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Robert Frost Overview
Robert Frost is considered one of the “most popular American poets of his time.” He won
the Pulitzer Prize for poetry four times. Congress also voted him a gold medal, in
“recognition of his poetry, which has enriched the culture of the United States and the
philosophy of the world” (Costello 543). The poem “Birches” was first published in 1915
(Thomason 18). In Robert Frost’s “Birches,” the theme of reality vs. imagination is
discovered through images of bent birches, symbolism of a boy swinging the trees, and the
tone of words used.
The conflict of reality vs. imagination is explored through images of bent birches. Reality
is depicted as birches bending and cracking after a freezing rain from the ice that was left
behind. Frost let’s the reader know that this is reality in lines 3-4: “I like to think some
boy’s been swinging them. But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay.” He tells the
reader the real reason of what bent the birches in line 5 when he states “Ice-storms do
that.” In the next six lines, Erica Smith notes, “we are inclined to view the ice storm
negatively because Frost has used it to refute his hoped-for explanation in line three”
(Smith 20). A couple of lines later Frost gives us an insight into how reality is:
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves.
The birches are dragged to the floor and they don’t break. The situation is that after they
are kept down for a long time they can never be straight again. They are permanently
stuck in this “bowed” position.
We can compare these three lines to our lives because reality is that although we have
problems we don’t “break” or fall apart every time a problem arises. There is a point in
lines fifteen and sixteen because when we have a huge problem that makes a big impact ...
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