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American Poetry Interpretation Paper - Research Proposal Example

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American Poetry Interpretation Paper

It is quite intriguing to know that the speaker in this poem questions through several inquisitive remarks the need for building walls to his laconic neighbor, but at the same time the speaker takes the initiative every year to let his neighbor know about the wall-building task. Besides that, the speaker also repairs the walls that have been destroyed by the hunters. It is also shocking the way the seemingly peaceful neighbor is described by the speaker 'like an old-stone savage armed' (1914). John C. Kemp explains the irony in this poem as follows:
'Ironically (and there is much irony in this poem), although the speaker complains about his neighbor's unfriendliness, his own susceptibility to subjective vision and his willingness to let his imagination run away with him predispose him also to prejudicial attitudes.' (Kemp, 1979, in Modern American Poetry, 2002a).
It is obvious that "Mending Wall" is concerned with the state of incommunication between the neighbors (Montiero, 1988, in Modern American Poetry, 2002a), but a central theme of this poem is related to the critical spirit of the speaker that echoes some kind of influence from authors like Emerson and Thoreau. Analyzing the speaker's attitude towards his neighbor, Racher Hadas makes the following assertations:

'What he objects to is not so much the sentiment itself as the unwillingness or inability of the other to think for himself, to "go beyond his father's saying."' (Hadas, 1976, in Modern American Poetry, 2002a).

Furthermore, the use of irony, ambiguity, and critical thinking in Frost's poetry can be understood from his remarks in the essay "Education by Poetry" as follows:

'Poetry provides the one permissible way of saying one thing and meaning another. People say, "Why don't you say what you mean" We never do that, we being all of us too much poets. We like to talk in parables and in hints and indirections--whether from diffidence or some other instinct.' (Frost quoted by Raab, 1996, in Modern American Poetry, 2002a).

On the other hand, in "The Road Not Taken" there is a subtle irony hidden through some ambigous lines that many readers fail to understand in their right dimension. The speaker had been faced with the challenge of choosing between two paths that in essence are equivalent ('...Then took the other, as just as fair...', '...really about the same...', '...equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black...' (Frost, 1916)). The final stanza can be interpreted with a deeper meaning that the one that lies in the surface as Jay Parini points out:

'My guess is that Frost, the wily ironist, is saying something like this: "When I am old, like all old men, I shall make a myth of my life. I shall pretend, as we all do, that I took the less traveled road. But I shall be lying."' (Parini, 1988, in Modern American Poetry, 2002c).

Indeed, the speaker chose the "road less traveled" but this doesn't mean that it was in fact the best decision in the long run (Richardson, 1997, in Modern American Poetry, 2002c). For Robert Faggen, the hidden implications of this poem can be found in the fact that 'It parodies and demurs from the biblical idea ...Show more

Summary

The poetry of Robert Frost, specifically represented by the poems "Mending Wall", "The Road Not Taken", and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening", features a pervasive use of irony and ambiguity in the quest of wisdom through critical thinking. Irony, ambiguity, and critical thinking are key features of Frost's poems that are also shared as a common denominator by prominent figures in American Poetry…
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American Poetry Interpretation Paper essay example
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