Robert Frost: The Telephone Frost Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :



The third and fourth lines of the poem emphasize the idea of silence and separateness.

There was an hour

All still From the above lines it becomes clear that the poem is describing a particular moment or an important short space of time. This fits in well with the idea of the poem as an epiphany. The first action occurs when the poet leans against a flower and hears a voice.

When leaning with my head against a flower

I heard you talk.

This is a fantastic idea and it also forms part of Frost's mystical way of writing about nature. The poem requires a certain 'suspension of disbelief' if we are to penetrate to its deeper meaning. "One can respond to such poems...only by suspending one's reasonable awareness of what flowers can and cannot do." (Nitchie, W. Page 87) sense of nostalgia and longing is also created in the above lines. Diction and the use of language also play a role in the creation of this mood of longing and nostalgia. The language is plain and the use of words carefully controlled and unostentatious.

The poem continues to develop another characteristic of Frost's poetic style - the use of natural speech patterns through intimate dialogue.

Don't say I didn't, for I heard you say

You spoke from that flower on the window sill-

Do you remember what it was you said?'

'First tell me what it was you thought you heard.'

The sense of the strange or fantastic that the flower as a telephone represents is juxtaposed with a real situation as if an ordinarily telephone conversation is taking place.
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It is this combination of opposites - between nature and technology and isolation and contact - that creates the central mood of the poem.

The symbol of the flower is again clearly related to nature through the reference to a bee. But at the same time this natural image is combined with the image of the telephone.

Having found the flower and driven a bee away,

I leaned on my head

The final lines of the poem create an atmosphere of longing and the desire for contact. The poet carefully constructs his words and phrases to indicate both the difficulty and the desire for communication.

A listened and I thought I caught the word

What was it? Did you call me by my name?

or did you say

Someone said "Come" -- I heard it as I bowed.'

'I may have thought as much, but not aloud.'

"Well, so I came.'

By using questions like "what was it?" The poet implies a sense of uncertainty and distance which adds to the overall mood and tone of longing and isolation. In essence the poem is about communication or the need for contact and intimacy. On one level it can be read as a simple poem about this need for contact. On another level the poem is an epiphany or a symbolic statement about the universal need for communication and a deeper intimacy between nature and humanity or between people and the world around them.

Bibliography

Bidney, Martin. The secretive-playful epiphanies of Robert Frost: solitude, companionship, and the ambivalent imagination. Papers on Language & Literature; 6/22/2002;

Nitchie, W. Human Values in the Poetry of Robert Frost: A Study of a Poet's Convictions.; Duke University Press, 1960.

Sources Used in Documents:

Bibliography

Bidney, Martin. The secretive-playful epiphanies of Robert Frost: solitude, companionship, and the ambivalent imagination. Papers on Language & Literature; 6/22/2002;

Nitchie, W. Human Values in the Poetry of Robert Frost: A Study of a Poet's Convictions.; Duke University Press, 1960.

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