Robert Frost 's "The Runaway" is a short poem that describes the specific scene of a young horse being first exposed to snow. The horse appears to be running away because he is afraid. The two speakers in the poem who encounter the colt judge the colt's owner for not...
Robert Frost's "The Runaway" is a short poem that describes the specific scene of a young horse being first exposed to snow. The horse appears to be running away because he is afraid. The two speakers in the poem who encounter the colt judge the colt's owner for not taking better care of him.
Frost describes the speaker's and his companion's ("We") encounter with the colt using simple diction, dialogue, and imagery. The poem begins,
Once when the snow of the year was beginning to fall,
We stopped by a mountain pasture to say "Whose colt?"
A little Morgan had one forefoot on the wall,
The other curled at his breast. He dipped his head
And snorted at us. And then he had to bolt.
We heard the miniature thunder where he fled,
And we saw him, or thought we saw him, dim and grey,
Like a shadow against the curtain of falling flakes. (1–8)
The two speakers are walking along when they see the colt and ask whose it is. The horse's actions are then described in detail. He is acting erratically and attempting to escape. Eventually, "he had to bolt." That verb "had to" indicates that the colt is acting out of necessity. His flight creates "miniature thunder," and the speaker describes the colt using a simile: "Like a shadow." The horse stands out in the landscape, making him seem even more out of place. The "thunder" adds more sensory detail to the scene and suggests the colt's speed, which also indicates how afraid he is.
The poem continues,
"I think the little fellow's afraid of the snow.
He isn't winter-broken. It isn't play
With the little fellow at all. He's running away.
I doubt if even his mother could tell him, 'Sakes,
It's only weather.' He'd think she didn't know!
Where is his mother? He can't be out alone."
And now he comes again with a clatter of stone
And mounts the wall again with whited eyes
And all his tail that isn't hair up straight.
He shudders his coat as if to throw off flies.
"Whoever it is that leaves him out so late,
When other creatures have gone to stall and bin,
Ought to be told to come and take him in." (9–21)
The speaker includes dialogue between himself and his friend as they consider why the young horse is acting so strangely. They infer that the horse isn't being playful; instead, "He's running away." The speaker doesn't even believe the colt's "mother could tell him" that he's worried only about a natural phenomen. This leads the two to wonder where the mother is and why the horse is out alone. More imagery describes the colt's crazed behavior. The colt has "whited eyes" that reflect fear, and "He shudders." The colt is obviously not one with the environment around him. The final thought of the poem is a simple one: that the colt's owner should put the colt in the stable with all of the other horses.
The poem allows Frost to reflect on the strange behavior of the colt and also to ponder the relationship between humans and nature, both the animal world and the environment in which we all live.