شرح قصيدة out out by Robert frost 2024

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Out, Out

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside them in her apron
To tell them "Supper." At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap–
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all–
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart–
He saw all spoiled. "Don’t let him cut my hand off–
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!"
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then–the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Little–less–nothing!–and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

Out, Out — ” was first published in the collection Mountain Interval 1916. Both the description of a terrible accident and a comment on the human need to resume one’s life after a tragedy, “Out, Out — ” is one of Frost’s most shocking and disturbing performances. Like many of Frost’s poems, “Out, Out — ” is written in blank verse, with the events described by an unnamed (yet characterized) speaker..

The poem is based upon a real incident. In 1901, Michael Fitzgerald, one of Frost’s friends and neighbors, lost his son Raymond during an accident with a buzzsaw; after accidentally hitting a loose pulley, the saw descended and began cutting his hand. He bled profusely and was rushed into the house; a doctor was called, but the young man went into shock and died of heart failure.

According to Jeffery Meyers (author of Robert Frost: A Biography), Frost thought that the poem was “too cruel to read in public.” For those readers who associate Frost with folksy, homespun philosophers observing the beauties of rural New England, “Out, Out — ” will be something of a surprise — for the poem is, in a sense, cruel: the boy dies a terrible death and all the speaker can say is, “No more to build on there.” Even more shocking is Frost’s depiction of the adults who watch the boy take his final breaths. After his death, they “turned to their affairs” since “they / Were not the one dead.” Ultimately, Frost suggests, this “turning away” from death is, sometimes, the only possible reaction

Poem Summary

Lines 1-3

The poem begins with a description of the buzz saw that later “attacks” the unnamed boy. Frost personifies the saw, saying it “snarled and rattled.” He also contrasts the harsh noise of the saw with the “sweet” scent of the wood that the saw cuts into pieces. This is the first of the poem’s several contrasts (including serenity and violence, youth and adulthood, panic and calm, speech and silence, and, of course, life and death).

Lines 4-8

Frost clarifies the setting in these lines: the action is occurring in rural Vermont, and from where the boy is working one can see five mountain ranges. This peaceful and picturesque sight, like the “sweet-scented” wood mentioned earlier, contrasts the horrors that are about to occur. The sun is setting and day is ending — as the boy’s life will end at the conclusion of the poem. Frost reminds the reader of the saw’s power by repeating the words “snarled and rattled.”

Lines 9-12

The speaker expresses his wish that someone — presumably an adult — would have told the boy to “Call it a day”; doing so would have prevented the accident. The speaker’s wish raises the issue of the boy behaving (and eventually dying) like a man, an issue that becomes more pronounced as the poem proceeds. A boy loves to gain a half hour and be “saved from work,” but this boy did not (as the speaker hints) receive such a lucky reprieve.

Lines 13-18

The section describes the accident as well as the speaker’s attempt to make sense of why it happened in the first place. The image of the girl in an apron yelling, “Supper!” recalls the idea of the boy behaving like an adult — like her brother, she is helping with the chores and, in doing so, entering the world of adulthood. After her announcement, the speaker first suggests that the saw, in an attempt to show its intelligence, “Leaped out at the boy’s hand.” Again, personification is used to imply that the saw has a mind of its own. However, the speaker realizes that this is simply impossible, and qualifies his initial description of the saw’s “leap” with the phrase, “or seemed to leap.” His confusion over why such a thing happened increases in the next lines: “He must have given the hand. However it was, / Neither refused the meeting.” Ultimately, all the speaker can conclude is that both the boy and the saw had a “meeting,” which itself is an odd term, since “meeting” usually describes a meeting of people with other people, not inanimate objects. Thus, the speaker cannot wholly abandon the notion of the personified saw and, although he has already discounted such an idea (with “or seemed to leap”), he clings to it as one possible way to explain the boy’s otherwise meaningless death.

