Thursday, October 23, 2014

Analysis of "For Once, Then, Something" by Robert Frost

Poem Found Here: "For Once, Then, Something" by Robert Frost

I still don't know how to analyze this poem.  After rereading this poem it seems very uncharacteristic of a Frost poem.  Fifteen lines, no rhyme scheme, no focus on meter.  It seems that this poem is more of Frost's musings and relating his thoughts to the scene.

For example, "Others taught me with having knelt at well-curbs / Always wrong to the light,"  Note how the speaker focuses on what the other's taught him and not focusing on his actions -- the wrongness of light is an interesting generalization, but the poem is just a collection of image generalizaitons: "Deeper down in the well than where the water / Gives me back in a shining surface picture"  The images state something -- there is action behind them, but there are more questions, what is the surface picture?  What shines from the "wrongness of light?"

Then this curious line, "Me myself in the summer heaven godlike".  Yes, the poem could be the contemplation of Frost being in summer, but what does it mean for the speaker to be "me myself"?  I'm not sure.  But I do know that the "well-curb" and the well is a reoccurring image "Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb, / I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture, / Through the picture, a somewhat white, uncertain."  These lines are uncertain.

And I think uncertainty is the point of this poem -- the images have a sense of vagueness, the speaker proclaims himself in god-like summer, but goes back to the depths of the well -- the images and the tone have the speaker looking for something, and even though the speaker has discerned "something," "Something more of the depths--and then lost it, / Water came to rebuke the too clear water."  The sense of irony comes from the line "rebuke the too clear water."  That, in contrast, clarity doesn't answer anything or reveal anything -- it's translucent.

"One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple / Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom / blurred it, blotted it out.  What was that whiteness?" Here, the lack of clarity creates something revealed a sense of "whiteness" which is mostly tangible like the descriptions of these lines.

Then the didactic last line, "Trust? A pebble of quartz?"  The physical is the truth -- or rather what is known.  The poem focuses on the well and the unknown search for unknown answers, "For once, then, something."  Honestly, these last few words don't make sense to me.  "For once" focuses on the brevity of the time frame -- maybe with or without sense, and "then, something" not clarity or truth, just a guide perhaps?

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