(Masterpieces of American Literature)

“Tree at My Window” differs from most of Frost’s nature poems in its locale. Instead of being out in the fields or woods, the speaker is looking out his bedroom window at a nearby tree. He closes his window at night, but out of love for the tree he does not draw the curtain. This is an unmistakably modern nature poem. Whereas the transcendentalists of the nineteenth century had regarded nature as profound, the speaker here specifically denies the possibility of the tree speaking wisdom. Instead, he compares the conditions of human and tree. He has seen the tree “taken and tossed” by storm, and if the tree can be imagined as having looked in at him asleep, it has seen him “taken and swept/ and all but lost.” That which brought them together is styled “fate”—but an imaginative fate, because of their respective concerns with “outer” and “inner weather.”

He sees the tree not as an instructor but as a comrade, a fellow sufferer. Between Frost and the transcendentalist faith in nature as a teacher lies a scientific revolution that denies the possibility of “sermons in stones,” and it is clear that the tree is physically, the person only metaphorically, storm-tossed. This metaphor, an old contrivance of poets, remains a potent one when used as freshly as it is here. The speaker’s storm is only a dream, but dreams can be deeply disturbing; psychologists insist that they may be very significant.

“Inner weather”...

(The entire section is 490 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Bloom, Harold, ed. Robert Frost. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2003.

Burnshaw, Stanley. Robert Frost Himself. New York: George Braziller, 1986.

Faggen, Robert. Robert Frost and the Challenge of Darwin. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997.

Galbraith, Astrid. New England as Poetic Landscape: Henry David Thoreau and Robert Frost. New York: Peter Lang, 2003.

Gerber, Philip L. Robert Frost. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne, 1982.

Lathem, Edward Connery. Robert Frost: A Biography. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981.

Meyers, Jeffrey. Robert Frost: A Biography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

Poirier, Richard. Robert Frost: The Work of Knowing. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Potter, James L. The Robert Frost Handbook. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1980.

Pritchard, William H. Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.

Thompson, Lawrance Roger, and R. H. Winnick. Robert Frost: A Biography. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1982.