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 Robert Frost's poem The Lockless Door

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Robert Frost better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.