Lines 19-22

As the previous lines depict the speaker’s reaction to the accident, these lines depict the boy’s reaction. The reader learns that the boy’s “first outcry was a rueful laugh” — a decidedly adult reaction combining immense sorrow, disbelief, and an ironic commentary on the situation. The image of the boy trying to keep his hand balanced on his arm “to keep / The life from spilling” contrasts that of the “Five mountain ranges one behind the other” first presented to the reader.

Lines 22-27

After his initial panic, the boy becomes prophetic. (According to many old legends and mythologies, dying people could suddenly have visions of the future.) Since the boy is about to die a “man’s” death, he is “old enough to know” that nothing will save him after losing so much blood.

The speaker recalls the idea of the boy’s entering the world of adulthood when he calls him a “big boy / Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart.” The boy’s pleadings to his sister — his only spoken words in the poem — reflect his age and create a sense of the pathetic nature of his death. The reader is moved, but the speaker seems cold: his reaction to the boy’s plea is, “So. But the hand was gone already.” This decidedly detached response reflects the speaker giving up his search for explanations for the accident. All he can say is, “So” (for the boy’s expression of terror needs no explanation) and “But the hand was gone already.” While the speaker earlier dwelled on the possibility of personification, he has now retreated into the world of facts. There is, ultimately, nothing to say about the boy’s death other than the facts that led up to it

Lines 28-32

These lines describe the doctor’s attempts at saving the boy and the boy’s final breaths. The “dark of ether” into which the doctor guides the boy is like the underworld to which many mythological heroes journey — another of the poem’s ironies. When told that the boy “puffed out his lips with his breath,” the reader is invited to contrast this image with the earlier one of the boy running and yelling to his sister. Like all living things, he has moved from a world of noisy action to one of quiet stillness. Like the earlier statement, “But the hand was gone already,” the description of the boy’s final moments is shocking because of the detached tone in which it is described: “Little — less — nothing! — and that ended it.”

Lines 33-34

The final lines reflect the speaker’s turning wholly toward an attitude of detachment and seeming indifference. His final remark of how both the doctor and the family “turned to their affairs” seems callous and almost offensive (especially with he word “affairs,” implying that they all began riffling through their social calendars) — but one must keep in mind that the language here is more figurative than literal. Eventually they “turned to their affairs,” since there is simply nothing else for them to do. Since there is “No more to build on there” and “they / Were not the one dead,” the adults must continue their lives, bereft of both the boy and any solid explanation for why he had to die such a terrible death


“Out, Out — ” is written in blank verse: unrhymed iambic pentameter, which is five feet of one iamb (an unstressed followed by a stressed syllable) each. Of course, Frost varies the accented syllables throughout the poem to avoid having his speaker’s voice become too regular and stilted; thus the poem is still in blank verse, but blank verse that is highly modulated to emphasize the importance of particular words and ideas. (The best examples of modulated blank verse are Shakespeare’s plays.) An example of Frost altering the strict iambic pentameter to make the sound echo the sense occurs in the boy’s pleadings to his sister:
He saw all spoiled. “Don’t let him cut my hand off —
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!”
So. But the hand was gone already.

In the fist line above, Frost substitutes a spondee (two stressed syllables) in the second foot to emphasize the gravity of the boy’s sudden recognition of his own death. Frost also dangles an extra syllable at the end of the line; the rhythm is therefore somewhat uneven, reflecting the boy’s panic. The next line is regular blank verse (again with an extra syllable at the end); Frost lulls the reader back into the expected meter, only to upset him again with the next line, which begins with a trochee, adding more shock value to the speaker’s comment (“So”) before again resuming the expected meter. A reader with a sensitive ear can detect this kind of metrical variation in almost every line of the poem.

Frost also uses personification when describing the saw. Phrases like “snarled and rattled” emphasize the saw’s apparent ferocity; the lines, “the saw, / As if to prove saws knew what supper meant, / Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap — ” reinforce the idea that the saw is a sentient machine, suddenly tempted into revealing its intelligence by “eating” the boy’s hand. Ironically, the poem as a whole depicts a personified thing attacking a living boy — who, at the end of the poem, becomes as inanimate as the thing that seemed to attack him.

