Robert Frost’s “Birches” and “A Road Not Taken”

Robert Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874. He moved to New England at the age of eleven and became interested in reading and writing poetry during his high school years in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He was enrolled at Dartmouth College in 1892, and later at Harvard, but never earned a formal degree. Frost drifted through a string of occupations after leaving school, working as a teacher, cobbler, and editor of the Lawrence Sentinel. His first professional poem, “The Butterfly”, was published on November 8, 1894, in the New York newspaper, The Independent.


There are three things that account for Robert Frost’s poetry. In his poems he uses familiar subjects like nature, people doing everyday activities, and simple language to express his thought. His poems are easy to read, but not easy to understand. Almost all of Frost’s poems are full of subliminal messages. He easily says two things at the same time. An example of this is in one of his most popular poems, “The Road Not Taken.” Everyone is a traveler, choosing the roads to follow on the map of their continuous journey, life. There is never a straight path that leaves one with, but a sole direction in which to head. Regardless of the original message that Robert Frost intends to convey, “The Road Not Taken”, leaves the reader with many different interpretations. It is one’s past, present, and the attitude with which he looks upon his future that determines the shade of the light that he will see the poem in. In any case, however, the poem clearly demonstrated Frost’s belief that is the road that one chooses that makes him the man he is.


The poem, “Birches”, evokes all of the senses. Whether it is the rhythmic flow of the poem or the mere need to recite the words for a clearer understanding, the images that flood the mind are phenomenal. Frost, while knowing the realistic causes behind the bent birch trees, prefers to add an imaginative interpretation behind the bending of the birches. He also uses the entire poem to say something profound about life. The message that Frost implies is that life can be hard and people can lose their way, but there will always be innocence, love, and beauty in the world if people look for it.


Frost shows the relationship between nature and humans. In “Birches”, he talks of the trees and sunny winter mornings (line 7). He also speaks of the sun’s warmth, and how it melts the snow (line 10-12). In the first section of the poem, Frost explains the appearance of the birches. Frost wants to believe that the branches of the birches bend and sway because of a boy swinging on them. Here again, frost is connecting nature with mankind. However, Frost suggests that repeated ice storms are what bend the branches. Frost compares the breaking away of the ice from the trees to the “dome of heaven” shattering (line 13). Initially, the forest scene describes, “crystal shells/ Shattering and avalanching on the snow crust--/ Such heaps of broken glass” (12) that make it seem as if “the inner dome of heaven had fallen (13). Frost also lends sound to his description of the branches as “they click upon themselves/ As the breeze rises” (7-8). This is a spin on the idea that problems and experiences “click” off of people, however, the click is not a snap implying that problems do not break people. Frost further explains the branches bend because of the ice, however, they do no break. This can also be compared to life because many people have problem and frustration. However, they do not break under life’s enduring tosses and turns. These passages help connect the natural and more permanent structure of the birches to life and mankind. By comparing them to living beings, he shows that life flows through all things.


Frost uses simple words to describe complicated ideas, feelings, and conflicts. By connecting nature with humans, he personalizes nature therefore bringing it closer to our daily lives. He uses it to further explain the way people think they way they do, or act the way they do. Frost ties