Critical Analysis of Birches by Robert Frost


Critical Analysis of Birches by Robert Frost 

“When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay
As ice-storms do.”

To start off the speaker in the poem introduces us to his imagination of a boy swinging on birch trees and bending them permanently.

Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel

In contrast to this, he continues by stating that is not children who play on trees that bend the trees permanently but rather ice storms that when the snow and the ice become too much of a burden for the tree it subdues them to the ground and they can never fully right themselves again.

Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
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:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterward, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

Robert Frost brings into play an imagery of son warming the ice and letting it fall off. These trees and as the ice falls off the trees it looks like the dome of heaven had shattered onto the floor so with this he brings together the imagination of the speaker as well as the harsh realities of winter and although the ice had made the tree suffer with their load. They had also been warmed up by the Sun and it gives hope into that first glimpse of imagination. You had the beginning also he brings in a religious element by talking about the dome of heaven and really let him not be a visual for the reader.

But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
Birches by Robert Frost

Frost also prefer a size truth as a being that is very matter-of-fact in severely nature and something that had deterred him from his original intent of recording this imagination of the speaker in the happiness that he had in his imagination.

I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,

The speaker talks about this boy and the boy in itself brings light to different contrasts and that is one of civilization and cities and towns that most of us live in and the contrast with that is the nature and peacefulness that’s far away from all the societies ideals and things like that.

Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.

With this contrast he wants to exemplify the boy as someone that is very innocent and pure and he wants him to be able to play by himself and let his own imagination as a little boy carry him through whatever he decides to do for fun the reason why the boys innocent is so important in this poem is that it brings a purity to the imagination and really highlights the contrast between joy and reality or darkness and light.

One by one he subdued his father’s trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer.

The poem Birches goes on it introduces a father into the scenario and this father allows the boys to subdue all his trees and bend them until not one is got limp with his play and the reason this is important is the father is not only letting him enjoy his childhood your source but he’s allowing him to grow and learn as he continues in his childhood.

He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.

The speaker states that he had learned all there was to learn about climbing trees and not launching off too soon that he took a dedicate careful consideration when he climbed the chunk of the trees much like we would do as goals in our own minds and trying to achieve those goals that we would do so carefully and with a focus but he said when he got to the top that he would release a lot of that focus and that he would allow himself to be free and happy and he would feet first into the sky and enjoy his whole ride down back to the ground.

It’s when I’m weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood

So as this poem “Birches” evolved you start to get a sense that the speaker is actually an old man. Which again brings elements of the boy and the father and now the old man and he says that he used to be a swinger of birches themselves and he wants to go back to his Childhood and do so once more and it begins to contemplate how life begins to get hard and was much like a pathless wood that you wander through.

Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig’s having lashed across it open.

And he said to ask it life gets harder you begin to feel its harshness and you have twigs breaking across your eye and scratching them and your face is burning and the old man then switches again into another contrast.

I’d like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return.

He says he’d like to get away from that a little while and he alludes to climbing these trees and being useful again as an escape from the harsh realities of life and he also states that he does not want to just go up these trees and climb the height of them without being able to enjoy a ride back down he wants both equally.

Earth’s the right place for love:

That the reason he wants to come back down to earth is that it’s the right place for love.

I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.

He doesn’t know where it’s likely to go better and where this kind of leads is he understands that although it is a beautiful skate to climb these trees and get away from realities of life he understands that there are beautiful things that happen in life and on earth.

 I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.

So the old man the speaker in this poem “Birches” really comes to term with come to term with his entire life. He states that he’d like to go by climbing a birch tree and climb black branches of the snow-white trunk toward heaven now here he really alludes that religious element again and brings in some imagery of colors and contrasting colors at that stating that he’s as black branches to climb snow white trunks and he snow white trunks are what leads him to heaven but again he wants to be able to reach the top and be set back down on earth again because they’d be both good going and coming back. He understands that both reaching heaven or reaching those goals and coming back to the realities of Earth or both necessary to enjoy a full life.

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

The poem ends at the line one could do worse than be as winger of birches in an essence is stating that the culmination of the contrast. Throughout this poem which was used in imagery and contrast colors in words and dictation as well as the whole tone that fluctuates throughout the poem going from light and dark from sadness to happiness really emphasizes the point that life is most enjoyable when you have both light and dark and you go through happy times as well as sad times to understand that making these memories as you go throughout your life is what’s important and that is how you enjoy the fullness of a life


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here