illustrated portrait of American poet Robert Frost

Robert Frost

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Analyze Robert Frost's poem "I Could Give All to Time."

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Robert Frost's poem “I Could Give All to Time” focuses first on the unfeeling nature of time. People often attribute emotional characteristics to time, but according to the speaker, time is not brave at all or overjoyed at conquest. He is merely “contemplative and grave.” There is a solemnity to time, even an apathy.

The speaker then goes on to reflect about how the world changes. He uses the example of the changing oceans and lands, and he wishes that he could be as indifferent as time about such changes. Yet the speaker knows that he is not. He says that he “could give all to Time,” but then he makes an exception. He cannot give the things close to him, the things and (presumably) people that he has held. He cannot attain time's level of indifference and separation.

Now let's examine the poem's structure. The poem contains three stanzas of six lines each with an ababacdcdcefefe rhyme scheme and an iambic pentameter rhythm.

Stylistically, the poet makes use of personification with regard to time. He also uses vivid imagery, as with the “peaks of snow” and “running wave.” In the second stanza, he employs a simile when he says that the eddies play around the reef “like curl at the corner of a smile.” He also uses a metaphor in the “planetary change of style.” The poem's tone is meditative and almost a little sad, for the speaker wishes for something he cannot attain.

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