A Late Walk” by Robert Frost is a poem that represents the nostalgia of the last days of fall. The title of the poem “A Late Walk” represents the stroll of the farmer as he returns home from the final days in the field. Late synbolifies the dawn or the delay in the growing season.
When I go up through the mowing field,
The headless aftermath,
Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
Half closes the garden path.
And when I come to the garden ground,
The whir of sober birds
Up from the tangle of withered weeds
Is sadder than any words
A tree beside the wall stands bare,
But a leaf that lingered brown,
Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
Comes softly rattling down.
I end not far from my going forth
By picking the faded blue
Of the last remaining aster flower
To carry again to you.
A poem begins with a lump in the throat ; a homesickness or love sickness . it is a reaching out toward expression ;an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the the thought has found words. Poetry is where words have become deeds.
In the opening stanza, Frost describes the farmer or narrator walking home through the mowing field and the “headless aftermath”. This phrasing would be indicative of a field that has been harvested and the straw has been baled. The imagery of “headless aftermath” creates a connotation of warfare. It is as if the farmer is a warrior who has risen from the battle having defeated the fields. It is a contradictory image with the nostalgia that echoes in many of Frost’s words.
When the narrator reaches the garden he observes that “whir of sober birds”. This phrasing by Frost clearly shows that even the birds sense the seriousness of the season. Realizing that the moments of nice weather are numbered, the birds are sober and may be even sad about leaving for another season.
Next Frost uses the phrasing “withered weeds”. With this alliterative phrase, Frost illustrates for the reader that the plants in the garden are drying up and are no longer putting forth fruit or blossoms. Frost then states that this is “sadder than any words, “which describes the sober birds and the dying plants. This indicates the farmer is sad for the end of fall and the beginning of winter. That he feels the passing of time is something to be mourned.
In the third stanza, Frost describes the narrator watching as the last leaf falls from the tree that grows by the wall. The wall is a symbol of barriers and the leaf symbolizes life. It may well be that life is nearing an end for the farmer as well. The last leaf falling is symbolic of the end of the season as well as the end of life. The wall may represent the barrier that lies in the way between life and death.
In the final stanza, the narrator stoops and picks the last aster of the season “to carry again to you”. This would indicate that stopping to pick a flower for whoever is in the house, beyond the wall is a common practice for the narrator. Choosing the word “again” is reminiscent that there may not be many more opportunities for this and perhaps it is the last time. Picking this last flower of the season to bring in and share with a loved one appears to be a final act of love.
This can also be symbolic of the narrator entering heaven gates taking one last blossom from his growing on earth to God in heaven. The narrator states that he “ends not far from his going forth”. This can be symbolic of the narrator going the full circle with his life, like “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”.
Frost eloquently writes this poem on both a literal and a figurative level. On the literal level, it can be interpreted as simply an elegiac poem mourning the passing of another growing season passing into winter. On the figurative level, it can be interpretive of entering the gates of heaven.
With an ABCB rhyme scheme, with four stanzas, this 16 line poem includes alliteration in phrases such as “withered weeds” and “garden ground”. Frost uses the rhythm of alternating 9 syllable and 7 syllable lines to create a steady beat to the poem that adds to its lyrical and elegiac style.
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