Comparison and Contrasting the Poetry of Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg Term Paper

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poetry of Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg

Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg are both important poets in their own right. Although they both grew up in the same era, their poetry styles have many differences. The paper firstly states their different origin, history and poetic style. Secondly, it analyzes a selected major work - "The Road Not Taken" and "The Road and The End," - of Frost and Sandburg respectively. It is worth noticing that the chosen poetries of both poets contain many elements of similarity. This makes the chosen sample most suitable to distinguish the most minor, as well as the major differences in the poetic styles of the writers. Thus, in the paper, their lives and poetry styles are compared and contrasted using an example of their poetry.

About Robert Frost

As we read of Frost, we grow in awe of him - his thinking, his understanding, his feelings, his intellect, and his expression. Each poem strikes a chord somewhere within us, bringing us closer to life and making us appreciate the simple pleasures that life offers. He helps us see the wonders of nature in birds, flowers, fruits and streams.

Each poem is like a journey of life's self-discovery. The jewels of thought that are found embedded among the seemingly simple poems are so profound, that they catch a person off guard. The depth of feeling and wisdom, with a way with words that hits at once and lingers long afterwards too, gathers wider meanings and interpretations.

About Carl Sandburg

The nationally acclaimed poet, lecturer, biographer, and folksinger - Carl Sandburg, (6 Jan. 1878-22 July 1967) - provided broad and enduring insight into the worth, circumstances, and spirit of the 20th century American people. He fervently excelled for those who did not speak for themselves due to lack of words and power. He was quickly established as the poet of the American people, narrating their songs, stories, and proverbs; pleading their cause; jubilating their spirit and vernacular; and commemorating the divided experiences of the shared national lives of Americans.

Sandburg left without a college degree with an appetite for reading and writing poetry, encouraged by his first noteworthy mentor, economist and poet Philip Green Wright. Wright initially published four Sandburg leaflets: In Reckless Ecstasy (1904), Incidentals (1907), The Plaint of a Rose (1908), and Joseffy (1910). However, Sandburg received no significant affirmation as a poet until his poetic career was launched through the publishing of six of his poems in the March 1914 issue of the landmark Chicago journal Poetry: A Magazine of Verse. This marked his first major success, and led to a series of acclaimed works.

Sandburg sized himself up in the preface to Complete Poems:

All my life I have been trying to learn to read, to see and hear, and to write. At sixty-five I began my first novel, and the five years lacking a month I took to finish it, I was still traveling, still a seeker.... It could be, in the grace of God, I shall live to be eighty-nine, as did [the Japanese poet] Hokusai, and speaking my farewell to earthly scenes, I might paraphrase: "If God had let me live five years longer I should have been a writer."

Analysis of Robert Frost's "The road not taken" close look at the poem reveals that Robert Frost's walker in "The road not taken" encounters two identical paths and so he insists, repeatedly. As if the reader has not got the message, Frost repeats himself for a third time. What, then, can one make of the final stanza? According to my perception, Frost - the wily ironist - is saying something like: "When I am old like all old men, I will make a myth of my life, pretending, as we all do, that I took the less-traveled road; But I shall not be telling the
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truth." Frost indicates the mockingly self-inflated tone of the last stanza by repeating the word "I," which severally rhymes with the inflated word "sigh." Frost intends the reader to know that what he will be saying - that he took the less traveled road - is a fraudulent position, and thus the sigh.

For the large moral meaning which "The Road Not Taken" seems to endorse - go your own way, as I did; take the road less traveled and it will make all the difference - does not uphold itself when the poem is looked more carefully at. Then one notices the insistence of the speaker on admitting, at the time of his choice, that the two roads were "really about the same," in appearance, that they "equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black," and that choosing one rather than the other was a matter of impulse. It was not possible to speak about it any more clearly than to say that the road taken had "perhaps the better claim." However in the final stanza, as the tense changes to future, a different story is heard - one that will be told "with a sigh" and "ages and ages." At that unspecified place and imagined time, the voice will have nobly simplified and exalted the whole impulsive matter into a deliberate one of taking the road "less traveled":

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

What makes it something un-boring is the mischievous aspect of "The Road Not Taken," for there is little in its language or form, which signals an interesting poem. But that mischief also makes it more than a "sincere" poem, in the way so many readers have taken Frost to be sincere.

The Road Not Taken," is perhaps the most famous example of Frost's own claims to conscious irony. It is the "best example in all of American poetry of a wolf in sheep's clothing."

Analysis of Carl Sandburg's "The Road and The End"

In the poem, "The Road and The End," Sandburg talks about the Americans and their way of life. Just as the Americans took the hardships brought about due to the Great Depression, the character of Sandburg in this poem takes it and goes along with it; unstopping, pressing onward, like any and every American. Sandburg went through a number of hard times - two wars and the Great Depression - but he never stopped. He just kept on pushing towards the goal, which was waiting for him at the end of a tunnel.

Sandburg provides an image of a tireless traveler, and narrates all that a traveler can see as he walks down the road. These sights depict the then prevalent situation in America. The striking feature in the poetry is the fact that despite realizing hopelessness in almost all that the traveler sees on the way, his belief in the blessed end for the right path gives him an ever-increasing determination to keep walking on.


Robert Frost - " The road not taken"

The poem has been understood as an assertion of individualism, with a slightly mocking satire on a perennially hesitant walking partner of Frost's who always wondered what would have happened if he had chosen their path differently.

The poem leaves the reader wondering as how much all implies difference, given that the "roads" already exist, such that the possibilities are limited. The exhausted possibilities of human experience reduce great regrets over "the road not taken" or bravado for "the road not taken" by everyone else.

Furthermore, the poem does raise questions about whether there is any justice in the outcome of one's choices or anything other than aesthetics, being "right," in ones moral decisions. The poet's impulse to individuation is mitigated by a moral predicament of being unfair or cruel, in not…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Carl Sandburg

Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered. William Pritchard. 1984

Frost in Columbia Literary History of the United States. Ed. Emory Elliott

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