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What is the meaning of the poem "A Late Walk" by Robert Frost?

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sadika | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted October 12, 2011 at 10:56 PM via web

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What is the meaning of the poem "A Late Walk" by Robert Frost?

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 13, 2011 at 5:49 AM (Answer #1)

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The person taking A Late Walk is going through a field that has been harvested of its crop, so all that remains is the stubble that appears headless since its grain has been cut off. The remains lie smooth and thick, covering the path to the garden that is the speaker's destination.

Upon reaching the garden, the speaker disturbs a flock of birds that had been in and amongst the dried weeds in the garden. The last brown leaf falls from a tree near the entrance to the garden as the speaker passes by.

The aster flower has long been a symbol of love; however, the "last remaining aster flower" found by the speaker is "faded blue." The speaker picks the flower "to carry again to you" - this ritual has been carried out before. The entire poem is filled with symbols of death and dying. Could the speaker be preparing to carry that last flower to the grave of his/her beloved?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 15, 2011 at 3:02 PM (Answer #2)

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Amidst the shirred remains of the harvested field, the speaker observes signs of the last remaining days of Autumn that part with the melancholy of the "sober birds" and the leaf that "Comes softly rattling down."  He ends his "going forth" by stooping to pick the last aster flower that remains.  Albeit faded, the speaker offers it as a symbol of renewal as he carries it "again to you." 

Thus, in Frost's poem about the somber approach of winter and the death of the beauty of nature, there emerges the symbol of love in the faded blue of the aster, a flower that will signify life and renewal as the speaker returns to his love.  In the midst of death, there is yet life.  And, in human relationships, there is a like theme of renewal of love from the solitary, faded aster, the unconquerable spirit.

Another interpretation finds the speaker at the end of his life, which he perceives as completed like the harvest. As he enters the garden, it is a somber moment as he witnesses his life fade.  Picking the aster reminds the speaker of his love whom he will soon meet; he is coming "again to you."

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sfwebber | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 7, 2012 at 10:41 AM (Answer #3)

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The recipient of the poem is old, perhaps dying, as is the speaker. The ritual of bringing the aster testifies to the eternal nature of his love, continuing through age and death. The mowed field suggests the passing of years and life's experiences . The poem is touching without being sentimental or hackneyed.

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