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Robert Frost Poems Birches and Into My Own

Updated on August 24, 2012

Famous Poets' Poems - Poems about life - Poems of Margaret Atwood

Robert Frost - the singer of nostalgia
Robert Frost - the singer of nostalgia

Birches – The famous poetry by Robert Frost

Robert Frost is the singer of sweet nostalgia and longing. Robert Frost’s deceptively simple poems often explore the relationships between human beings and nature. Even though he focuses on ordinary subject matter, his emotional range is deep enough to cover passionate expressions of life. Many of Robert Frost poems illustrate the deepest sense of nostalgia and longing of the speaker. He often relates nature with the longings of human beings. Robert Frost’s celebrated poems "Birches" and "Into My Own" include this theme of longing. Both these poems wonderfully depict the wildest longings of human beings. In both of these poems, the speaker expresses his longing in a cyclical cycle, which never quite fully satisfies his desire. "Birches" presents this longing through the swinging imagery of the trees and the speakers longing to be a boy again, symbolizing a cycle of longing, from youth to old age and back again. The speaker, even though he desperately desires to throw himself out of the truth of his adulthood, wants to return to the world of realities. The poet uses wide variety of literary devices to present the strange thoughts of the speaker. Excellent application of symbolism paints the expressions of the speaker who is in a dual state of being. Robert Frost’s "Into My Own" presents a similar longing of the speaker. Here the speaker longs for something beyond life. He longs for something more than what he has. The speaker presents his longing in a cyclical way where he seldom finds his desires satisfied. In this poem also the poet uses symbolism to illustrate his points.

Robert Frost Birches Analysis – theme of longing

The first word that would appear into a reader's mind while dealing with the poem Birches is ‘longing’. Every picture in the poem reflects the longing of the speaker for something which he missed somewhere. Each and every image in this poem pertains to this longing. The image of the child playing with the Birch, the image of the swinging movements that moves forward and backward, the image of the snow painting the trees white, all images mirrors the nostalgic longing of the speaker. This is very much evident in lines 41 – 42. There we find a note of longing “So was I once myself a swinger of birches. / And so I dream of going back to be (Birches).” Here we find the poet longing for the simpler and happier days of his childhood. This reveals his frustration about the adult world. He describes the adult life as ‘pathless wood’ and expresses his desire to return to the world of his childhood. The act of swinging on birches expresses the poet’s desire to escape from the tough realities and hard rationalities of the adult world, at least for a brief moment. Poet longs to go back to his carefree childhood days. As the boy is climbing the tree, he is climbing to heaven, which is the world of free imaginations.

Birches by Robert Frost
Birches by Robert Frost

Robert Frost Birches study notes

Robert Frost Birches summary

The narrator explains that climbing a birch is an opportunity to “get away from earth awhile / And then come back to it and begin over (Birches).” A swinger is still grounded in the earth through the roots of the tree as he climbs, but he is able to reach beyond his normal life on the earth and reach for a higher plane of existence. Poet includes the speaker’s longing and says that swinging on birches is no longer bringing him peace. Speaker feels that his longing for childhood will never be satisfied as he cannot escape the real world of his adulthood. Being an adult he can never withdraw from his responsibilities and climb to heaven. The speaker understands that he cannot become a child unless he starts a fresh life on earth. He is not able to enjoy the image of the boy who is swinging in the birches. He is forced to acknowledge the reality concerning the birches. Birches are bending because of winter storms, not because of the climbing of the boy. The speakers longing to leave the rational world and enter an imaginative world is found to be inconclusive. He desires to climb to heaven as a young boy, at the same time he wants to return to the earth. He desires to go and come back. The speaker has a strong desire to enter the imaginative world, but the truths of the real world are not letting him go. The freedom of imagination is certainly alluring and appealing, but he is helpless to free himself from the realities of his earthly life. His responsibilities in the world are making him stick to the real world even though he desires to escape to the imaginary world. The speaker understands the painful reality that his escape to the imaginary world is just a temporary one. The poem thus expresses the poet’s longing for the past, which would never come back. The poet gets exhausted finally that he desires to lay down his life. This is evident in the end of the poem, “It’s when I’m weary of considerations,/ And life is too much like a pathless wood [...]/ I’d like to get away from Earth for awhile/ And then come back to it and begin over (Birches).” The poet desires to escape from the world and at the same time desires to return to it.

