Tuesday, January 21, 2014


In Robert Frost's poem, "Home Burial" a man and wife are witnessed by the reader in the throws of grief. Each spouse is in a very different place emotionally regarding the loss of their child. But the poem's primary conflict deals with the fact that the wife will not accept her husband's help. For what man could possibly understand losing something that grew within you? What man can understand being the soil that brought forth a spring bud, only to watch what kicked inside you whither and die?

Over and again the husband tries in vain to be the help his wife clearly needs. He sees the small grave outside the window, the one she never fails to stop and stare at while on the stairs. She momentarily lets herself 'cower under him', a line which recalls the child's conception and the potential for relief in her lover's arms. But she does not choose that route. Instead she withdraws to that place that only women can attend. When he says that he sees it, she tell him he does not.

"Don't don't don't don't" forever negating him and denying him his perfect right to grieve alongside her. No. She doesn't share this pain with him. She withdraws to that ultimate interior: the hollow empty womb and mourns alone for what is no longer there.

This quiet man is thus alienated from his wife as she pushes him away, in pain. He was cavalier with the shovel and the soil, as if he could have buried the child in a more correct manner. By withdrawing and alienating her husband, the mother in "Home Burial" puts three souls at risk, to spite the one she could not keep.

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