Putting in the Seed was published in the volume ‘Mountain Interval’. It actually combines the form of a sonnet and dramatic monologue. A wonderfully crafted sonnet, whose central theme moves from the particular instance of “sowing a seed” to the universal sentiments of love and birth.
This poem is not easy to understand. Thus effort has been made to provide a detailed summary followed by an extensive analysis of the poem that illustrates the theme and the explores the mirage of associations in the poem.
Putting in the Seed Summary by Robert Frost
The poem consists of three quatrains and a couplet. In the first quatrain the farmer who is the speaker in the poem tells his wife to call him after the dinner is ready. However he is doubtful; he might be stopping his work or he might continue. He will be burying the petals from the apple tree to fertilize the soil where he will be planning the seed.
The farmer’s wife seems to question about the credibility of the soft petals to fertilize the soil. In response the farmer says, through the petals are soft and have not decayed, it will help nourish the soil along with other ingredients in the soil.
His wife, who had come to call him for the dinner, on seeing the activity of farming and sowing a seed might actually forget the cause of her presence (calling her husband for the dinner). In fact, she would assist him in preparing the soil and stand by him. The speaker presumes that his wife would become like him, engaged in the act of preparing the soil for sowing.
If that be the case, she would also become a slave of the passion that one develops in the Spring season for earth. The poet has this passion and probably his wife will also foster this passion because, “Love burns through the Putting in the Seed”.
Planting a seed together may be considered as an act of passion but the greatest reward is experienced when both of them witness the little tender sprouts burst from the soil.
As the weed extend over the field, the sprouts burst open through the soil. We finally witness, “The sturdy seedling with arched body comes; Shouldering its way and shedding the earth crumbs”.
Again like all other works of Frost, Nature stands just as a mirror to reflect the theme of the poem which is largely humanised (man oriented). It is crucial for readers to remember that Frost in not a Nature poet (or a Romantic poet like Wordsworth). The objects of Nature are nothing more than just supplements to aid Frost’s primary thoughts/theme in the poem which relates to human and human emotions. This poem presents a man’s perception about the thrust of love that gives way to birth.
Analysis of Putting in the Seed by Robert Frost
The sonnet delivers a set of contrasting images- birth and burial, white and tarnished, smooth and wrinkled, you and I. Ultimately these ideas are encompassed by the four alphabets “s—e—e—d” which again holds a special significance.
The first 2 quatrains present a rural picture (devoid of emotions). From the ninth line onwards the dimension of the ‘human emotions’ spring up. “Love” and “Putting in the Seed” actually unfurls the theme of human sexuality supported by words like “birth”, “burn” and “arched body”. The image of the plant bursting through the earth symbolically represents a baby crawling his way to this world. An allegory of human union is linked and expressed through verses like “springtime passion”. The process of fruition whether in plant or human needs extreme care and association of all forces (the male and female). Thus the image of the farmer’s wife is prioritized and her character is strong; even though there is no mention of physical attributions.
Putting in the Seed is a breath taking poem actually empowered by the colloquial idioms of the speaker! It’s remarkable how well Frost portrays the primal passions! With a sudden dramatic twist from colloquial voice to solemn statements, the actually theme of union and birth is presented.
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