Adequacy front page
Stories Diaries Polls Users

Home About Topics Rejects Abortions
This is an archive site only. It is no longer maintained. You can not post comments. You can not make an account. Your email will not be read. Please read this page if you have questions.
Emily Dickinson #735
Upon Concluded Lives 0%
There's nothing cooler falls-- 0%
Than Life's sweet Calculations-- 33%
The mixing Bells and Palls-- 0%
Makes Lacerating Tune-- 33%
To Ears the Dying Side-- 0%
'Tis Coronal-- and Funeral-- 0%
Saluting-- in the Road-- 0%
c. 1863, 1945 33%

Votes: 3

 Robert Frost: a damn geek.

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Feb 27, 2002
Frost was way intorverted, and didn't want to admit it, and ran into all kinds of problems because of it. But he was a damn good poet, do the truth came out anyway. It's almost enough to make me really like him. Well, I his love poetry, especially the sonnets.

I had something else really good to say about this, but I forgot. Sorry.


More diaries by elenchos
So shaken as we are, so wan with care,
Oh! I'm in such inner conflict and turmoil! Oh!
Stories I'd like to see:
To the management:
K5 and Adequacy at War: the escalation continues.
I don't know enough history to write it, but...
Is this a troll?
Has anyone heard of a book called...
Draft for a WTC joke.
I feel terrible.
You know...
One of my nutty English papers.
Terrorist or freshman?
Why I write nothing but non-fiction.
'My dog barks..'
As I'm sure you can imagine...
Giftmas break calendar.
Win fabulous /. Moderator Points in this exciting contest!
You know...
Meta crap...
The Artist...
Don't waste your time reading this.
Who knew?
Paging Dr. Science, paging Dr. Science...
Damn them.
Robert Frost's "Directive"


The speaker of "Directive" is the Robert Frost we know well. He gives us a scene that he has looked at in a way no one else does and seen things that no one else sees. The ghost town "made simple by the loss of detail" (2-3) is dazzlingly rich. If, as Frost habitually does, we were to conjure up a fully-fleshed intent behind this simple condition, perhaps we would guess that a scene of scraped land and "forty cellar holes" is more than enough grist for Frost's mill, and anything else would call for poetic fireworks that would overshadow his theme. This poem is an insightful allegory on the Grail symbol, made strange by Frost's characteristic subversive and introverted nature.

Frost offers to be our guide, but warns us that he is a guide "who only has at heart your getting lost"(9). It is as direct an admission as you could ask for, although he usually offers others nearly as unmistakable. For example, in "The Wood-Pile," after announcing that he is "so foolish as to think he knew what" a small bird thinks, he goes on to guess at both the bird's motives, and then further on to construct a beautiful but questionable explanation for why a woodcutter would abandon a cord of wood in the middle of nowhere ("The Wood-Pile," 13).

This speaker seems a little less stable than that of "The Wood-Pile," having taken the introversion of "Aquainted with the Night" to the extreme of permanance, apparently. He seems to have been hanging out here alone too long. The image of the young trees "think[ing] to much of having shaded out a few old pecker-fretted apple trees" is charming, but it ispires no more confidence than the promise of getting you lost ("Directive," 28). Next a whole world comes alive: someone is coming home from work on this road, in our guide's imagination, and he just happens to be able to think up the nature of this zone between two villages, usefully evoking the special character of the borderland. Frost is like some town nut, hanging out in the in-between spaces, lurking to watch the children play, and even stealing the "Grail" from them. The paranoia is a nice touch too, having to hide the magic treasure from them that would conspire to steal it.

But all this can be seen in a more positive light. Frost's "directive" is that to save yourself, you must lose yourself. It is another way of saying that you must give up everything, or forsake the world, not so crazy or singular an idea at all. The glacier-grooved ladder-like road is also like a ladder to heaven, if the Grail and New Testament references are to be taken seriously. If so, Frost is presenting salvation as a world turned upside down, again, not a terribly unconventional take on Christian sprituality. The 'real' town is "no more a town" and the 'real' house is "no more a house," but the pretendhouse is a "house in earnest" (5-7, 48). This play house gets its water from the very source, a gentle spring, rather than a tempestous stream at the bottom of a valley, where only tatters are carried along, second-hand truth.

This guide who was going to mislead you is kind of on to something: the Grail is in fact very near the source, being Christ's own drinking cup. It then makes perfect Frostian sense to metamorphose the Grail to a lonely spring, one in a borderland, that you have to get "lost" to find, in a place appreciated only by children, fools, and madmen. Grace could have been nothing but a landscape for Frost; he speaks in a language of landscapes, and so it is: a "watering place" where you "drink and be whole again beyond confusion" (61-2).

So he's not so crazy after all. Except that the Grail is broken, and that odd admonition to "pull in your ladder road behind you"(37). Maybe this only means that this truth is available only to those who are ready to comprehend it, "as Saint Mark says" (59). Maybe, but wasn't that the reason why the Grail was hidden? Frost wants to be alone for other reasons; he has real problems connecting with other people. We find this expressed in nearly all of his poems. In his love poetry, it is endearing. We expect lovers to be a little bit ridiculuous, after all. But in his 'wisdom' poetry, it can strike the wrong note. It's good to warm to this poet, to like him, but one has to worry too, just a little bit.


I like Frost. (none / 0) (#1)
by tkatchev on Wed Feb 27th, 2002 at 10:03:31 AM PST
It's almost as if he isn't writing in English -- his works have that rhythmic lightness that is so incredibly hard to achieve in the English language.

Very good.

Peace and much love...

Me too. (none / 0) (#2)
by hauntedattics on Wed Feb 27th, 2002 at 06:43:34 PM PST
That last line is amazing.

It's too bad that most Americans only know 'The Road Less Travelled,' and that usually only in the context of some cheesy, sun-soaked inspirational poster.

I figured you would like him. (none / 0) (#3)
by elenchos on Wed Feb 27th, 2002 at 07:25:40 PM PST
On technical grounds he is above reproach. It's often said that Frost wrote more 'perfect' sonnets than anyone in the 20th century. It's the content that has problems. I almost always subverts himself in some way. It gets old.

I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments are owned by the Poster. The Rest ® 2001, 2002, 2003 The name, logo, symbol, and taglines "News for Grown-Ups", "Most Controversial Site on the Internet", "Linux Zealot", and "He just loves Open Source Software", and the RGB color value: D7D7D7 are trademarks of No part of this site may be republished or reproduced in whatever form without prior written permission by and, if and when applicable, prior written permission by the contributing author(s), artist(s), or user(s). Any inquiries are directed to