Out, Out—

Out, Out—

by Robert Frost

The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside him in her apron
To tell them ‘Supper.’ At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap—
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all—
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart—
He saw all spoiled. ‘Don’t let him cut my hand off—
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!’
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then—the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Little—less—nothing!—and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

Summary of Out, Out—

Popularity of the Poem, “Out, Out”: This poem is written by Robert Frost, a great American poet. Out, Out is a narrative poem with themes of sympathy and pain. It was first published in 1916. The poem is about a young boy who loses his hand in an accident. The poem highlights what people feel about the young boy’s passing and also death. The poet used references from Shakespeare’s Macbeth to compare the unpreparedness and shock of death.

“Out, Out ” As a Representative of Death: The poem narrates the tragic death of a boy, who accidentally severed his hand while working on the farm. The young boy later dies in a shock. At the outset, the speaker presents a graphic description of a dangerous saw, which was the main cause of death. The speaker also provides the description of eye-catching sights and soothing sounds of the farm, which were interrupted by the unpleasant noise of the saw. The day was about to end, but the laborers were still working on the farm. When the young boy’s sister called him for supper, out of excitement, he is distracted. The accident severs his hand. Out of fear, he begged his sister not to allow the doctor to amputate his wounded hand. The doctor anesthetized him for treatment, but he dies. Surprisingly, everyone moves on with their lives as if the tragedy was an ordinary event. The cold response of the people about young boy reveals the hardships of working people.

Major Themes in “Out, Out”: Death, child labor and fragility of life are the major themes of this poem. Robert Frost has highlighted the issue of child labor in this short poem. Although the boy performs man’s tasks, he is still an innocent child at heart. The ending of the poem is callous, shocking, and cruel. People behave indifferently on the death of that boy. There are no signs of mourning or sadness on their faces. They return to their work as if nothing has happened.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Out, Out “

Literary devices are tools used by writers to convey their emotions, ideas, and themes to make texts more appealing to the reader. Robert Frost has also used some literary devices in this poem to narrate the tragic death of a young boy. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been stated below.

  • Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /o/ in “And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood” and the sound of /i/ in “He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.”
  • Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /t/ in “The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister” and the sound of /v/ in “He must have given the hand. However it was.”
  • Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession such as the sound of /s/ in “Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.”
  • Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. For example, the saw, which is compared to a buzzing sound is personified, “The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard; And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood.”
  • Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard”; “And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood” and “The doctor put him in the dark of ether.”
  • Symbolism: Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities, by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal meanings. Here sunset symbolizes the end of the young boy’s life.
  • Onomatopoeia: It refers to the words related to the natural sounds of animals or objects. The poet has used the words buzz, snarled, and rattled are examples of onomatopoeia.
  • Enjambment: It is defined as a thought or clause that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it moves over the next line. For example,

“The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Out, Out “

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  • Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of lines and verses. The poem is a long narrative poem of thirty-four lines with no stanza break.
  • Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free-verse poem without strict rhyme or meter.
  • Repetition: There is a repetition of the verse, “The buzz saw snarled and rattled” has created a musical quality in the poem
  • Refrain: The lines that are repeated at some distance in the poem are called refrain. The verse, “The buzz saw snarled and rattled” is repeated with the same words, it has become a refrain as it has been repeated in the first and seventh lines of the poem.

Quotes to be Used

The lines stated below can be used to describe the enchanting beauty of nature. These lines can also be used to tell children to make them aware of the lovely sights people enjoy in the farms.

“And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.”