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Frost Commentary: “The Tuft of Flowers”

Quotes

Commentary

2. How does the poem use structure to bring about the development of its ideas? The meter within the poem creates a sense of formality. Ultimately, Frost creates a satire on how society prefers individuals to grieve publicly (very discrete, almost as if the individual is not grieving), verses the frustrated and anguished outbreak the grieving individual will show when alone. This is shown through he husband who seems to have taken his anger and frustration of his son’s death out by digging his son’s grave and the wife who is openly grieving and showing her sadness and anguish on the loss of her son. This ultimately furthers the theme of grief and what grief does to the individual through the visual representation on how the grief has torn apart the husband and wife.

“He saw her from the bottom of the stairs / Before she saw him” (lines 1-2)

Within the poem, Frost mostly uses unrhymed iambic pentameter. He does this to emulate speech within the poem. However in lines 18, 44, and 67, Frost breaks the iambic pentameter sentence into two lines. In doing so, Frost visually emphasizes how far the husband and wife have grown as a result of their son’s death. Notice how the break in the iambic pentameter sentence occurred rarely at the start of the poem; however towards the end of the poem, “No, from the time when one is sick to death,/ One is the iambic pentameter sentence breaks occurred alone, and he dies more alone (lines 100-101) closer together. This further represents the increasing chasm between the husband and wife as they seek to understand the mourning process of one another , but fail to do so. This furthers the theme of grief and what grief does to an individual by visually representing the breaking apart of a marriage as a result of the incapabilities of the husband and wife to understand the stage of grief the each other is going through and how they are individually coping with the grief.

Frost Commentary: “The Tuft of Flowers”

“What is it you see/ From up there always? — for I want to know” (lines 7-8)

Frost wrote this poem in a narrative format. In doing so, Frost allows the reader to become entwined within the poem itself as it continues. The narrative format creates the overall structure of the poem by breaking it into various lengths of paragraphs with dialogue from both the husband and wife. The narrative format of the poem then furthers the theme of grief and what grief does to an individual by allowing the characters to describe what has happened to them and why they are in anguish, indirectly to the reader.

4. What kinds of imagery and figurative language are used and to what effect? Frost uses imagery to illustrate the anguish of the wife from the loss of her son. The words used within this line of the poem shows how hopeless the wife feels about her life now. It is as if “dull” has become her standard expression and without her son, her world ha no meaning. Frost uses tone within the poem from the husband comforting the wife to a tone of anger, or frustration. This shows how irritated the husband is of trying to understand his wife’s methods of grieving. In using tone, Frost is also able to convey the unraveling relationship between the husband and the wife. Frost uses metaphor within the poem to relate to grief. In this connotation, he writes as if grief were a room that the wife is currently holding herself in and excluding her husband. This metaphor further emphasizes the growing distance between the husband and the wife through the metaphorical room the wife is locking herself in, resisting change and not accepting that her son is dead.

“And her face changed from terrified to dull” (line 9)

“You make me angry. I’ll come down to you. / God, what a woman! And it’s come to this, / A man can’t speak of his own child that’s dead” (line 68-70)

“Let me into your grief” (line 59)

10. What significant theme is present and how is it developed?

Frost Commentary: “The Tuft of Flowers”

The theme of grief and what grief does to an individual is first shown through Amy, the wife. She “She withdrew, shrinking from beneath his arm/ That is so caught up in her grief that she cannot see past it rested on the banister, and slid downstairs” (lines and communicate with her husband. This creates the 31-32) first instance in which the inability to look past grief and to communicate that grief pushes the husband and wife apart. The theme of grief and what grief does to an individual is furthered through the husband. The husband, has a different way of dealing with the death of his son than his wife. He is also at a different stage of grief than his wife. For the husband, digging his son’s grave was a process that helped him move on. However, the sift remains closed in her own world, unwilling to talk to anyone about her grief. The husband is attempting to understand why his wife is still mourning (it seems like it is still the first stages of grief) over their son, who seems to have been buried a little while back (the mound of dirt over the grave is beginning to even out with the earth). The husband sees himself worthy of receiving an explanation and conversation from his wife because to him, he is no different from anyone else the wife talks to. However in the eyes of Amy, she feels betrayed by her husband because of the seemingly ease he moves on from the death of their child and digs his grave. What Amy does not understand, is that digging the grave is the method through which the husband deals with his grief over the death of his son. It is shown that with grief, comes the inability to understand and look past death.

“Tell me about it if it’s something human. / Let me into your grief. I’m not so much / Unlike other folks as your standing there / Apart would make me out. Give me my chance” (lines 58-61)

Frost Commentary: “The Tuft of Flowers”

The theme of grief and what grief does to an individual is shown through the increasing tension between the husband and the wife (mostly started by the wife). At this point in the poem, the husband has come to terms with the death of his son. He is now in the process of moving on. In contrast, Amy, “You could sit there with stains on your shoes/ Of the who hasn’t talked to anyone about her grief, still fresh earth from your own baby’s grave/ And talk remains in disparity because she is unable to move about your everyday concerns” (lines 84-86) out of it. As a result, she finds the quickness with which her husbands handles his grief frustrating and thus feels betrayed by him. Overall, frost shows that when grief is not properly communicated, it can lead to pent up anger and frustration that can tear a family apart. 14. How does the title contribute to the overall theme of the poem? The title has both a literal and figurative meaning. The literal meaning is referring to the child of the speaker and the speaker’s wife that is buried within the poem and to Frost’s son who is also buried on their family plot. The figurative meaning, refers to the destruction of the marriage, or (if you will) “buried marriage,” as the effects of grief. The title first introduces the theme of grief and its effect on an individual. The title furthers the theme of grief and its effect on individuals. This is seen in the at the start of the poem where Frost depicts the grief beginning to eat up the wife by having her loiter over the window where she can see the family pot in which her son is buried.

“Home Burial” (title)

“Looking back over her shoulder at some fear” (line 3)

Frost Commentary: “The Tuft of Flowers”

The theme of grief and its effect on individuals is also shown through the wife at the end of the poem. At this point, the grief that Amy is holding with her “No, from the time when one is sick to death,/ One is becomes so unbearable that she obtains a alone, and he dies more alone” (line 100-101) pessimistic view of the world, seeing only the negative sides and failing to realize that we are born into the world and die in the arms of those we love. We are never entirely alone. 23. Characterize the actions of both the man and the woman. The woman’s action, are justifiable through her state of mind. Throughout the poem her emotions remain stagnant. She does not seem to move forwards from the death of her son. As a result, at any sign of “She withdrew, shrinking from beneath his arm/ That change, she tries to avoid it. She remains a very rested on the banister, and slid downstairs” (lines depressed character because she cannot see past the 31-32) death of her son just as the husband has. This characterizes the wife as an overly attached individual who is unable to see past other than what is directly in front of her (the grave of her son). The husband is the open character and the only character that is reaching out to try and understand the pain of the other (his wife). The husband is also the first of the married couple to look past the death of his son and move on. This characterizes the man as a strong and open minded individual who recognizes the dangers of dwelling on grief for too long.

“Let me into your grief. I’m not so much / Unlike other folks as your standing there / Apart would make me out. Give me my chance” (lines 59-61)

Through digging a grave for his son, the husband is able to cope with the concept of his death. This “Making the gravel leap and leap in the air/Leap up, characterizes the speaker as a person who does like that, like that, and land so lightly/ And roll back action rather than waiting for action to fall upon him. down the mound beside the hole (lines 75-77) The man seeks to find ways to continue with his life, unlike the wife who mourns and refuses to continue with her life.