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Home Burial by: Robert Frost

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Kaitlin Hoagland

on 25 January 2015

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Transcript of Home Burial by: Robert Frost

Works Cited
Frost, Robert. "Home Burial." The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 8th ed. Boston: n.p., 2008. 1130-1132. Print.
After reading the poem and examining the title again, I feel that my initial guess of the title being ominous was correct. However, I see that
Home Burial
refers not only to the child's burial, but could also be referring to the burial of the husband and wife's home and marriage together. At the end of the poem, we don't know if the wife stays or not, so their marriage could have easily ended afterwords.
He saw her at the top of the stairs, before she saw him. She began to step down, but soon looked past her shoulder at some fear.../He rose to her and said to buy a little time with her, "What is it you see," and her face went from frightened to dull.../She let him try to look, although she knew he couldn't see, poor blind thing; but then he lightly spoke, "Oh," and repeated, "Oh..." She said, "Tell me what it is."
"I never noticed it from here before...," he said, "So small the window frames the whole of it.../But the child's mound--." She backed away from him, quickly descending down the stairs away from his arms. "You make me angry," he said, "A man can't speak of his own child that's dead-." "You can't because you don't know how to speak. If you cared even a little, the one who dug his grave--his little grave, with your very hands?.../You sat there with the dirt on your shoes from your own child's grave and spoke only of your daily concerns.../You couldn't have cared the slightest!.../I need to leave--anywhere away from this home. How can I possibly make you--." The husband then spoke, "If--you--try!" She had opened the door even wider. "Where do you plan to go? Answer me. I'll follow you and drag you back by force if necessary. Ill do it!--"
Overall, this poem shifts from being ominous and suggestive in the beginning, to obvious frustration and disappointment at the end. During the poem, Frost writes using iambic pentameter while occasionally shifting to blank verse mid poem to change the mood between the wife and husband.
Ex: lines 18-20
Ex: line 32
The attitudes that appear frequently in the poem are anger, confusion, misunderstanding, and disappointment. As the wife and husband try to communicate with each other over showing grief for their dead and buried child, the anger, confusion, and disappointment become apparent. As the husband is consistently confused about his wife's apparent anger and disappointment, they soon grow further apart trying to understand one another.
Home Burial
by: Robert Frost
A Prezi by: Kaitlin Hoagland

Before reading the poem the title, Home Burial, to me gave the impression of a rather ominous poem. I assumed that the poem would be about a murder in someone's family, or an accidental death that happened in the home.
This poem seems to be addressing the theme of how humans respond to death and emotions. We know that death is unavoidable and happens to everyone, yet we still experience extreme sadness when we lose a loved one. Humans crave comfort and understanding from one another during times of grief; however, if we're with someone who can't provide these needs, we almost instantly feel angry and want to separate from that person.

After reading this for the first time, to me, it seems as though the husband understands his wife is grieving over the child’s death, but he can’t understand why she upset that he is not grieving to the same extent as she is. So, I don’t think he’s being insensitive intentionally. The wife seems to be rather wise, and realizes that her husband is not acting like a doting or grieving husband, as he should in the time of their child’s death. I think Frost has immediately geared us as readers towards sympathizing with the wife.
By having the child’s burial within view from the stairway, I think the couple has definitely suffered negatively. It is a constant reminder for the wife of her husband’s apparent lack of empathy towards her sorrow, as well as the husband’s inability to understand his wife and the fact that he couldn’t save their child. I feel that the child’s grave is more of a cause of the argument between the couple. I feel if it were a symptom, then the wife would have left sooner.
page 1130, lines 27-29. The husband gives an eary description of gravestones on a hill visible from their home that belong to three of his family members. This gave me the impression that the husband is accustomed to having members from his side die quite often, and even very young.

pages 1131-1132, lines 78-81. The wife is able to give us a clear visual on what she saw through the window the day her husband buried their child. She saw a careless, brute of a man that couldn't seem to care whether he was burying a stranger, or burying one of their own flesh and blood.
page 1130, line 25. "So small the window frames the whole of it." The window plays a key role as I saw it as a symbolic reference to the wife being able to see the truth about her husband and his lack of compassion that she is yearning for.

Throughout this poem, the main literary device and sense of rhythm used is iambic pentameter. One example is lines 48-51. When spoken aloud, the use of stressed syllables following unstressed syllables can be heard. By using iambic pentameter, Frost seems to make the poem appear more dramatic and serious when spoken aloud.
Considerations for Critical Thinking and Writing
Considerations pt. 2
By splitting the Iambic Pentameter in lines such as 18 and 19, 45 and 46, Frost brings the reader back to the tension between the husband and wife. They try to communicate, but the split shows readers that their communication has been all but futile in light of their child’s death.
I felt that by the end of the poem, the conflict was not resolved. The wife had left out of frustration, while we’re left with the husband’s unfinished sentence of having asked for her to stay. Unless the husband can learn to understand the exact reason why his wife is upset, I don’t think they will overcome their differences. As much as they want to understand and believe in each other, neither of them can escape the fact that their child is buried, and it has caused them great grief and conflict.
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