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Robert Frost’s “Out, Out”: An Explication

“Out, Out” by Robert Frost expresses a kind tragedy which involves a young life and a broken dream. The title itself creates an impression that the poet wants to emphasize something which needs to escape. This is implied in the first few stanzas of the poem especially in the opening line: “The buss saw snarled and rattled” (Frost 136 Line 1). It suggests a certain urge of an animal-like creature to get out of captivity. The saw is personified by the speaker in way that it appears to possess a mind and desire of its own. The poem is told in an outdoor setting where the sent of dust and view of mountains and sunrise are very vivid.

In the next few lines however, the poet focuses on the heaviness and immensity of work through his choice of language which demonstrates the physical load of the handler of the saw has to bear. A boy who is staged as the captor of the saw is the focal person of the poem. The manner in which the persona talks about the boy in the poem suggests that the boy has a certain relation to the speaker’s life. The poem has a free verse form since it contains no uniform rhyme and no single pattern. It contains internal rhymes in ten meters per line. As it concludes, the poet describes how the day ended and the time for supper arrived.

The poet never fails to be inanimate in his choice of words as he described the saw to act as if it knew what supper meant. His description leads to the lines, “the saw […] leaped out of the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap […]” (lines 14-15) which imply the foreboding pain and death the boy is going to suffer. Towards the end, the focal point of the stanzas diverts from the saw to the boy’s response such as a “rueful laugh” which entails that the boy actually had no idea what was going to happen. The speaker makes it clear though that doom is indeed coming as he describes the saw to “keep the life from spilling” (Frost 137, line 21-22).

The line, “Don’t let him cut my hand off” (25) poses an impression that the boy did not actually expect for death to truly envelope him and he still did hope. However, it was too late as because in the lines, “They listened at his heart. Little-less-nothing! ” (31-32), the poet suggests that death has indeed ensued. Aside from the tendency of death and suffering to be sudden, the poem also expresses that a man’s work is for a man, not a man who still has a playful and curious mind. Work Cited Frost, Robert. “Out, Out. ” The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems. Ed. Edward C. Lathem. New York: Macmillan, 2002. 136-137.

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