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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 437

"Out, Out—" is a short narrative poem recounting the tragic death of a boy who has his hand cut off by a saw. The title, "Out, Out—," alludes to the stopping of the boy's heart at the end of the poem.

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The poem begins with an ominous, threatening tone. The saw is described as "snarl[ing] and rattl[ing] in the yard," suggesting that it is a restless animal: ready to pounce. After this opening line, however, the next five lines of the poem establish a rather picturesque, tranquil scene. There is the "Sweet-scented" smell of sawed wood, the "mountain ranges," and the "sunset far into Vermont." This picturesque setting is in stark contrast to the threatening, animalistic image of the saw, and thus there is set up a tension which characterizes the first half of the poem.

The pattern of the poem's opening six lines is repeated in the next six lines. Indeed, the threat of the saw is repeated in the seventh line, where Frost describes how it "snarl[s] and rattle[s], snarl[s] and rattle[s]." And then the next lines again allude to the peaceful Vermont setting, where "nothing happen[s]" and "day [is] all but done."

The volta, or dramatic turn in the poem, comes in line fourteen when the saw leaps from the boy's hand. The saw leaps out of his hand "At the word" supper, "As if to prove saws knew what supper meant." Here, we again see the implication that the saw is alive and acting according to its own will. The saw collides with the boy's hand, causing an injury which will prove fatal.

At this point in the...

(The entire section contains 437 words.)

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