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What is the summary and main theme of "Birches" by Robert Frost?

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quail | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted June 10, 2009 at 8:43 PM via web

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What is the summary and main theme of "Birches" by Robert Frost?

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epollock | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted June 10, 2009 at 10:57 PM (Answer #1)

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"Birches" by Robert Frost is more than a nostalgic picture of boyhood play. From line 43 on, the poem develops a flamboyant metaphor. The poem’s theme can be: “While there are times when the speaker [of “Birches”] would ‘like to get away from earth awhile,’ his aspiration for escape to something ‘larger’ is safely controlled by the recognition that birch trees will only bear so much climbing before returning you, under the pressure of human weight, back home.”

One line in “Birches,” stands out more than the rest, the line about feeling lost in the woods, facing too many decisions about which way to go. He pointed it out to audiences on several occasions: “It’s when I’m weary of considerations”  (line 43).

The birch tree can be seen as a path toward heaven fraught with risk, suspense, even a kind of terror. The climbing boy performs his act of birch-bending gracefully, but in doing so goes almost too far, like one filling a cup “even above the brim.”

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