Ciardi: A New Way of
In John Ciardi’s “Robert Frost: The Way to the
Poem”, he deconstructs Frosts’ “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and
displays a new way of poetic analysis. He sheds a light on not just the
stereotypical analytic question of what does the poem mean, but how does the
poem mean and its relation to the nature of poetry. He explains this aspect by
exhibiting the extensive suggestive ideas presented by Frost. Also, to delve
deeper into the literary components that compose literary works.
discusses the importance of understanding the underlying meanings in poetry and
gives Frost as an example. This can be seen on page 3 when Ciardi exclaims
“Many readers are forever unable to accept the poet’s essential duplicity. It
is almost safe to say that a poem is never about what it seems to be about”.
The question of How a poem means is a deeper in-depth concept of analysis
itself which is suggested by this statement. The duplicity in meaning that a
poet implement is essential to the readers full understanding of the poem. This
suggests that regarding the nature of poetry analysis is beneficial; however,
one can’t just scratch the surface when doing so. For example, in Frost’s poem
on lines 6-8, he says “To stop without a farmhouse near, between the woods and
frozen lake. The darkest evening of the year”. The double entendre being
presented here is the surrendering of a person or loss of hope to stop in the
middle of the night in the freezing cold. The darkest night of the year also
meaning one of the hardest and trying times in your life. Also, the topic of
the challenge of perseverance is exhibited on lines 7 when Frost says between
the woods and the frozen lake. This meaning being stuck between a rock and a
hard place, no matter what direction is taken the same dreadful outcome will
occur. In essence, you will still be stuck in the same place until someone
changes to affect the outcome. This method of finding the extensive suggestion
of ideas presented and so many others displays answers the question of how it
means. This is achieved by being more analytical in thought and presenting a
creative way to how the reader thinks not just what to think about.
aspect to the question to the nature of a poem’s how to mean is the literary
aspects that comprise it. When a literary analysis is being done one can’t just
define and explain how the device relates to the poem. For a deeper
understanding, one must go detail into detail and find the deeper meaning.
Also, to show how these elements impact the overall meaning of the poem and the
how it impacts the reader’s interpretation of it. Ciardi takes an interesting
standpoint on this idea. On page 3 Ciardi exclaims “The dramatic force of that
performance is best observable, I believe, as a progression in three scenes”.
By Ciardi setting his analysis up this way he breaks the poem up into 3 scenes
and picks apart each detail and included literary elements to further the
understanding. A deeper look at literary elements in a poem can be seen with
Frost’ poem. For example, on lines 15-16 He states, “And miles to go before I
sleep, And miles to go before I sleep”. Repetition being the literary device
here the repetition of the phrase And miles to go before I sleep. Breaking this
apart detail by detail the miles to go being repeated puts emphasis on how long
he has or the amount of year he must live. The miles meaning the distance and
passing of time. As well as the before I sleep not just meaning the tiring or
exhaustion of the person. The deeper meaning being an eternal sleep or death.
The essence of this except being carpe diem or make the most out of life while
you are still on this earth. By picking these details apart we see how this
impacts the meaning of the poem and how it can also teach the reader a lesson.
Ciardi took an interesting stance on how we analyze and deconstruct a poem. In
his analysis of Robert Frosts’ “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” in his
essay titled “Robert Frost: The Way to the Poem”. He discusses Frosts
underlying ideas and suggestive ideas. Along with the idea of delving into the
deeper meaning of the literary elements and devices that makes up poems. I have
learned that we should always find the meaning of a poem; however, how should
one go about finding that meaning and how does this process impact our
understanding of poems and literary work in general.