Robert Frost is generally viewed as a poet of nature, content to describe milkweed and apple-picking. In fact, much of his fame is based solely on his status as a “folk philosopher. ” Yet, when his poems are analyzed in depth, it becomes apparent that his views on nature are quite complex, much more so than what is usually seen. Frost had a love-hate relationship with Mother Nature. In his personal life, he reveled in the simple joys of farming and being in touch with the earth. However, what he saw on the underside of nature disturbed him. It is a true study in contrasts.
During the time he spent farming in Derry, New Hampshire, working in the fields might have brought him some of the most peaceful moments of his life. Yet, when he turned away from his chores, he realized his world was crumbling around him. His family members grew sick, his child died and, consequently, his marriage grew more distant. As reflective of his personal life, he saw nature as beautiful and full of hope, yet also random and chaotic. To a large extent, this contrast is displayed in his writing. In single volumes of his work, poems of nature’s warmth and grace are mere pages away from descriptions of nature’s savagery.
It is in his writing, though, where he finds a stable middle ground between the extremes. One piece in which he extols the beauty of the earth is “Two Tramps in Mud Time. ” The theme of the poem is that man should follow his heart, leading him to do what he loves best. In the piece, the theme is symbolized by a man chopping wood. Although he may not be the best at what he does, he does what he loves best. The electricity of nature flows through him every time he swings the ax, and that is all that counts. The poem is clearly an autobiographical sentiment. Another of nature’s virtues is represented in “Choose Some thing Like a Star.
The strength of nature and the universe is exemplified by the eternal vigilance of the star. Nature can be strong, even when man is swayed by the mobs. It depicts truth and courage, both of which were highly valued by Frost. On the other hand, there are a great many poems which showed that Robert Frost was less in awe of nature and, instead, fearful of it. One of these is “Design. ” It takes two of nature’s most innocent characters, the moth and the spider, and then finds a tragic randomness in their lives. Why must the moth die? Why is nature so cruel? Frost ponders.
He questions how nature can be so beautiful, yet so full of chaos at the same time. If the world is not guided, we are stuck in anarchy, but if it is, then we are surrounded by evil a chilling dilemma. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” is also in this vein. While a rider sleighs home one evening, he is tempted by the darkness of the woods, As in Hawthorne’s works, Frost suggests that perhaps a mysterious evil lurks in the forest. Although he never declares this outright (also paralleling Hawthorne’s ambiguity), the contrast between the warm light of the city and the cold blackness of the woods definitely alludes to nature’s mystery.
It contains a secret which has a mysterious allure to humans. We continually try to conquer nature, yet it persists in dragging us in. Therein lies the contrast in Frost’s works. Can we, as humans, live in awe of nature’s beauty and still find the comforting stability we crave? Or are we doomed to be enslaved by the chaotic state of nature, never to come to grips with its randomness? This problem is why Frost took up poetry in the first place: to try to find a calm above the storm, where he could appreciate nature for its beauty and its entropy.