Reluctance

Reluctance

By Robert Frost

 Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.

The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping
Out over the crusted snow,
When others are sleeping.

And the dead leaves lie huddled and still,
No longer blown hither and thither;
The last lone aster is gone;
The flowers of the witch hazel wither;
The heart is still aching to seek,
But the feet question ‘Whither?’

Ah, when to the heart of man
Was it ever less than a treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
And bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season?

Summary of Reluctance

  • Popularity of “Reluctance”: “Reluctance” by Robert Frost, a great American poet laureate, author, and critic, is an interesting as well as superb poetic composition. It first appeared in 1912 and was later included in A Boy’s Will. The poem centers on a person who is back home after accomplishing great adventures. To his surprise, the signs of the dead season have altered the stunning view of his hometown. The poem has won accolades for the writer due to the universal thematic strand.
  • “Reluctance” As a Representative of Sorrow: This poem is an expression of sorrow. The writer experiences various emotions of a traveler who has traveled throughout the world and now finds himself on the way back home. The poem begins when he marks the end of his journey after visiting exciting and beautiful places across the world. His excitement turns into sadness when he finds the signs of winter on his doorstep. The dead leaves, crusted snow, and lifeless flowers make him gloomy and sad. The dull and lifeless plain brings him heartaches and sudden shock as he never has expected to face welcome home like this. Despite knowing the cyclical natural world, he refuses to sit back and wait for the joyous season. Instead, he desires to keep exploring the beautiful world.
  • Major Themes in “Reluctance”: The conflict between head and heart, the transient nature of weather, and human emotions are the poem’s central themes. The poem recollects the various emotions of a traveler who has greeted himself with the treasures of ecstasy. His eyes have witnessed glories and bounties of nature. Yet, when he finds a path back home, his heart gets filled with sadness. The unexpected lifeless winter mocks the way he traces his way back. As an adventurer, he ignores the sorrow this season brings to the earth and decides to go with the drift of things.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Reluctance”

literary devices are tools that enable the writers to hook the readers to go through their poetic compositions and understand their messages. Robert Frost has used various literary devices in the poem whose analysis is as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “The flowers of the witch hazel wither” and the sound of /o/ in “No longer blown hither and thither.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration means the use of consonant sounds in the initials of the successive words such as the sound of /h/ in “hither and thither” and the sound of /th/ in “those that the oak.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /w/ in “The flowers of the witch hazel wither” and the sound of /k/ in “The heart is still aching to seek.”
  4. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;

“I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Robert has used imagery in this poem such as; “I have climbed the hills of view”, “And the dead leaves lie huddled and still” and “And let them go scraping and creeping.”
  2. Personification: Personification is to give human qualities to inanimate objects. The poet has used this device in the second stanza of the poem such as;

“The leaves are all dead on the ground,
Save those that the oak is keeping
To ravel them one by one
And let them go scraping and creeping.”

  1. Rhetorical Question: A rhetorical question is not asked to receive an answer; it is just posed to make the point clear. Robert Frost has posed rhetorical questions at the end of the poem to put emphasize his point such as “And bow and accept the end/Of a love or a season?”
  2. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. “Fields and the woods” stand for happy season whereas, and “dead leaves” symbolize the arrival of winter

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Reluctance”

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.

  1. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. Robert Frost has used end rhyme in this poem such as; “reason/season”, “wended / descended” and “sleeping/creeping.”
  2. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows the ABCBDB rhyme scheme and this pattern continues till the end.
  3. Sestet: A sestet is a six lined stanza. Here, each stanza is sestet.
  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem with each comprising six lines.

Quotes to be Used

These lines from “The Reluctance” are useful to add when talking about the conservation of nature.

“Out through the fields and the woods
And over the walls I have wended;
I have climbed the hills of view
And looked at the world, and descended;
I have come by the highway home,
And lo, it is ended.”