Please help me  interpret the poem "The Line Gang" by Robert Frost.I'm having a really hard time trying to figure out what Robert Frost is trying to convey in this poem: Here come the line-gang...

Please help me  interpret the poem "The Line Gang" by Robert Frost.

I'm having a really hard time trying to figure out what Robert Frost is trying to convey in this poem:

Here come the line-gang pioneering by,
They throw a forest down less cut than broken.
They plant dead trees for living, and the dead
They string together with a living thread.
They string an instrument against the sky
Wherein words whether beaten out or spoken
Will run as hushed as when they were a thought
But in no hush they string it: they go past
With shouts afar to pull the cable taught,
To hold it hard until they make it fast,
To ease away -- they have it. With a laugh,
An oath of towns that set the wild at naught
They bring the telephone and telegraph.

I'd really appreciate anyones help.

Asked on by avenged113

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

 

In "The Line Gang" Robert Frost describes a team of men who are setting telephone and telegraph wires.

They begin by cutting down a forest, "replanting" the logs as telephone poles, and then stringing wires between the poles:

They throw a forest down less cut than broken.
They plant dead trees for living, and the dead
They string together with a living thread.

The wires will carry words, either spoken on a telephone or "beaten out" on a telegraph; as the words travel along the wire, however, they will be "as hushed as when they were a thought."  The men, though, do not work quietly: "they go past /
With shouts afar."

Frost was born in 1874 and died in 1963; he witnessed the rapid transformation of America from a mostly rural country to a mostly urban superpower.  In his personal life, he experienced urban life in his hometown of San Francisco and rural life in his adopted home of New England.

In "The Line Gang," Frost seems to be considering the progress of industrialization and urbanization.  His attitude toward this process is not simplistically "for" or "against."  He observes that the forest has been left "broken" by the chopping down of trees, but he also seems to admire the power and potential of the telephone and telegraph that can "set the wild at naught."

Critics have observed that Frost often expresses a "double" vision in his poems.  This can be seem in "The Line Gang."

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