The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“The Most of It” is a lyric poem cast in twenty lines of rhymed iambic pentamer. The title contains a dual meaning that reflects an important contrast between the attitudes of the male character in the poem and of Robert Frost himself.

The man in the poem wants “the most of it”: He wants more out of life than it ordinarily provides. Thus he spends time alone in nature, seeking a certain kind of response from “the universe,” but he feels disappointed when nature does not provide that kind of response.

On the other hand, the title also ironically alludes to the common phrase “make the most of it.” Through this allusion, Frost implies that the man expects the world to do too much for him and that he should participate more energetically in perceiving and creating satisfaction for himself. The poem suggests that the man has not “made the most” of his experience in this sense; Frost, through a powerful display of his poetic prowess, definitely has.

Though Frost does not separate the lines into stanzas, the action of the poem falls into two distinct sections. The first eight lines present the man and his situation, while the last twelve describe his sighting of “a great buck,” a large male deer. The first section introduces a man with an exalted—perhaps too exalted—conception of himself: “He thought he kept the universe alone.” As another person might think of “keeping” house, this man thinks of...

(The entire section is 498 words.)