The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

Robert Frost’s “The Silken Tent” is both a love poem and a metaphor describing the poet’s relationship to his beloved as well as to his poetry. “The Silken Tent” is a sonnet written in the Shakespearean style, yet with Frost’s uniquely American twist on form. It is a simple sentence written in fourteen lines of rhymed iambic pentameter. Frost makes use of his ties to nature in general, and New England in particular, to address the universality of human relationships and love. This is also a poem about people’s individual relationships within the wider universe. At once simple and complex, “The Silken Tent” serves as a compelling metaphor for poetry within the context of lives and relationships.

Frost opens with the line “She is as in a field a silken tent” and immediately creates an image for the reader. The vision is of a tent in a field at midday, standing firm against the summer sun, sturdy and sure, supported by a strong “central cedar pole” which serves both to support and to point the pinnacle of the tent heavenward, toward the sun. Yet this tent is not set up for a rustic outing within the elements. Rather, it stands tall as Frost’s symbol of the complexities of love and the connections of relationships, which “owe naught to any single cord” and are “strictly held by none” but are always “loosely bound/ By countless silken ties of love and thought.”

Frost completes the sentence by noting that...

(The entire section is 549 words.)