In the poem "Desert places" by Robert Frost, who are "They" that can create fear by talking about the emptiness of space, and what are the "desert places" within the speaker that may be compared to...

In the poem "Desert places" by Robert Frost, who are "They" that can create fear by talking about the emptiness of space, and what are the "desert places" within the speaker that may be compared to the literal emptiness of space?

 

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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  1. I believe that "they" in this line does not refer to anyone specific.  The theme of the poem is how the speaker feels alienated from everything around him.  So I think he uses the word "they" to emphasize that he feels like it is him against everything else -- that there are forces that are against him.
  2. These are the empty and lonely spaces in his own psyche.  They are the parts of him that are not content, which feel melancholy and perhaps even despair.  This emphasizes that his problems are within himself.
gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Throughout the poem, Robert Frost depicts the loneliness and isolation he feels staring at a dark empty field as snow descends onto it at night. He has an overwhelming sense of separation from nature, animals, and other humans as he contemplates his own loneliness. In the fourth stanza, Frost writes, "They cannot scare me with their empty spaces." Frost then proceeds to comment on the distances between stars in outer space where human life does not exist. In my opinion, "They" refers to the scientists who describe the vast emptiness of space which makes individuals feel inadequate as we gaze into the limitless sky. Frost comments that even the scientists cannot scare him with their discussions of the infinite distances in space when compared to his own "desert places." The "desert places" Frost is referring to are in his own mind, spirit, and psyche. Frost is more afraid of the workings of his own imagination which give him the most haunting feelings of loneliness that nothing can compare to. 

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mkcapen1's profile pic

mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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In the poem "Desert Spaces" by Robert Frost talks of emptiness, loneliness, and uses winter's snowfall to describe the feelings and emotions brought on by winter. 

Line 13 speaks of man's own fears and the way in which man causes himself to feel afraid by loneliness.  Mankind has a needed for the involvement of other and a person looking over a blank white space such as the snowfall witnesses’ isolation.  Frost is also referring to his own self and thoughts.  The term “they” are Frost’s own thoughts which at present seem to be dormant and useless with the exception of serving to make him feel more isolated.

In line 16 of the poem Frost uses desert places to describe the desolation and loneliness that he feels.  Winter is often a time of seasonal depression and the theme of this poem demonstrates those feelings.

 

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