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Analysis of Birches Essay


The poem Birches written by Robert Frost is about a man reflecting on his life and when he was a child and how he wishes he could have that life back. When he was young he could escape life by climbing the birches and be brought right back down by the trees flexibility (1). As he grew up the birches got weighted so much by other conflicts that he cant be brought up to how he used to be and could not escape adulthood and reality.

When I see birches bend to left and right/ across the line of straighter darker trees,/ I like to think some boys been swinging them (1-3). This quote sets up that the speaker is reflecting and with the line But swinging doesnt bend them down to stay (4) he is saying that this boy cannot stay a child forever, the branches will grow up. The things a boy does are not going to impact him as much as what he will do when he is a man. Life is difficult and those difficulties are referred to as ice-storms in the poem (5). Something as large as an ice storm would prevent the birches from standing erect. Ice storms represent the major pressures in life that make it difficult to defeat and through the prospective of a child, life is much easier and the branches are just bent for a short time instead of having cracks and crazes their enamel forever (9). Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust gives a graphic image of how heavy decisions made can have such large consequences (10). Though the decisions are rather large they merely hunch one over and do not kill completely. The tone switches to that of a more playful one when it says Like girls on hands and knees that throw theirs hair/ before them over their heads to dry in the sun (19-20). This line brings the adult decisions back to a childhood level. Line 21 mentions Truth as a female girl that is destroying all hopes of joy that is made by a young child; Truth is very matter-of-fact (22).

Swinging on branches makes the speaker miss what he used to have. I should prefer to have some boy bend them, the speaker is stating that he would prefer to look at life as a child- as he once had (24). When he was young, he did not have to rely on anyone else for his own enjoyment; life was simple and he could enjoy the little things. The boy enjoyed the simplicity so much that took pleasure in playing with him. Whose only play was what he found himself,/ Summer or winter, and could play alone (27-28). Frost soon tells how swinging branches taught the boy many lessons and he could live off of those bare essentials. He learned not to push his limits as stated:

He learned all there was

To lean about not launching out too soon

And so not carrying the tree away

Clean 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. (33-39)

The last stanza of the poem goes back to more of a reflecting tone; the speaker wishes he could be what he once was. He switched from almost a daydream of his past life into reality in which he not longer has such a simplistic life. So was I once myself a swinger of birches,/ And so I dream of going back to be (42-43). He wants to be youthful and fun again- to enjoy the simple pleasures he once had. He is tired of caring about everything and thinks life is getting way too complicated. And life is too much like a pathless wood sums up how lost he is and how his life is spiraling out of control. He cant take the life he is living in any longer as he describes his face burns and tickles with the cobwebs,/ and one eye is weeping,/ from a twigs having lashed across it open(46-48).

A Christian vibe comes from the poem when the man in the story is wanting out of the life he was living. Id like to get away from earth awhile/ And then come back to it and begin over (50-51). In these lines the speaker is referring to having new life and seeing life in a different way. The snow-white trunk refers to the ladder to heaven through the birches (56). He is not ready to stay in heaven yet; he merely wants to take it as a boy and go as high as he can, until he can be brought down safely. He would prefer a life that was a mixture of reality and slipping out of it, That would be good both going and coming back (59).

In conclusion, the poem Birches is about life and what you miss if one goes through it to quickly. The speaker wants the reader to not make the same mistakes he made so he is informing all to enjoy the simple pleasures.

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