One of the most celebrated and read poets of our times is Robert Frost. One cannot help but think of Frost when talking about some of the greatest poets ever lived, and perhaps the most popular poet in America. His poems are read by kids and adults alike, and there’s a reason for it.
With brilliant poetry structure, beautiful use of rhyming, and the ability to distill complex themes and ideas into short, simple, and easy-to-understand poems, there’s no doubt why Frost’s poems are so popular. His poems give you this comforting, relaxing feeling while evoking something profoundly deep inside you at the same time.
Just like we think of the name “Robert Frost” whenever we hear the word “poetry”, another word is associated almost whenever we hear the poet’s name; “The Road Not Taken”.
“The Road Not Taken” is Robert Frost’s magnum opus. “The Road Not Taken” is so popular because of how it translates Frost’s abilities into words. It has a simple rhyming structure, no use of fancy meters or structure, and the progression of the poem is so simple and linear that it can be read by an eighth grader. Yet it packs such powerful themes and motifs that a university student can write multiple papers analyzing it.
But sometimes the popularity of one poem can overshadow other great poems. So we decided to shed some light on some other great poems by Robert Frost that is as good as “The Road Not Taken”, but these poems did not receive the same attention. We’ve picked 10 of his greatest poems with a simple structure and style, yet with a powerful meaning behind them. Let’s get started.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
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.
Perhaps the second most famous work of Robert Frost, right next to “The Road Not Taken”, “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” is a powerful poem. Calling it a powerful poem would be an understatement. With just a few lines and simple metaphors, Frost delivers such an impactful message and conveys such complex emotions.
The poem can be interpreted in many ways, but all the ways take the same somber path of a man who is struggling with the will to continue. It could be his work, his emotional struggle, or more tragically, his life. The person reaches a secluded place, and the horse is confused as to why they stopped. He wants to get lost in the woods, be in the darkness, away from everyone else.
But the last line shows the strength he has to continue, he has “miles to go” before “sleep”. So he continues ahead. What is the person going through? What is he considering? All these questions keep hanging as we read the poem, and that makes this poem even better.
A Time to Talk
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
Another short and beautiful poem that delivers an even more beautiful message. “A Time to Talk” is about friendship, and how we should value it. The message of this poem is giving relationships priority, and taking out the time to nurture and grow them. In this poem, the narrator is working on something when his friend comes to talk about something important.
Frost says that when such situations come, one shouldn’t look at all the work that’s pending, or what you should be doing next. Instead, one should keep their work as it is, and walk towards their friend, respecting that friendly visit. It is about giving your friends time when they need it.
Into My Own
One of my wishes is that those dark trees,
So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze,
Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask of gloom,
But stretched away unto the edge of doom.
I should not be withheld but that some day
Into their vastness I should steal away,
Fearless of ever finding open land,
Or highway where the slow wheel pours the sand.
I do not see why I should e’er turn back,
Or those should not set forth upon my track
To overtake me, who should miss me here
And long to know if still I held them dear.
They would not find me changed from him they knew—
Only more sure of all I thought was true.
“Into My Own” is very much like “The Road Not Taken”, but instead of the poet asking others to make a choice and move ahead, in this poem, Frost is speaking from the perspective of an adolescent person, who is just about the set out towards the wild world of intimidating yet fruitful possibilities.
The poem is about believing that you can achieve more, be more than what you are today, and become an independent person. It is about taking on the world as a challenge, moving ahead in believing in things that you can achieve, and making a path for others. The final lines say that after this adolescent kid has taken the path, he/she would not change much from what he/she was before, but only be more sure of what he/she knew already. A powerful conclusion to such an impactful, invigorating poem.
A Late Walk
When I go up through the mowing field,
The headless aftermath,
Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
Half closes the garden path.
And when I come to the garden ground,
The whir of sober birds
Up from the tangle of withered weeds
Is sadder than any words.
A tree beside the wall stands bare,
But a leaf that lingered brown,
Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
Comes softly rattling down.
I end not far from my going forth
By picking the faded blue
Of the last remaining aster flower
To carry again to you.
This one is a very interesting poem. “A Late Walk” is a poem that will have a completely different meaning if you don’t read just the last line. This shows the brilliance of Frost’s writing. With just one line, he can introduce so much meaning that it can completely flip it around.
With the rest of the poem, you can see that the poet is taking a walk sometime during summer when nature has aged, and everything beautiful in it is dying. From the “bare tree” to the “sober birds”, the poems tell how dull and unhappy the world has gotten. But this poem has more meaning than just describing a seasonal change.
The last line “of the last remaining aster flower, to carry again to you” completely changes the meaning of the poem, and what the season signifies. This poem becomes a sad tale of someone dying, someone the poet loves a lot. The way everything fades into nothingness, the beauty of nature is fading away, the poet collects the remaining aster flowers to bring back to the loved one. This signifies spending the last moments happily. What a powerful poem, and how beautifully written.
How countlessly they congregate
O’er our tumultuous snow,
Which flows in shapes as tall as trees
When wintry winds do blow!—
As if with keenness for our fate,
Our faltering few steps on
To white rest, and a place of rest
Invisible at dawn,—
And yet with neither love nor hate,
Those stars like some snow-white
Minerva’s snow-white marble eyes
Without the gift of sight.
