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'Bereft' by Robert Frost: A Critical Analysis


Bereft by Robert Frost

Where had I heard this wind before
Change like this to a deeper roar?
What would it take my standing there for,
Holding open a restive door,
Looking down hill to a frothy shore?
Summer was past and the day was past.
Sombre clouds in the west were massed.
Out on the porch's sagging floor,
Leaves got up in a coil and hissed,
Blindly struck at my knee and missed.

Something sinister in the tone
Told me my secret must be known:
Word I was in the house alone
Somehow must have gotten abroad,
Word I was in my life alone,
Word I had no one left but God.

Bereft is a short simple poem by Robert Frost. The poem is touched with pathos as the poet is old, lonely and completely deserted. It deals with the themes of loneliness and Man’s belief in his Creator.

Frost's Philosophy

Frost is of the belief that the soul originated in heaven which is its natural abode. The soul will return to heaven after completing its temporary stay in the world. According to Frost, Man should have control over his egotistical whims. Nature does have an impact on man, but actually, it is Man who is superior to nature. It is the mind of Man that gives meaning to nature. Like Bereft, there is a feeling of loneliness found in this poem Desert Places. Frost reiterates that loneliness leads Man to God. It is when Man is in the dark that he sees the light of God. It is when he is alone that he seeks the presence of God.

Where had I heard this wind before

Change like this to a deeper roar?

At the beginning of the poem, the poet is in a dilemma. He is unable to decide when 'this wind' started and where he had heard it before changing into a 'deeper roar'. He isn't sure where he himself is. But as the poem progresses, we find him growing more conscious of himself and his surroundings. In the second stanza, he says:

Word, I was in the house alone.

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By the end of the poem, we find him not only conscious of his physical self but also conscious of his spiritual self. With this awareness, he becomes stronger. He says:

Word I had no one left but God.

Nothing can harm him, no man, no aspect of nature because he has acquired a union with his God - the all-powerful, all-protecting.

The Setting

The poet has given a vivid description of the setting. He's an old man who is standing on the porch of an old house, holding a 'restive door'. The autumn day is coming to an end. He is looking down the hill upon the shore. The waves are beating vigorously, creating froth on the shore. The poet has used personification to describe the weather. The sombre clouds are amassing and the wind is roaring.



The poet is standing by a ‘restive door’. The restive door is symbolic of his own state as he's resilient in the face of the combined forces of nature. He is standing on the sagging floor of the porch of life looking at the sea. The sea refers to the difficulties of life. The sagging house is reminiscent of the sagging flesh of the old man. The leaves are the dark forces of nature. 'Coil' and 'hissed' symbolize the temptations in life as these terms represent a snake. The leaves are trying to strike him on the knee, but he succeeds in being safe from them. This shows that death will relieve him of the mortal coil of life. There is an optimistic note as the leaves were unable to touch him, and he is safe from them. The forces of nature must have found him alone and they have come to frighten him. His loneliness is even more heightened by the beating of the waves of the sea.

Frost's poems always end on an optimistic note. Towards the end of the poem, the poet finds himself at 'home'. The home stands for safety - both physical and spiritual. He comes to know that he is all alone in his life but he has God with him. He has achieved a union with his Creator which makes him unlonely. He is befriended by his Creator. The presence of God is enough for him. After this relationship with his Creator, he has no interest in this life and is perfectly at peace in his association with his Creator and his Guide.

New Hampshire - Poetry of Robert Frost - Illustrated and Annotated Version

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