Birches : Theme of Nature

        Birches : Theme of Nature

    Question :  Discuss the theme of nature in the poem              “Birches”

  Answer : ” Birches”  by Robert Frost is a nature poem. Frost seems to have a close affinity with nature and his poems are meditative. Often ordinary natural objects suggest something greater in his poem. 

     The first part of the poem”Birches” (line 1 to 41)  consists of a description of nature. Frost has given many different appearances of birches in summer and in winter.

     The poet illustrates how the dark and bending trees catch his attention. When he glances  those birches left to right in the forest, he thinks that  “some boy’s been swinging them”.

     The poet assumes that the boy’s swinging caused bends in their branches.

    Later, he realises that these bends might also be caused by ice storm as the weight of ice forces them to bend toward the ground

    “But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay

     As ice – storms do.”

    Then he describes the actual cause of bending of branches of birches. He presents a beautiful picture and vivid description of the birches loaded with ice after a rain in a winter morning. 

   “They click upon themselves/

  As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel” 

    When it stops raining, in a sunny winter morning, the birches are covered with an enamel of ice. When the wind blows, the swinging of branches  up and down produce a clicking sound. As the rays of the sun falls on this ice it “turn many colored”. Means as the sunlight passes through the ice it begins to shine and reflect seven colours of the rainbow. 

       He further says that this beautiful scene is not long lasting as the warmth of the sun increases, the ice is cracked and falls on the earth. These small pieces of ice thrown on the earth appear to be the broken glass as if   “the inner dome of heaven had fallen”.

        Then Frost presents another visual imagery for the birches with trailing leaves on the ground                                  

  ” Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair.            Before them over their heads to dry in the sun”.

      He says that some of the trees are bowed down to such an extent that they  “never right themselves” and they appears like girls sitting on their hands and knees hanging down their hair in front of them as if they are drying their hair in the sun. 

     Frost imagines a rural boy who lives far away from town and his only entertainment is climbing the birch trees.  In the next few lines the theme of poem changes from beauty of nature to the conquest of nature. 

     The poet recalls his childhood days when he himself used to be the swinger of birches. He describes the technique of climbing and swinging of birches from his own experience. 

  The boy represents the poet’s childhood image when he used to be a birch swinger.

    The boy  “Subdued” his father’s trees  “riding them” until he takes the “stiffness” out of them. This leaves him absolutely victorious over the trees 

   “not one was left / For him to conquer” 

    Frost efficiently describes the technique of climbing and bending the birch trees. He compares the care and pain to reach the top of each tree with the care to fill a cup – 

   “Up to the brim, and even above the brim”. 

    Then he stretches his feet to lower down to the ground without harm. This is suggestive of the fact that lowering down to the ground is not merely a physical action but a coming back to the real world after a flight of imagination. 

   In the second part (line 42 to 59) Frost has used the birch trees to compare the childhood days led in the closeness to nature and the hardship of an adult life spent apart from nature.

     Here Frost describes nature as a pathless wood which represents the adult life with so many confusion 

   ” And life is too much like a pathless wood”.

   In his adult life, he is tired of his thoughts and his life becomes hard to live, when the  “cobwebs” of confusion and uncertainties troubles him like some twig pinches his eyes and his  “one eye is weeping”

    The boy’s birch climbing represents the playful time in the world of imagination while his climbing down to the ground represents the world of reality. 

    Frost wishes to escape from this earth for  ” a while”.  He is tired of his adult life and wants to become a child once again.   He wants to become a birch swinger and go to his world of imagination, not for always but only for a while. He wants to come back on the earth to resume his earthly duties as this earth is the right place for love. 

     Here Frost wants to suggest that he wants to return to the innocence and beauty of nature, let nature refresh him and then to return to the everyday grind of life on earth. 

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