Anyone who loves to look at the night sky and get “star-struck”, this is the poem for you. Frost, with his brilliant use of metaphors, shows us the stars in a completely different way. He begins the poem by saying how the stars are countless, gathering over our white, snowy clouds. He then says how they are indifferent to our actions, our faltering feet, and they just appear and disappear with time.
The stars above us, and with neither love nor hate they are above us, like Minerva’s snow-white marble eyes, without the power to see, but just guiding us ahead to whatever we want to achieve.
Once on the kind of day called “weather breeder,”
When the heat slowly hazes and the sun
By its own power seems to be undone,
I was half boring through, half climbing through
A swamp of cedar. Choked with oil of cedar
And scurf of plants, and weary and over-heated,
And sorry I ever left the road I knew,
I paused and rested on a sort of hook
That had me by the coat as good as seated,
And since there was no other way to look,
Looked up toward heaven, and there against the blue,
Stood over me a resurrected tree,
A tree that had been down and raised again—
A barkless spectre. He had halted too,
As if for fear of treading upon me.
I saw the strange position of his hands—
Up at his shoulders, dragging yellow strands
Of wire with something in it from men to men.
“You here?” I said. “Where aren’t you nowadays
And what’s the news you carry—if you know?
And tell me where you’re off for—Montreal?
Me? I’m not off for anywhere at all.
Sometimes I wander out of beaten ways
Half looking for the orchid Calypso.”
“An Encounter” is a poem about our nature getting lost in the modern world that we are making. As one might get from Frost’s other poems, he was an enjoyer of nature, and most of his poems borrow metaphors from it. So perhaps seeing the world change at such a rapid pace created a need to write a powerful poem about how difficult it is getting to see nature, and how easily we can encounter our exploits of nature. A powerful poem that tells us the need for keeping nature alive as we expand our cities and industries.
The Sound of Trees
I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.
The Sound of Trees is a poem about action, about how we think of doing and achieving things but fail to put any action into it. Slowly but surely, all we experience is growing old, old enough to not make any move and be still, like the trees.
Frost compares the motion of the trees as “attempts” to move ahead. They sway and move with a desire to move forward, but are always stuck in the same place. He compares himself with the trees and realizes that as he grows old, he is becoming as stationary as the trees.
He then promises to move ahead, explore the world, and not be still in one place. He might not be as wise as the people who stay in one place and gather knowledge, but he shall not be in the same place.
Dust of Snow
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
The magic of Frost is in his short poems. What might sound impossible to many poets, is routine for Frost. Take a look at this poem, “Dust of Snow”. With just eight lines, Frost has brilliantly told so many things, conveyed so much emotion, and given such a powerful message.
The poem is exactly what you read. The poet is having a bad day, and then suddenly a crow makes some snowflakes fall on the poet, which suddenly makes him feel happy, and saves the day from being ruined. It shows how a simple thing about nature can make your day and how you should appreciate the little things in life, which might seem insignificant. This poem is about finding beauty in the things that we usually ignore.
Bond and Free
Love has earth to which she clings
With hills and circling arms about—
Wall within wall to shut fear out.
But Thought has need of no such things,
For Thought has a pair of dauntless wings.
On snow and sand and turf, I see
Where Love has left a printed trace
With straining in the world’s embrace.
And such is Love and glad to be.
But Thought has shaken his ankles free.
Thought cleaves the interstellar gloom
And sits in Sirius’ disc all night,
Till day makes him retrace his flight,
With smell of burning on every plume,
Back past the sun to an earthly room.
His gains in heaven are what they are.
Yet some say Love by being thrall
And simply staying possesses all
In several beauty that Thought fares far
To find fused in another star.
“Bond and Free” is a poem that puts two things against each other; love and thought. Frost says that while love is bound to earth and every little thing about it, thoughts have “dauntless wings’ ‘ with which they can travel wherever it wants to. Nothing is holding it back, whereas love is held back, bounded by the walls on earth.
While Frost first favors thought, as the poem progresses, we get to see that even staying here on earth, being clung to different things rather than continuously wandering off to different places is what gives love the upper hand, and makes it more powerful.
Fire and Ice
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
If you say that “Fire and Ice” is perhaps the greatest short poem ever written, you’d have many people agreeing with you, including us. This simple yet utterly powerful poem of just 9 lines hits you like a train. The casual nature with which Frost talks about the destruction of the world, and his disinterest in it is truly baffling. Him choosing how the world should end is like ordering coffee.
But as with all other poems, “Fire and Ice” is so special because of the powerful concepts and ideas it encapsulates in such a small passage. Frost puts two things as the probable cause of the world ending; desire (which is represented by fire) and hate (represented by ice). Both are very capable and sufficient to destroy the world. These two vices will be the end of us, and that is what Frost is trying to convey through this poem.
So that was it, the 10 great poems by Robert Frost that are as good as “The Road Not Taken”. Tell us which one is your favorite poem by Frost and why. Also, if you liked this article, you’d love to read some related articles such as: