Robert Frost, American symbolist: an interpretive study.
Cook, Charles Henry
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The aim of the present study is to discuss the sense in which Frost may be termed a symbolist and to demonstrate the validity of the symbolic approach in the interpretation of individual poems and of the poetry as a whole. Frost's artistic premises show that he advocates art for wisdom's sake, not (like most "Symbolistes") art for art's sake. He is a symbolist in the Emersonian or American tradition. In Frost's earliest works, the two dominant symbolic themes are the "withdrawal" and "sic transit" motifs. The dominant symbols are the dark wood (complicated and dynamic in implication) and miscellaneous emblems of mortal decay. North of Boston seems a conscious reaction from the subjectivity of the earliest works toward a gregarious opposite. The introductory poem, "Mending Wall," introduces the symbolic wallmotif which dominates the collection. Mountain Interval and New Hampshire provide the first prominent manifestations of the poet's artistic maturity, but the culmination toward which the early books have been tending seems to arrive in West-Running Brook. Frost utilizes his "constant" symbols to emphasize man's sense of weakness in an inimical universe. The human response to this condition is treated symbolically in the poem "West-Running Brook." The black stream, symbolizing the universal course of mortal decay, is met by a strange resistance in itself, a resistance which kicks up a white wave in the contrary direction. [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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