The Poetics of Robert Frost - Examples

Imagery
 
 
 Visual After Apple-Picking Once by the Pacific  Birches  October  Good Hours
 Auditory After Apple-Picking   Mowing  The Runaway An Old Man's Winter Night Stopping by Woods
 Olfactory After Apple-Picking  To Earthward "Out, Out"   Unharvested To a Young Wretch
 Gustatory After Apple-Picking To Earthward   Blueberries  A Record Stride The Exposed Nest
 Tactile After Apple-Picking   Moon Compasses The Death of the Hired Man
The Witch
of Coos
On Going Unnoticed
 Organic After Apple-Picking   Storm Fear  Birches The White- Tailed Hornet  Spring Pools
 Kinesthetic After Apple-Picking   Bereft  Ghost House  A Late Walk Once by the Pacific
               
Imagery
 
Imagery may be defined as the representation through language of sense experience. Poetry indirectly appeals to our senses through imagery. Imagery is more incidental to a poem than metaphors, symbols and theme and they are often confused. Nevertheless, an image should conjure up something more than the mere mentioning of the object or situation. A mistake often made is to take every image as though it were a symbol or metaphor. Frost called that "pressing the poem too hard." Starting with the examples below, see how many you can find in each poem.
 
There are 7 different kinds of imagery:
Visual imagery - something seen in the mind's eye
 
Examples:
After Apple-Picking - magnified apples appear and disappear...every fleck of russet showing clear
Once by the Pacific - the clouds were low and hairy...like locks blown forward in the gleam of eyes.
Birches - the iced branches shed "crystal shells"
October - Enchant the land with amethyst
Good Hours - the cottages up to their shining eyes in snow

Auditory imagery - represents a sound (Go back to table)
 
Examples:
After Apple-Picking - the rumbling .. of load on load of apples coming in.
Mowing - the scythe whispering to the ground
The Runaway - the miniature thunder... the clatter of stone
An Old Man's Winter Night - the roar of trees, the crack of branches, beating on a box
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening - the sweep of easy wind and downy flake

Olfactory imagery - a smell
 
Examples:
After Apple-Picking - Essence of winter sleep in on the night, the scent of apples
Note: just the mention of "the scent of apples" does not make it an image, but when connected to
"essence of winter sleep" the scent gains vividness.
To Earthward - musk from hidden grapevine springs
Out, Out - the sticks of wood "sweet scented stuff"
Unharvested - A scent of ripeness from over a wall...smelling the sweetness in no theft.
To a Young Wretch - the boy takes the tree and heads home, "smelling green"

Gustatory imagery - a taste
 
Examples:
After Apple-Picking - although not specifically mentioned, the taste of the apples is implied
To Earthward - I craved strong sweets ...now no joy but lacks salt
Blueberries - the blueberries as big as your thumb...with the flavor of soot
A Record Stride - the walking boots that taste of Atlantic and Pacific salt
The Exposed Nest - A haying machine passes over a bird nest without "tasting flesh"

Tactile imagery - touch, for example hardness, softness, wetness, heat, cold ...(table)
 
Examples:
After Apple-Picking - the fruit to "Cherish in hand"
Moon Compasses - "So love will take between the hands a face.."
The Death of the Hired Man - Mary touches the harplike morning-glory strings and plays some tenderness.
The Witch of Coos - the bed linens might just as well be ice and the clothes snow
On Going Unnoticed - You grasp the bark by a rugged pleat,/ And look up small from the forest's feet.

Organic imagery - internal sensation: hunger, thirst, fatigue, fear
 
Examples:
After Apple-Picking - My instep arch not only keeps the ache, It keeps the pressure of a ladder round
Storm Fear - My heart owns a doubt, It costs no inward struggle not to go
Birches - It's when I'm weary of considerations/ And life is too much like a pathless wood, etc
The White-Tailed Hornet - "To stab me in the sneeze-nerve of a nostril"
Spring Pools - the trees drinking up the pools and along with it, the flowers

Kinesthetic imagery - movement or tension ....(table)
 
Examples:
After Apple-Picking - "I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend."
Bereft - Leaves got up in a coil and hissed,/ Blindly struck at my knee and missed.
Ghost House - the black bats tumble and dart
A Late Walk - the whir of sober birds, is sadder than any words
Once by the Pacific: "Shattered water ...Great waves looked over others coming in,"
 
 
 
Return to The Poetics of Robert Frost