The Oven Bird Analysis by Robert Frost

Explanation of The Oven Bird by Robert Frost

The Oven Bird by Robert Frost was written in 1916 and published in the Mountain Interval. It is a poem about an Oven Bird who sits on a tree on a mid summer’s evening and sings about the coming of winter. There is a certain sadness in the song of the bird as it rues the falling of the leaves of the cherry blossom. Frost ends the poem with a question, “what to make of a diminished thing?” which sticks in the reader’s mind and makes them contemplate about their own lives.

The Oven Bird is a sonnet consisting of 14 lines and thus doesn’t have any division into stanzas. As a result there is a recognizable but unconventional rhyme scheme.

The theme of The Oven Bird is one of passing of time.


Analysis of The Oven Bird by Robert Frost

The Oven Bird is a poem about a bird that sits on a tree on a mid summer’s evening and sings about the passing of the summer. The theme is of the change of seasons which represents the passage of time and the change it brings about. Spring makes way for summer which makes way for the fall, when the leaves of the cherry blossom start falling which is then replaced by winter. According to my analysis, we can compare this change of seasons to the different phases of our life. The spring is comparable to our youth when the leaves are growing, the summer to our adulthood when man like tree and its leaves, is in his prime. Fall represents the old age and final stages of life approaching while winter signifies death.

This comparison can be seen in the line “And then comes the other fall we name the fall” where the fall season is referred to as the other fall, the first fall being one that man experiences in his life with the advent of old age. The line “when the highway dust is over all” in my opinion is a reference to the process of industrialization that was taking place in the United States at the time of writing this poem. Here Robert Frost shows his concern for the environment, as is evident from his love for nature from his works.

It is in the last four lines of this poem where Robert Frost brings in the philosophical question. The bird will cease to sing and ask the question as to “what to make of a diminished thing?” .This is a point where Robert Frost voices his own worry through the medium of the Oven Bird. He, like every other man, is ruing the passage of time and wondering how he can best use the time he has left in his life. The theme of the poem shines through this line and tries to impart the message that life is very short and can pass just as quickly as seasons change. It is upon us to make the most of it, or we too will end up wondering how we can make the most of what little time is left, in the winter of our life.

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1 comment

  1. I would have to disagree with you when it comes to this part: “Spring makes way for summer which makes way for the fall, when the leaves of the cherry blossom start falling which is then replaced by winter.” This cleary isn’t the case since trees blossom in spring and when they fall off they give why to the actual green leaves.

    The first fall is the fall of these blossoms during spring showers, but nobody percieves it as fall, we only count the “other fall” as the actual one, when we see the yellowed leaves falling. The oven bird is sing of how magestic spring is as opposed to summer – “Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten” – which goes to say that spring is ten times more valuable than summer, which contradicts your statement that summer is the prime season and the prime stage of human life.

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