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To Earthward

Robert Frost

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To Earthward
2002-04-22
Added by: Ryan Plank
This is an excellent poem showing both the "sweet" and "bitter" sides of love. Frost uses excellent examples to display these tastes of love including roses, honeysuckles, and grape vines for the sweet, and bitter bark and clove to represent the bitter.
My take on "To Earthward"
2003-02-18
Added by: Damien
This poem expresses the passions and joy of love. But he is also expressing the bitter sweet nature of love and that many of the tender aspects of it hurt the most, but even with all of the pain, he wants it the most FROM that person, heaven-sent at the outset, something that's desired again.

For example, in the fourth stanza it is the One rose’s petal, not the stem and thorns of many roses, that causes the most pain and leaves its mark. Now, he “craves the stain” of That petal, that tenderness, however painful. He is left “scarred” FROM HAVING had a taste of it, FROM HAVING touched it just with his “hand.” Still, it is not enough, he can handle the pain. He would like, not just his hand, but his whole body (being) immersed in the experience. While in his youth, he lived on air and now he wants the full earth upon him he would want to live with the pain and pleasure of this love's experience

He can breathe it (air), taste it (bitter bark), smell it (musk, honeysuckle, burning clove), feel it (love at lips, hand stiff sore scarred). He would want to experience those feelings fully and FROM head to toe (length), FROM the elation of love's first kiss to the decline INTO death, FROM being alive up on air to under earth and soil.

It is meant to remind someone about how good the relationship used to be in hopes and desire that the wounds can be mended/ignored and started anew.

pleasure and pain
2004-09-11
Added by: Anthony
This poem seems to be less about pleasure *in spite* of pain, and more about pleasure *as* pain, pain as pleasure. After all, the speaker does not "crave the stain of tears" so long as there was a happy experience before it. Rather, he craves the tears themselves, "the aftermark of almost too much love," not the love itself. That is to say, to use another example from the poem, the image of a rose petal that stings the skin upon contact only comes into focus when one presupposes that "now" the rose's *thorn* stings the skin by piercing it. And it is this pain that is real. This pain that the speaker desires.

One must also consider the fact that the poem does not end with a halcyon image of someone sitting in the grass, enjoying a nice, cool breeze, only then to get up to find his hands "stiff and sore and scarred." The poem ends, instead, with simply the scars, stiffness (which may well be linked to another sort of erotic "hardness"), and soreness; the poem ends, that is, not with the speaker's acquiescence to the "roughness" of the earth for the sake of its smoothness. It is only the roughness in itself for which he longs; the roughness of the earth, which he wants to feel--as he rises from it "stiff"--with all of his "length."

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