The shattered water made a misty din.
Great waves looked over others coming in,
And thought of doing something to the shore
That water never did to land before.
The clouds were low and hairy in the skies,
Like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
You could not tell, and yet it looked as if
The shore was lucky in being backed by cliff,
The cliff in being backed by continent;
It looked as if a night of dark intent
Was coming, and not only a night, an age.
Someone had better be prepared for rage.
There would be more than ocean-water broken
Before God’s last Put out the Light was spoken.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem Once By The Pacific


  1. suzy johnson says:

    How in the world would anyone do or need an analysis of Robert Frost poem (s).
    He can’t say it clearer. He said what it means and it’s not about anything other than the subject.

    • Sidda Hayes says:

      Don’t read poetry if you aren’t open to interpretations. You clearly don’t understand his work.

    • Tim McGrath says:

      Good point, suzy johnson. Most good poems are transparent. I am, as Susan Sontag said, “Against Interpretation.”

  2. Oscar Mace says:

    The hubris of humans is not “in the gleam of eyes” of a creator; moreover, no “dark intent” could be in the eyes of God. And for the irreverence shown by Actaeon’s lack of humility for the glory of nature, Artemis transformed him into a stag and his light of life was put out.

  3. Jennifer Black says:

    the poem is not about global warming like people think! this poem was created in 1928!

  4. GrrrFactor28 says:

    i thought the poem was about the great flood because it talked about water and how someone had better be prepared for rage (Noah)

  5. Amanda McHansen says:

    This poem really signifies th epower of nature!

  6. taylor says:

    the poem is a sonnet about the end of the world

  7. scott says:

    “Put out the Light” is a famous line from the Shakespeare play “Othello.” Othello speaks these lines just before he kills his wife, who he feels (inaccurately) has betrayed him. He believes that only by killing her can her “innocence” be restored.

  8. Geogia says:

    i really like this peom it feels so real.

  9. George says:

    What would you say this poem is… Lyric? Sonnet? Free verse?

    • Andrew Davis says:

      count the number of lines
      7 rhyming couplets
      How many syllables per line
      accent pattern weak strong seven times in every line
      Frost liked the “old school” form of poetry, saying “free verse was like playing tennis without a net”

  10. Quilty says:

    Frost was born in San Francisco and lived here until he was 10 years old. This poem has always been special to me because it evokes a child’s fear of fog, wind, and waves here on the penninsula. It expresses a child’s fear of the unknown and of the night.

  11. Dan says:

    I really like the allusion that Jackie brings up about how god putting out the light is the opposite of god saying let there be light. I believe that this poem is a metaphor for the human race and how we are too proud to help each other out, so we fight wars to prove how strong we are. However, mankind is all the same even though we strive to be different and to stand out from the crowd we are all one and though we should tread our own paths it is always good to have someone to fall back on. Therefore, if we keep fighting wars then the end is closer that we suspect. The locks that cover the eyes is propaganda that is used to cover the true evil of war. Robert Frost does all this by alluding to the natural process of nature and how water erodes the cliff, but thankfully there is so much land that it will take forever for land to be completely wiped out; however, at this rate it is sooner than we think. The night of dark intent is a storm clud (a third party) that speeds the process along. All in all this poem is pessimistic and it is supposed to be a very succinct wake up call saying work together!

  12. Kari says:

    I chose to analyze the poem for a class assignment and I believe it is open to many interpretations. For instance I looked at it from the stand point of a woman who has been deeply hurt by someone she loved and trusted and now has a growing sense of rage as she dwells. She is coming to a breaking point and points this out with a menacing tone. She may take revenge or simply have a confrontation.

  13. Ryan B. says:

    I think this poem has very deep meaning. As you read it over and over you can not tell what Robert Frost is trying to point out. Is it just about how powerful nature can be? Or just about the possibilities of nature? I think not. The last line of the poem says “before god’s last ‘put out the light’ was spoken” Put out the light is the reversal of “let there be light.” I think what Robert Frost is trying to say that god created (let there be light,) so god has the power to destroy (put out the light.) Robert Frost could have had deeper meaning as to why he should express these thoughts, but that is beyond me, maybe he thinks that we should all follow the man who has the ultimate power of nature, because he has the power to kill us all, or maybe he’s trying to point out that we should live life to the fullest because god can end it. I personally didn’t know him so I do not know.

  14. soy soy says:

    i thought this poem meant that eggs being eaton by peeps was pretty radical 🙂

  15. steven says:

    I may be a late comer to this, but as look at the poem it seems to evoke the furious energy of nature, and a combination of ambviilence towards the vastness and/or agelessness of natural forces, and a sober consideration of its end

  16. Heather says:

    I at first thought the poem was about the end of the world and human life but then it came to seem that the wrath of the oceans had once killed a happy person and broken their life.

  17. Ryo Ogawa says:

    When I analyzed this poem, I did not see it in a religious point of view. My interpretation was that this poem suggested a deeper meaning than just waves crashing against the shore. It felt as though the waves were entertaining thoughts of “doing something to the shore that water had never done to land before”. I read the tone as ominious and strongly hinting toward Apocalypse. This is only my interpretation.

  18. Jackie says:

    I thought this poem was about the power of nature. The water has the ability to erode and to destroy. The stormy weather seems to suggest that the wateris almost conspiring to attack the shore. But it cannot because it is luckily backed by a cliff. There is also a biblical reference “Put out the Light” is a reversal of “Let there be light” In Frost’s poetry he reflects an ambivalence towards nature. This poem conters many traditional American writers like Whitman who worship nature. Nature is not always good. It can also destroy.

  19. Tony says:

    This poem is not about God sending down his wrath. It’s about god protecting us and saving us for the evil that’s about to come. It’s like his telling us that he is not going to let us go untill it is time and it’s not time for us to all die.He is giving us hope and joy to still live and go on. that’s what this poem is about.

  20. Courtney says:

    I perceived this poem as being a wrath that God is having, about the world comming to an end.

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