Frost’s poems deal with man in relation with the universe. Man’s
environment as seen by frost is quite indifferent to man, neither hostile
nor benevolent. Man is alone and frail as compared to the vastness of
ROBERT FROST’S THEMES
Such a view of “man on earth confronting
the total universe” is inevitably linked with
certain themes in frost’s poetry.
One of the most striking themes in Frost’s
poetry is man’s isolation from his universe
or alienation from his environment. Frost
writes in“Desert Places”, “The loneliness
includes me unawares”. Man is essentially
alone, as is borne out in frost’s poetry.
Frost is not so much concerned with
depicting the cultural ethos of New England
people as with presenting them “caught up
in a struggle with the elementary problem
of existence”. The New England of Frost
reflects his consciousness of “an agrarian
society isolated within an urbanized
world”. Man is alone in the countryside or in
the city in “Acquainted with the Night”.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of
When far away an interrupted cry
--------------------------------------------------But not to call me back or say good-by;
In “Home Burial”, the lady suffers from a
terrible sense of self-alienation, as well as
alienation from her surroundings. And, more
than the physical loneliness, man suffers from
the loneliness within.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.
A concern with barrier is the predominant
theme in Frost’s poetry. Man is always erecting
and trying to bring down barriers-- between man
and environment, between man and man. To
Frost, these barriers seem favorable to mutual
understanding and respect. Frost insists on
recognizing these barriers instead of trying to
tear them down as in the modern trend. And he
even builds them wherever necessary.
Practically all of Frost’s poems depict
the theme of human limitation. The universe
seems chaotic and horrific because man’s
limited faculties cannot comprehend its
meaning. Walls, physical and real, mental and
invisible, separate man from Nature.
“Neither Out Far Nor In Deep” shows man’s
limitation concerning the mysterious
universe. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy
Evening” conveys the sense of an impenetrable
and indefinite universe. Frost’s human beings are
aware of the gap between the ideal and the
actual. The apple-picker had set out on his work
with great hopes, but faces disillusionment.
For I have too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
In some poems, however, Frost does indicate
that man can exceed his limitations in his
thought as in “Sand Dunes”.
Theme of extinction or death also runs
through the major themes of Frost. In many a
poem he writes of “sleep” which is associated
with death. “Fire and Ice” is a noteworthy
poem on destruction by excess of desire or
hatred. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy
Evening”, “After Apple Picking”, “An Old
Man’s Winter Night”, all these poems have a
reference to death.
“Directive” is a poem in which three of Frost’s
themes isolation, extinction and the
final limitations of man are blended. Each
life is shown to be pathetic because it wears
away into death. The poem dismays but it
In most of Frost’s poems, the speaker
undergoes a process of self-discovery. The
wood-chopper of “Two Tramps in Mud
Time” realizes by the end of the poem that he
chops wood for love of work only but love
and need should not be separated.
Theme of affirmation is also found in some
of his poems. Frost ultimately presents the
need for man to make the most of his
situation. Aware of man’s limitations, he yet
desires man to explore and seek knowledge
and truth. Man should learn to accept things
and his limitations cheerfully. He suggests
stoical will and effort in the face of adversity
as in “West Running Brook”.
In the face of the mystery and riddle of life
there is necessity for determined human
But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I Sleep
And miles to go before I Sleep
Theme of love is central to Frost’s poems. If
there is any force that can help man meet the
challenges of the universe, it is love. In several
of Frost’s poems, the significance of love
between man and woman, or friendly love is
brought out. It is when love breaks down or
fades off that life becomes unbearable
especially for the women in Frost’s poetry.
The major themes as discussed above are
expressed through various devices. The
symbolic significance invested in certain
recurring objects like the stars, the snow, the
woods serve to bring home to the reader all
the more vividly the position of Man in the