Reading Poetry – “The Bereft”

The “Bereft”, by Robert Frost, describes a man who felt trapped in the shadow of solitude where he has “no one left but God”. The poem is composed of 16 lines with 5 stanzas each, and has a rhyme scheme of a-a-a-a-a, b-b-a-c-c, d-d-d-e-d, e. The poem started with this first two- lined question: “Where had I heard this wind before/ Change like this in a deeper roar?” This meant that the speaker has become keenly aware of the sounds of his surroundings due to his solitary life. The last three lines in the first stanza quotes: “What it would take my standing there for, / Holding open a restive door, / Looking downhill to a frothy shore? “He wonders if he made the roaring wind curious of him, standing there alone, looking at the shore.

The couplet “Summer was past and the day was past. / Sombre clouds in the west were massed”, was used metaphorically to describe his fading youth. The trouble of old age is embracing him, fearing death (symbolized by the sombre clouds). As he stepped on his “porch’s sagging floor” which indicates despair, he also felt that he is being attacked with the panic brought by the hissing leaves. He portrays the leaves as attacking animal like snake.

The rhythm of the poem has a sorrowful and haunting tone of grief. The whole scene (roaring wind, clouds amassing in the west, and the hissing and striking leaves) is threatening or “something sinister” as the speaker described it.

The last 6 lines of the poem tell that the speaker’s secret (being alone) was out, which is causing all the sombre and sinister activity.

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