Robert Frost Birches symbolism

Symbolism in Birches and Into My Own

Robert Frost deploys symbolism to present the images used in the poem. The symbolic image of aging birch trees illustrates the images of a child who is growing to his adulthood. The depiction of these images enables readers to view the reality of the real world, which is compared to the carefree childhood. Initially in the poem we find the image of life that was filled with difficulties. Later we find the use of images to present the speaker’s longing to revert back to the cheery times of his childhood. The language of the poem is carefully positioned through the use of images. Robert Frost makes use of natural symbolism to express the longing of the speaker who desired to escape the trouble-filled world and enter a heavenly dwelling. In the beginning of the poem we find images of life, aging and death. The first three lines of the poem give the image of childhood and adulthood. “When I see birches bend to left and right Across the lines of straighter darker trees, I like to think some boy’s been swinging them (Birches).” Childhood is symbolically represented as the speaker believes that the swinging of the branches is caused by a boy climbing on it. Adulthood is symbolically explained through the image of the straighter darker trees. The speaker was once a birch swinger and cherishes those memories. The birch trees symbolically show life and it is used as the speaker’s means to escape from the world of harsh realities and truths. The concept of bent birch trees symbolizes life and the speaker’s denial of the real world. He desires to escape to an imaginary world and at the same time likes to return to the real world.

Into My Own by Robert Frost
Into My Own by Robert Frost

Poetry of Robert Frost Into My Own

Longing in Robert Frost Poems

Into My Own analysis

Robert Frost’s "Into My Own" also includes the strange longings of the speaker. The poem is divided into four quatrains, each quatrain containing a specific part of the story. In the poem we find the speaker desiring for a life which is beyond his present state. In the latter quatrains we find how the speaker achieves his aims. We find the way he expects to react to his findings. The poem is about a boy’s longing to leave home and finds his own identity. The very title "Into My Own" shows the child’s longing to explore himself. This allows his transformation from a child to an adult, a mature individual. He searches for a place where he can be himself. He not just longs for an identity but a space. We find the speaker’s feelings about a line of "dark trees" which he sees. He desires the trees to be extended to the edge of the doom. The second quatrain tells the reader that he would "steal away" and that he revels in the notion of never again finding "open land or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand (Into My Own)." The third quatrain is ironical. Here, though, the speaker says that he doesn't see why "those should not set forth upon [his] track to overtake [him], who should miss [him] here, and long to know if [he] still held them dear (Into My Own)." Here we find that the speaker is young and he is connected more to his family. The speaker finally understands that he will not be able to change even if he leaves home. He returns to his original state like the speaker in “Birches”

Nature in Robert Frost Poems

Forest in Robert Frost Poems

Robert Frost Poems Analysis

Trees symbolize borders in Frost’s poetry. Trees not just show the boundaries of the earth like that between a pasture and a forest. It rather symbolizes the boundaries between heaven and earth. In “Birches,” trees show a link between earth (humanity) and sky (divine). Trees also represent boundary spaces, where a connection between heaven and earth is possible. The strange longings of the speaker in the poem make him move beyond the present realm. Like “Birches”, “Into My Own” also includes the images of forests that represent some boundaries. Trees acts as borders between different human experiences. In these poems we find that the speakers considering these trees as a link between earth and heaven. This link between earth and heaven encourages the longings of the speaker. When Frost’s speakers reach the edge of a forest or climb a tree, they reach some kind of boundary, a border line between earth and heaven. Out of their longing to reach a heavenly world they cross these boundaries. This helps speakers to communicate with nature and feel moments of revelation. Getting the right revelation makes the speakers desire for a return to their present state.

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    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Such an insightful hub. There was much I did not know about one of my all-time favorite poets.

      By the way - the baby in your profile picture is absolutely beautiful.

      Voting up

    • dhannyya profile image
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      dhannyya 5 years ago

      thank you shininggirisheyes for your comment. happy that you appreciated the hub..

      nice to see the comment on my baby..he is John..1 year old

    • profile image

      iiii 4 years ago

      goood

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