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Frost Commentary: “A Considerable Speck” Question Commentary

Alicia Wei

2. How does the poem use structure to bring about the development of its ideas? The overall structure of the poem is significant. This is because the structure of the poem, begins with a large stanza, which represents the chaos and confusion that the speaker feels about his life. However, as the poem progresses, the stanzas become more focused and compacted. This then represents the gradual understanding the speaker has for his life. Ultimately, this adds to the development f the poem’s ideas by leading to the introspection of himself and his life. The rhyme scheme allows a sense of control to be instilled upon the poem. When added added with couplets, the poem creates a sense of security of the speaker. Ironically, he speaker is actually feeling extreme turmoil on the inside, as if he has no control over his own life. The meter within the poem is one of iambic pentameter. However in lines 18 and 22, there is a break in the iambic pentameter. This is significant because it creates a sense of hopelessness. Notice how line 18 ends with “die” and line 22 ends with “accept.” This is significant because it emphasizes the hopelessness and disparity of the speaker. The speaker feels like he himself, is dying; however, he has to accept his predicament in order to continue moving on.

“And I had idly poised my pen in air” (line 4)

“To stop it with a period of ink/ When something strange about it made me think” (lines 5-6)

“To express how much it didn’t want to die” (line 18)

1. What is the key subject of the poem? If there is more than one, is there a relationship between them?

Frost Commentary: “A Considerable Speck”

Alicia Wei

“But unmistakably a living mite” (line 8)

The main subject of the poem is the mite. The mite is introduced through the title as an oxymoron. The mite enters the author’s seemingly idle train of thought and creates an increase in the pace of the poem with the fear that the mite evokes and the sense of curiosity of the speaker. The second main subject of the poem, is the speaker and his ability to control the fate of the mite. When the speaker first sees the mite, he is surprised and curious. But he dealt with the mite with what he deems as intelligence and curiosity. Instead of killing the mite first off with his superior power, the speaker observes the mite and anders about it’s understanding of life and death. This then leads to the introspection that the mite causes the speaker to think about. This also refers to the delusion that people have that they react to situations logically, when in reality they are mostly influenced culturally to react that way. The relationship between the speaker and the mite are further developed. The speaker has the ability and power to end the life of the mite. From the mite’s point of view, it is still alive, but does remains in a deathlike stillness because the mite is incapable of processing the best method of escaping death. As a result, the mite is left to the hands of the speaker, which furthers their relationship as a powerful entity and a minuscule speck. Ironically, the mite causes deep introspection within the speaker about the futility of life.

“Plainly with an intelligence I dealt” (line 15)

“I let it lie there till I hope it slept” (line 29)

13. How does the progression of the ideas contribute to the development of the theme(s)?

Frost Commentary: “A Considerable Speck”

Alicia Wei

“To express how much it didn’t want to die” (line 18)

The progression of the ideas within the poem is developed through the theme of futility and fate. The mite changes from a scurrying speck to one that stayed still because it realizes no matter what it does, it’s fate lays in the hands of the speaker.

The mite is originally a very lively individual, striving to find a way off the paper with the wet ink. However upon scurrying to every “It faltered: I could see it hesitate;/ Then in the corner of its little world and realizing that it middle of the open sheet/ Cower down in was surrounded by wet ink, the mite cowers in desperation to accept/ Whatever I accorded it fear because it realizes that it has no way of of fate” (lines 20-23) escaping. This then furthered the theme of futility and fate because the mite’s future is within the hands of the speaker. The poem then progresses to the speaker’s introspection, which then leads to the theme of fate. The speaker recognizes that he himself has a mind, and is capable of thinking for “I have a mind myself and recognize/ Mind himself. He recognizes the capability of when I meet with it in any guise” (lines 30-31) thought from the mite, which is what hinders the speaker from ending the mite’s life. This further develops the theme of fate through the emphasis that the mite’s continual life was the result of the speaker’s forgiveness. 6. How would you describe the tone of the poem? Are there any shifts in tone as the poem develops? “And I had idly poised my pen in air/ To stop it with a period of ink” (lines 4-5) The poem begins languid and slow. The speaker seems to be bored and tired of his current predicament. This tone creates a very slow mood at the beginning of the poem.

The tone the shifts into the fast pace “And then came racing wildly on again” (line desperation of the mite to escape the paper. 12) This is a stark contrast against the languid tone that the speaker begins the poem with.

Frost Commentary: “A Considerable Speck”

Alicia Wei

“It ran with terror and with cunning crept” (line 19)

The tone then shifts into one of mild terror from the mite’s point of view. The mite is now trying to survive and fears its own death. This shift in the poem is also starkly contrasted against the original fervor of the mite. The speaker also creates a satire against the blindness of society. He is referring to our willingness to accept any form of power collectively without questioning the logic within the order. Frost is creating a satire against humanities complacency and the society that is controlled by the media.

“Collectivistic regimenting love/ With which the modern world is being swept” (lines 25-26)

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