at that exact same time.

    Back to the poem. Based on this experience, I’m thinking that the speaker of the poem had a loved one, and through one those moments, the speaker heard her/his voice through the flower he was holding telling the ‘speaker’ to come. The second last stanza switches to the voice of the speaker’s loved one, who stated that he/she have thought about it, but did not say it out loud. This poem conveys the bond of people of close relationships, how their care and respect (Added with love if you wish) could reach out to each other. The flower, I think, symbolises human nature.

  12. Marnie says:

    I fell in love with this poem the moment I read it. It captures the very essence of the unspoken finish-each-others’-thoughts bond between two people in love. The flower is nothing more than a beautiful excuse to meet.

  13. Kate says:

    I read this as a love poem – the writer has walked far, far from home. While experiencing the peace and solitude of nature he feels the connection with a loved one at home, and that is what makes him return. He playfully pretends he heard the person’s voice, as if s/he were talking to him on the phone (which was a fairly new technology, no?).

  14. IT-ODD-ALIEN says:

    this poem was extremely BORING and Time Consuming. I must not fail to state that I wasted my time reading this… I would certainly not recommend this poem to anyone else except IT-ODD-ALIEN!

  15. Marissa says:

    This is a nice poem and yes it sounds inspiring, but I don’t quite understand it. What exactly is your interpretation of it?

  16. Ella Warlocks says:

    I think it is wonderful! True, oh so true inspiration!

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