Winter 1984 • Vol. VI No. 1 Nonfiction |

Separateness and Solitude in Frost

Human beings do not go hand in hand the whole stretch of the way. There is a virgin forest in each; a snowfield where even the prints of birds' feet is unknown. VIRGINIA WOOLF "His poems make me so mad," confesses a colleague of mine about Robert Frost. She has read the poems for years, with attention and thought, yet her anger comes from the feeling that they elude her or, more accurately, exclude her. I think she is right about something central in Frost—the way the poems push away, peel off, walk out into the swamp away from the town. They are often poems of a solitary figure, and their cramped geography and harsh climates are the terms and limits of a life which Frost acknowledges, swings away from, returns to. His region can be, and often is, cramped, impoverished, silent, deserted, full of ruins, and without easy beauty. Think of the cold swamps, the burned-out houses, the snowy fields, the cellar holes "closing like a dent in dough." His landscape with its stoney walls

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