Robert Frost Questions and Answers

Robert Frost book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What are the poetic techniques/literary devices in Robert Frost's poem "Gathering Leaves"?

Expert Answers info

Jay Gilbert, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer

bookB.A. from University of Oxford

bookM.A. from University of Oxford

bookPh.D. from University of Leicester


calendarEducator since 2017

write2,263 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

The regular rhythm and simple structure of this poem, based on four-line stanzas, is suited to its topic: the simple activity of shoveling "mountains" of dried leaves. The poem's regularity echoes the regularity, and the relentlessness, of the speaker's action as his spade, "no better than spoons," fills "bags full of leaves."

The figurative language and imagery in this poem are simple, too. The bags full of leaves are "light as balloons," an evocative simile which gives a sense of weightlessness. The noise of the shoveler's "rustling" is likened to the sound of "rabbit and deer running away." Meanwhile, the metaphorical "mountains" of the shovelled leaves are described "flowing over my arms / And into my face," a vivid sensory image which again allows the reader to feel the elusive leaves touching skin.

The weightlessness of the leaves is a key focus in this poem. The phrase "Next to nothing" is repeated, an example of anaphora, to emphasize that the leaves have no "weight," "color," or "use," and yet their volume could "fill the whole shed." The poem ends with a rhetorical question, asking where "the harvest shall stop?" The implication here is that the shoveling of leaves is a task which seems to go on forever with no end in sight.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial