In 1958, when Frost turned 85, his publisher gave a party in his honor and invited Lionel Trilling, a well-known American critic of the time, to be the featured speaker. Trilling shocked everyone by confessing that he had only recently come to admire Frost's work, specifically for its overlooked grimness. ''I regard Robert Frost as a terrifying poet....The universe that he conceives is a terrifying one,'' he announced. After reading the Frost poems listed on the syllabus as well as "Out, Out and "Stopping by Woods One's opinion and reaction to Trilling's criticism is briefly integrated.
"Out, Out - "
by Robert Frost
The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behing the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside him in her apron
To tell them "Supper." At the word, the saw,
As if it meant to prove saws know what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy's hand, or seemed to leap -
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all -
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man's work, though a child at heart -
He saw all was spoiled. "Don't let him cut my hand off -
The doctor, when he comes. Don't let him, sister!"
So. The hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then - the watcher at his pulse took a fright.
No one believed. They listened to his heart.
Little - less - nothing! - and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
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.
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I tend to agree with Trilling, that while I am indeed a Frost fan, I do detect his hidden sense of morbidity or "grimness.'' Frost seems to regard the world as "a terrifying one.'' For example, "Out, Out - " personifies a ...
Two of Frost's poems are briefly used to validate how his thematic messages depicts the world as a grim place and employs a pessimistic tone.