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Birches

Robert Frost

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Meaning
2002-02-20
Added by: Summer Wiggins
This poem describes Frost's growth from a young "swinger of birches" to an old man contemplating the meaning of death and eternity.
An essay I wrote on this poem
2002-04-04
Added by: Michelle
This is a great example of standard Frost style and content. It discusses life and death, good and evil, and gives the reader a mellow feeling, without answering any of the questions it asks.
Frost's tone is, as usual, somewhat reminiscing, wistful, and tired. "Birches" discusses memories of childhood and the various trials and tribulations of adulthood. The wistful quality of the poem reminds the reader of some of Frost's other poems, such as "The Road Not Taken" and "Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening."
Frost contemplates his childhood and the ease and simplicity of it. He discusses the weariness many adults feel near the end of their lives and their wish for rest, as in "Apple Picking", another of Frost's works. Frost's regular images come into "Birches" as well, including the central image of nature and its simplicity.
At the beginning of the poem, it seems as though there are many fegerences and comparisons to childhood. The birch trees could be representative of human lives. When we are young, we are tall, strong, and unbent, but as the years and storms go by, we become bent and tired by experience. Once we are bent, like the birch trees, we can't go back to where we used to be. We must bear the knowledge and experience gained in our lives- there's no turning back. As well, in the beginning of the poem, the ice-storm could be a metaphor for life. The ice coats the birch branches, making them pure and innocent, covered by a protective shell. Frost uses gentle imagery and words when describing the shells of ice; when the sun comes out, however, and the branches shed the ice, it's like people awakening from the dreams of childhood to the "cold reality" of adulthood. As soon as the shells are off, Frost uses harsher terms to describe the scene: "heaps of broken glass" and "dragged to the withered bracken." These images represent the disillusionment of young adults as they throw off the comfortable protection of childhood and venture out into the world. Frost also describes the "rude" interrupions of logic into dreams. "Truth broke in" to his thoughts of an idyllic childhood. This could represent the knowledge which comes with growing up and how we can't escape it. Perhaps ignorance is bliss.
Near the end of the poem, Frost compares life's trials and tribulations to branches and cobwebs in a wood which cling and whip a person's face as he or she journeys through them. Frost talks about how he would like to return to the innocence of his childhood, but knows that it is impossible unless he dies and returns again as a child in another life. Frost seems to discuss a type of contrast in this issue; he'd like to rest for a while, but he still wants to be able to come back because he loves the world so much. "Earth's the right place for love: I don't know where it's likely to get better", but Frost's tired, and wants to rest.
Frost also refers to the "black branches" on the "snow-white" trunk of the birch. This could be a reference to the black-and-white world that many children seem to see, which seems to be much simpler than the shades of grey of the adult world. The birch seems to be the ladder towards heaven that Frost seems to want to climb, maybe in reference to Jacob's Ladder of the Bible.
For the narrator, it seems as though a perfect life would be a lot like climbing birches as a child. One journeys up with the black and white, child's perspective of life, symbolized by the colours of the branches, and reaches into heaven, only to come down again at the end of life, able to start anew, an innocent child untouched by the worries or ice-storms of the world.
2002-04-30
Added by: Darek
I believe frosts comment one could be worse than a swinger of birches means that in my opinion one could be worse than someone who gets enjoyment out of life. I interpreted the poem to be the ice storm are the hardships in life and the boy swinging on the birches as things that also wear you down in life but are also interesting and joyful. You are the birch tree and you have 2 ways of leaving either as someone that the hardships of life lowered you or as someone who got the most out of life and were just exausted from your activities.
Birches by Robert Frost
2002-07-02
Added by: Israel Cohen
See an off-the-wall deconstruction of this poem at
http://addendum.mit.edu/chomskydisc/birches.html

best regards,
Israel "izzy" Cohen
izzy_cohen@bmc.com
i love it
2002-07-30
Added by: jessica
the truth and emotion of this poem make me nearly cry every time i read it. at the moment i feel very "weary of considerations" and my eye hurts FROM HAVING been lashed across it by other people's twigs. i would love to climb a birch right now, i can't deal anymore. i'll come back down eventually, but i'm so sick of the harshness of reality, the uncaring dreariness of the outside world. i want Beauty. i dont care about anything else right now. Robert Frost--i love him for this poem, for putting INTO words what i feel so deeply.
movie
2003-02-27
Added by: Taylor
the end of this poem is quoted in here on earth the movie. by the actor chris klein.
2003-04-04
Added by: Addy Scott Noballex
I think this is slightly disgusting as there are far too many sexual inuedos in it.
Sexual innuendo?
2003-04-06
Added by: Patrick
Sure, it's true there's some questionable lines in this poem - there's a lot of "bending" going on, Going and "coming" back, etc. That said, I think we can deconstruct almost statement in the modern world into a statement about sex, giving the incedible amount and variation of sexual idiom. Moreover, how does an acknowledgement of the "innuendo" lead to a coherent understanding of the poem? I can't tell that it does. If we say that a few individual lines are about sex, what then is the whole poem about? If we can't resolve those lines within the context of a whole interpretation, I think we must reject the anomalous innuendoes.
In my reading, this seems to be a poem that expresses the all-too-common wish that life was simpler, and expresses admiration for those who experience life simply and passionately; namely, the swingers of birches.
birches here on earth
2003-04-30
Added by: den
i first encounter the pem in the movie here on earth. the poem speak out what is on my mind whenever i see a tree not necessarily birches. climbing a tree and making its branches move up and down gave you a feeling of freedom. you are on your own as if no one can make you stop but yourself. but since we became adult with responsibilities that we think what others may think about the things we do. so we don't climb trees anymore to claim that freedom again that's why we so we just dream of going back to be.
birches
2003-05-07
Added by: tara gaskin
i too encountered this poem in here on earth and it was there that my love for frost began. The very next day i asked my english teacher if he had any material from frost and he provided me with a book and a tape of, i believe, frost reading his poems. Listening to frosts voice alone as he reads the poem totally rules out all thought of sexual inuendo. His voices is raspy. He sounds tired a little bit disillusioned but ever so often when he reminisces about the birches and fantasisies about his "escape" from earth that voice becomes a litle bit wistful, less tired. He allows us to journey into himself. Into his life and into our lives for we are all the same in the sense that we are born we enjoy life innocently as children we are bent by experience and obligations and responsibilities and then we come to a point where we leave this earthly body behind. Frost is brillliant a man to remember

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