An Analysis of the Armful

An analysis of the poem “The Armful” by Robert Frost In Robert Frost’s “The Armful” the speaker in the poem is not defined, but that is of no consequence, as the feeling of frustration that is conveyed in the poem’s first four lines could have been expressed by either a man or a woman. The speaker is not speaking to anyone in particular in the poem but it can be inferred that he is speaking to the reader on a higher level as, speaking literally; everyone can empathize with the feelings of frustration a person struggling to carry and balance too many packages conveys.
In the poem the speaker has gone for groceries, probably without help, over shopped and is having a difficult time with all the bags he must carry. The packages slip from the speaker’s hands and he tries to catch them with his knees all the while still trying balance the rest of the his packages. In the end the he is forced to drop the groceries and find a better way of packing them back in the bags. Although the tone from the onset is that of frustration by the end it changes to something more positive. It can then be inferred that the theme of this poem is one of hope.
The poem creates an image of someone who is in need of help and is alone, not necessarily lonely as in need of social capital, but alone on the inside. The constant, repetitive use of the word ‘I’ supports the idea and feeling of isolation even though, as the reader, it is easy to put one’s self in that situation and to feel as if you were there watching. It has to be assumed that the author is not literally writing about someone’s troubles during a routine shopping trip. Take, for instance, lines three (3) and four (4) ‘And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns, Extremes too hard to comprehend at.

Once’. One can connote that it has more to do with the abstract, inner most problems of the authors mind as opposed to actual contents of a brown paper bag. These Images are brought to life in this rhythmic poem by the use of figurative language, particularly through the use of metaphor and symbolism. The rhythmic patterns of the poem can be seen at the end of each line. Here are the first two lines of the poem as an example of the rhyme scheme ‘For every parcel I stoop down to seize I lose some other off my hands and knees’.
An example of alliteration can be seen in the second line when the author writes ‘ And the whole pile slipping, bottles, buns’. The implied comparisons or metaphors are abundant in this short poem. In fact it can be said with certainty that the poem is one big metaphor. Robert Frost uses this poem to explore deep feelings within himself and within everyone. Once again using lines three (3) and four (4) as an example ‘And the whole pile slipping, bottles, buns, Extremes too hard to comprehend at once’ is a metaphor for the complexity of the mind.
The author’s problems are like a whirlwind that makes his mind slip. Whether the problem is heavy symbolized by the bottles or lighter symbolized by the buns they hold equal weight in the space of the mind, that to this date we barely understand the inner workings of. In the next two lines, ‘Yet nothing I should care to leave behind. With all I have to hold with hand and mind. ’ Foster is implying that his problems are so great and unmanageable that he cannot stop thinking about them.
In the next two line, lines seven (7) and eight (8), he gives the reader a glimpse that his problems may be more than in his head. It reads ‘And heart, if need be, I will do my best. To keep their building balanced at my breast’. This infers that his problems may also be emotional and he is trying hard to balance the two. In the last four lines is where the theme of the poem starts to take shape and one can see that all is not lost. In lines nine (9) and ten (10) the speaker says ‘I crouch down to prevent them all as they fall; then sit down in the middle of them all’.
The speaker at this point realizes that he is carrying too much both mentally and emotionally and decides to stop and analyze what is happening to him, take it slow and figure something out. By the time line eleven (11) and twelve (12) come around one can surmise that the speaker has had enough of his problems and is actively looking for a way to fix things, a way to deal with his problems, as the speaker states ‘I had to drop the armful in the road and try to stack them in a better load’. In The Armful Robert Frost has written a piece that almost anyone can relate to.
Everyone has had problems that seemed insurmountable but have mustered the courage and the will to supersede these hurdles and have gotten through them. In all, the author has used imagery, rhythmic sense, syntax that is not overly complicated and figurative language to forge a poem that can be considered a metaphor for life. Holding on to things can over complicate our lives and if one stops and thinks about what is really important ones loads will lightened. The poem is also symbolic of mans need to overcome adversity.

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