“…The woods are lovely, dark, and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”
This was the classic line from one of Frost’s most celebrated poems, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening which I first encountered in grade 7, and thus began my love affair with Frost. Don’t get me wrong, other poets too had their charm, but somehow the depth of feelings to which the poems of Frost touched me, the meaning that they let out for me were by far the most penetrating than the others. I guess because of this passionate intensity with which I approach Frost, my students too, at least a majority of them, seem to inherit my infection.
Robert Frost is infectious; he challenges us to think of contemporary problems, social issues, appreciation of and alignment with nature etc, in such a convincing manner, it seems almost magical. His metaphors challenge us to manifold interpretations, and students just love doing this in class. We had always had a great time interpreting what Frost seems to suggest- the authorial intentions versus the reader response theory.
Be it in a poem like Mending Walls which throw open questions like whether strong walls make good neighbors, to the tussle between passion and responsibility in Love and A Question, or ambition, hopes and regret in After Apple Picking, to name a few, Frost has always thrown questions at his readers. I have found that students tend to reflect on their own experiences and those of society around them, something I encourage, while analyzing his poems. This sets up intense class debates as text-to-life connections often do. So many interesting and unique interpretations have always sprung up; I never cease to be surprised.
Deep rooted irony, dark metaphors, complex autobiographical feelings, glorification of nature’s beauty, social criticism ingested in his poems calls for depth of understanding, but the simplicity of his verses, his straightforward expressions, cleverly crafted lines makes him a joy to read. Hence, every year, his poems stand at the centre of my syllabus, as I am sure it does in thousands of teachers all around the world wherever poems are celebrated.
Download 3 Robert Frost poems extract for IOC below: