Explication: Briches By Robert Frost Essay, Research Paper
Explication: Briches By Robert Frost
“Birches” is a poem that is interesting enough to give more than one reading. Robert Frost provides vivid images of birches in order to oppose life’s harsh realities with the human actions of the imagination. “Birches” has a profound theme and its sounds, rhythm, form, tone, and figures of speech emphasize this meaning.
“Birches” provides an interesting aspect of imagination to defy reality. Initially, reality is pictured as birches bending and cracking from the load of ice after a freezing rain. “They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed So low for long, they never right themselves”
Frost is saying that reality has its ups and downs. This section suggests that people never fully recover from being dragged down by life.
Imagination is portrayed as “a swinger of birches.” The portrayal of the boy refines this image: “One by one he subdued his father’s trees By riding them down over and over again.” The boy seems to take in lessons about life from these encounters with the trees on his father’s land: “He learned all there was To learn about not launching out too soon.” This boy lives away from town and must play by himself. The poet is saying Imagination is the gift for escaping reality that each one of us possesses. That’s why the narrator advocates using imagination. On Earth we can become weary from life’s everyday occurrences; the “pathless wood.” The narrator imagines climbing the birch tree “Toward heaven”–to the top and swinging a branch down to the ground. Suddenly he sounds relaxed and carefree. Isn’t this better than the villain “Truth”?
“Often you must have seen them Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning After a rain.”
This passage begins the visual journey through the woods. In this journey, the poet wants the reader to see the birches as they really are in a series of pleasant images. Part of the realism comes from the sound of passages like this one: “They click upon themselves As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel. Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells Shattering and avalaching on the snow crust”
Frost’s alliteration–here the repetition of /z/ and /s/ and /k/ sounds–lets us hear as well as see the birch trees after a freezing rain. The /k/ sound in “crack” and “crazes” mimics the sound of the ice in the breeze “shattering” and crashing “on the snow crust.” It also imitates the crunch of snow under the weight of boots. The /s/ and /z/ sounds suggest the rising breeze–his use of /s/ sounds increases as it rises. These sounds also suggest the scratch and swish of birch branches scraped on the crust.
These sounds contribute to the tone, or attitude, concerning “Truth,” or reality. The upheaval caused by the breeze and the sun’s warmth portray a shattered, uncomfortable feeling. Life is full its peaceful ups; however, it also consists of shattering downs.
Initially, the forest scene describes “crystal shells Shattering and avalanching on the snow crust– Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away.” The words “shattering and avalanching” give the feeling of calamity and perhaps fear or sorrow. A disturbance in the universe is suggested by the “heaps of broken glass” that make it seem as if “the inner dome of heaven had fallen.” Since Truth is linked to the ice storm, the speaker sees that the reality is that ice storms have bent the birches.
There is a turning point that informs the reader that the villain “Truth” has come into the poem. The speaker, who was getting whimsical and nostalgic about girls drying their long hair “in the sun,” admits that “Truth broke in With all her matter-of-fact about the ice storm.”
The comforting image of the boy who “one by one . . . subdued his father’s trees” turns destructiveness of reality into art. The boy refines his art of imagination by persistence– “And not one but hung limp, not one was left For him to conquer. He learned all there was To learn . . . .”
This scene is softer than the scene of the ice storms. The theme of the poem is imagination vs. reality, or the boy vs. the ice storm. The frustration of life sometimes makes it “too much like a pathless wood.” After disclosing that he himself has been “a swinger of birches” the speaker confesses that he yearns to return to those days in his imagination to get away from the “shatterings” of life. The last line, “One could do worse than to be a swinger of birches,” sounds relaxed, thoughtful, resolved. After having taken a mental vacation into the forest, the narrator comes back to reality refreshed, and ready to face reality again.
Frost uses several figures of speech to stress certain points in the poem. For instance, Frost gives human qualities to “Truth” in the personification about interrupting. This striking personification tells the reader that “Truth,” or reality, is a major part of the theme for this poem. Similes heighten both sides of the contrast between truth/reality and imagination/memory. The nostalgic image of “girls on their hands and knees that throw their hair Before them over their heads to dry in the sun” begins with the simile-signal “like.” When describing life “like a pathless wood,” Frost uses imagination to depict reality.The last line may suggest that one could end up in a worse life pursuit than being an artist, or a poet.
Birches was an excellent poem that I could read over and over again. I would choose Imagineation over reaility any day, I aggree with Robert Frost “One could do worse than to be a swinger of birches.”