The poem’s final couplet features a number of important metrical maneuvers. “No more to build on there” is strictly iambic, which creates the sense of the speaker citing some adage or easily-remembered piece of wisdom. The repetition of “they” reinforces the idea that the family is considering what to do with themselves now that the boy is dead — a major issue of the poem. In the poem’s final line, Frost substitutes a spondee in the third foot, emphasizing the “one dead” about whom nobody seems to know what to say, as well as the verb “turned,” which suggests a physical and emotional retreat from the horror at hand.


Childhood Versus Adulthood

“Out, Out — ” concerns a boy who loses his hand — and then his life — in an accident involving a buzz saw with which he is working on a rural Vermont farm. The boy is initially portrayed as a “big boy / Doing a man’s work.” He is using the buzz saw in an attempt to behave in a grown-up way, as children will often become their parents’ “little helpers” in an attempt to assert their independence and maturity. (This is what his sister is doing by wearing an apron and announcing “Supper” as if she is the matriarch of the family.) The fact that he is cutting wood with a buzz saw — truly a dangerous and “adult” piece of machinery — attests to his desire to be a “big boy,” helping with the chores. Despite that fact, the boy would be pleased with having been given “the half hour / That a boy counts so much when saved from work,” he continues sawing the wood for his family’s stove, willingly contributing to the literal and figurative warmth of his home.

However, once the accident occurs, the boy begins figuratively “Doing a man’s work” by dying like a man. In the second it takes the saw to “leap” at his hand, the boy enters an adulthood marked by violence, fear, and death. Although the boy wanted to behave like a “big boy,” once the accident occurs, he betrays his age by crying like a terrified child:
“Don’t let him cut my hand off — The doctor, when
he comes. Don’t let him, sister!”

His subsequent death is met with shock, for “No one believed” that such a random accident could so quickly snuff out the life of a boy. But these same adults eventually view the death in a way that shocks the reader: “And they, since they / Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.” This “turning away” from the boy is not literal, but metaphorical — adults know that grief must be controlled, lest it consume one’s life. According to “Out, Out — ,” adulthood demands this kind of eventual response. A conclusion in which Frost described the sorrow of the parents, for example, would imply that their grief could never be abated — and although Frost is not implying that the parents’ grief will only be a temporary feeling, he does suggest that, ultimately, all people “turn to their affairs” to some degree after a tragedy in order to resume their lives.

The Meaninglessness of Life

Upon learning of the death of his wife, Shakespeare’s Macbeth remarks, “Out, out, brief candle” and compares human life to

a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

Macbeth sees life as a series of events tumultuous in themselves but not leading up to any greater theme or ideal. A tale literally “told by an idiot” would be contradictory and illogical — which is exactly how he views all human endeavor when he speaks these lines.

Frost’s poem evokes Macbeth’s pessimistic philosophy through its descriptions of the buzz saw, the boy’s terror, and the adults when faced with the boy’s death. The saw is, indeed, “full of sound” from the very first lines of the poem:
The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard And
made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood.

— and the personification is repeated when the speaker states
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled, As it ran light, or had to bear a load.

The “fury” of the saw, of course, is seen in its “attack” upon the boy, when it “Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap.” Similarly, the boy is full of “sound and fury,” offering first a “rueful laugh” and then a series of pleas as he tries to prevent “The life from spilling” out of his arm.

All of this noise and motion, however, ultimately builds to no great event or insight on the part of the characters. The boy dies in a noticeably quiet moment (“They listened at his heart”) and all the reader is told of this death is that there is “No more to build on there.” Flights of angels do not sing the boy to his rest, nor do any of the adults pause to consider the tenuous nature of human life. The boy dies for no reason at all (for surely a self-aware saw is no real reason), and his death leaves the adults silent. The “sound and fury” of both the boy and the saw have “signified nothing,” which accounts for the chilling effect of the poem’s final lines.

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Out Out – Robert Frost – مدونة الجمعية العلمية للغات و التر

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