Robert Frost contrasts the lives of the poor with that of the rich in this poem, “A Roadside Stand.” The poor people had constructed a roadside stand to sell their goodies and earn a living but the rich do not even bother to take a look at it.
Summary and Analysis of A Roadside Stand by Robert Frost
Lines 1-6: The poem starts with the description of the stand. A small time farmer has put up the stand outside his house along a highway hoping that the passing cars would buy his goodies. He is trying to earn some money not by begging and supporting cities from going into ruins.
Lines 7-13: Unfortunately, no passer-by stop their cars and buys his goodies. Moreover, even if someone stares at the direction of the stand only criticize the badly painted North-South signs without even once noticing the wild berries and squash for sale.
Lines 14-22: The farmer tells the rich to keep their money if they are meant to be so cruel and mean. He is not hurt that they do not notice the stand but he is hurt at the way he is treated and ignored. He wishes for some city life and money which he has seen in movies and other media but the political parties are denying him all these plush life.
Lines 23-31: The poet here says that there are some benefactors(good doers) of these poor people too. They relocate them to such places where they can experience the cinema and the store. However, Frost says that these benefactors are selfish as they help these pitiful kin for their own advantage. These benefactors make the villagers completely dependent on them thus robbing them of their ability to think for themselves or be independent. During the ancient times, these villagers used to work day and night. This process has been changed by these greedy good doers who manipulate these innocent villagers and ask them not to use their own ideas. These villagers are now troubled and unable to sleep at night because they haven’t worked in the morning.
Lines 33-43: In the following lines, Frost talks about his own personal feelings. He is intolerable towards the farmer’s battered hopes. The windows of the farmer’s house just ache to hear the sound of a car stopping to make some purchase. However, they are always disappointed as the cars stop either to enquire about the police or about the gas stations.
Lines 44-51: Robert Frost feels that these villagers should be put out of pain and hardships of existence. According to the poet, these country people have not yet found progress which is evidently visible through their lifestyle. He wonders for some solution by which the farmers can be freed from such painful existence.
ANALYSIS: The rhyme scheme of the poem is abab. A number of poetical devices have been used to emphasize on the poem’s theme.
There are two examples of transferred epithet in “A Roadside Stand.”
1. ‘polished traffic’ referring to the city dwellers who pass by the countryside and sometimes they take out a moment to scrutinize the surroundings around them.
2. ‘Selfish cars’ is yet another use of a transferred epithet. This refers to the car owners who do stop at the roadside stand but to ask about the police or the gas stations.
“the sadness that lurks behind the open window there…” where sadness is an example of personification. Sadness dwells in the windows of the farmers because they wait for cars to stop and make a purchase.
Alliteration and Oxymoron: ‘Greedy good doers’ and ‘beneficent beasts of prey’ are examples of both alliteration and oxymoron.
About the Poet: Robert Lee Frost was an American poet. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. His work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. A popular and often-quoted poet, Frost was honored frequently during his lifetime, receiving four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry.
“A Road Not Taken”, “Mending Wall”, “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening”, “Birches” are some of his most famous poems.