Birches : Theme of Escapism and need for Limits imposed by the Real World

       Theme of Escapism and Need for Limits imposed by the Real World in Birches  

      Question : All of us desire escape from the world but there are limits imposed by the real world. Discuss this Statement  with reference to the poem  “Birches”.

 Answer : Robert Lee Frost in his famous poem, ” Birches” has depicted the theme of the limits imposed on man for his existence, by the real world with all its hardships and still allowing for the world of fantasy. 

     There is a need for limits imposed by real world, on man for being in the world and existing as a person. The borders of the world define a person and place for him or her in the real world, just as the birch trees are bent back towards the earth by the ice – storm.

       Limits are necessary to define one’s personality. Like a tree which reaches great heights but remains grounded in the earth through its roots, so does a man needs limits to remain grounded. The removal of limits would leave one’s personality groundless, with no way to define oneself.

     Thus, in the “Birches”, one finds people or forces imposing limits : both the boy and the ice – storm bend the birches.  Here the poet brings the theme of escapism by saying – 

   ” I should prefer to have some boy bend them / 

    As he went out and in to fetch the cows….”

    The boy who is supposed to be the swinger of birches and reason for their bending has the freedom from the limits of time and natural world but he is just as alienated from it as he is from other people.

    Also there are some limits imposed on his acts. Climbing trees requires as much care as it is required to fill a cup beyond its brim. 

   “Climbing carefully / 

   With the same pains you use to fill a cup / 

    Up to the brim ………”

    Frost has used several  elements in the poem which indicate the theme of escapism like – harsh ice storms, broken glasses, the inner dome of heaven being fallen. His desire to move upward i.e., to escape the rigours of life seems to be defeated by the limits imposed by the real  world. 

     The limits of real world which drags the tree down and places the narrator back to the earth or we can say – the real world. 

    “I’d like to get away from earth awhile /

    And then come back to it and begin over “

    Here the narrator, in any way does not want to displace the real world completely, instead, he wants to exist along the arch of the birch tree i.e., the curved path between two opposite poles. 

     So the poet suggests – 

  “Earth’s the right place for love /

   I don’t know where it is likely to go better”

   Without limits there can be no love  or any other human emotion. It is this real world that provides the limits and love and makes his poetry possible.

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