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In "A Minor Bird," Robert Frost expresses modern man's inability to appreciate nature....

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bethmi1997 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 29, 2013 at 2:02 PM via web

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In "A Minor Bird," Robert Frost expresses modern man's inability to appreciate nature. Comment on this idea.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 29, 2013 at 2:41 PM (Answer #1)

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Robert Frost's "A Minor Bird" opens with a title which reflects man's inability to appreciate nature. The use of the word "minor" in the title shows the insignificance with which man regards nature.

The speaker begins with the thoughts that he or she wishes the bird will fly away. The constant singing all day seems to really bother the speaker. The speaker has even tried to drive the bird away with the sound of clapping hands.

At one point, the speaker realizes the bird singing was not the fault of the bird; instead, it was the fault of the speaker. Closing the poem, the speaker recognizes the fact that there is really something wrong with wanting to silence the bird's song. This speaks to a realization by the speaker that the fault lies in him or her and not in nature's desire to do what it was put on earth to do.

All said, Frost is considered a Romantic poet by some and a Realist by others. This poem actually shows a little of both movements. The inclusion of nature depicts the Romantic in Frost. On the other hand, the speaker's initial aggravation at the singing (and the desire to drive the bird away) depicts the Realist in Frost. Regardless of the movement, the poem certainly speaks to mankind's desire to control nature. That said, while the speaker of the poem admits to his or her distaste of the constant singing, one must remember to separate the poet from the speaker. While some of the poet's own ideologies may be inferred to be a part of the poem, this is not always the fact.

Therefore, one could more easily define the speaker as one who fails to possess the ability to appreciate nature (over Frost). Even then, one can only assume that Frost wrote the poem in order to increase the awareness of readers regarding their lack of appreciation of nature. In the end, the poem itself speaks to man's inability to appreciate nature (through the title, the irritation of the bird's song, and the questioning of why the song should be stopped). Also, the poem's speaker is singular. Therefore, as the author of the poem, Frost is not assuming that all of mankind fails to appreciate nature; instead, he is only referring to a small number of people who find the song of a bird irritating.

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bethmi1997 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 28, 2013 at 12:37 PM (Answer #2)

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Robert Frost brings the general theme of nature critically through the poem "A Minor Bird". Disturbances made by man to nature gradually leads to the avoiding of sustainability of environment. The poet has comprehensively portrayed this situation. With the industrial revolution and urbanization man developed rapidly and this development greatly affected nature.

Many poets have found nature as a great balm to their confused souls. William Wordsworth escapes into the Lake District to find solace in nature. Shakespeare is a great nature poet who used nature to understand life. This bond between man and nature is a great consolation to man. But unfortunately modern man can't understand the value of nature. He is so engrossed in running after wealth. He has forgotten to appreciate what nature can offer to man. In this way Frost expresses modern man's inability to appreciate nature.

In this poem it is described that, with the rat race of modern man, he has become insensitive to nature. Here the speaker is annoyed by the singing of the bird. So he chased it away by clapping his hands. Though he tempted to do this, later he becomes guilty conscious. Thus, "The fault must partly have been in me" depicts that he believes him to be part of the fault as he is guilty of what he has done. "He was not to blame for his key" Further shows that he is ashamed of his fault and laments on his action. He finds something wrong within him for not being able to appreciate the song of the bird. This reveal he is insensitive to nature. He can't respond to the natural song of the bird may be because he is too stressed and affected by social conditions.

"And of course there must be something wrong in wanting to silence any song" A bird singing is the most natural and living music in the world. ‘If somebody can't appreciate it, but threats it as a nuisance, definitely there must be something wrong with that person.’ This is the philosophy of Frost. Man can't be separated from his natural environment. If they destroy nature it will lead to disaster.

From the last 2 stanzas writer introduces a contrast. Usually when somebody is successful in his effort he must be happy. Here the speaker chased the bird away, but he doesn’t seem to be happy about it and feels ashamed of his ill temper and partly accepts the blame for his insensitivity and inability to appreciate nature. As usual, a casual seemingly insignificant event has driven him to think of the conflicting nature of the modern society. Here he emerges as an oversensitive person to repent on a very minor incident. A feeling of repentance and guilt within him are created here and he sincerely confesses on his by-gone intolerance of bird and then admits the necessity to put up with it, as a part of nature.

The poem introduces a social problem as the unique theme, that “the modern man is engrossed in his materialistic world that he has no time to appreciate the beauty of nature.” Poet finds this as a result of man’s getting distanced from nature. His senses of feeling and appreciation have been benumbed and blunted by the so called materialistic attitudes. Here we have to be aware that every living being is a part of nature that helps for the balance of bio-diversity.Modern man has to be concerned about this idea since he is devoid of any aesthetic sensibilities and turns a deaf earto nature.

Man's bond with nature is a source of comfort to man. Frost is sad that man has broken this bond between him and nature.

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