The Tuft of Flowers Robert Frost Annotations Power Point http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:T he_Veteran_in_a_New_Field_1865_Winslow _Homer.jpg Time is established and some ambiguity is suggested by ‘once’ - implies this is a reflection. Alliteration of ‘once after one’ – the singularity of human purpose Frost’s ‘sound of sense’ – physical action and senses are united. I went to turn the grass once after one Who mowed it in the dew before the sun. The dew was gone that made his blade so keen Before I came to view the levelled scene There is a sense that scene is one of destruction – devoid of life -a ruined place – contrast with later imagery. The negative connotations of the language ‘levelled’, and’ keen’, ‘blade’ and ‘gone’. The ‘levelled scene’ can also be interpreted as a metaphor for the persona’s perception of life and the world . Personal pronoun establishes the persona’s isolation and feeling of separateness. A reflection of a past event where ‘once’ he ‘went to turn the grass’ and how this had a transformative effect on his self understanding and an understanding of others. This is about a moment of illumination about the self – about individual understanding. Note the precision of the language to replicate the sound of the scythe and the effect on the persona of the mown field. Rhyming scheme suggests finality and dismay. Continuing use of personal pronouns. Sense of desperation in seeking the mower. Desire for fellowship and unity with another. Strict AA BB rhyme – couplets also may allude to notion of friendship and unity with another. Antithesis – whetstone and breeze. I looked for him behind an isle of trees; I listened for his whetstone on the breeze. Reference to the senses –’ looked for’, ‘listened for’ – yearning for another. Loneliness. ‘Isle of trees’ paradox – suggesting an ‘island’ - separateness. Paradox of life and death – nature and the scythe; of loneliness and unity But he had gone his way, the grass all mown, And I must be, as he had been – alone, ‘But’ suggests futility – left alone. Resignation that he was alone. Disconsolate at being alone - a disconcerting discovery – isolation in nature. A realisation that we are essentially always alone but how can we embrace this?. Sense of singularity as being the basis of the human condition. We are always alone – pathetic fallacy of isle of trees and man’s singularity. Paradox of ‘said’ and ‘within my heart’. A felt thought. Belief that there is no sense of connection between us if we are separate. Resigned to sense of loneliness and isolation. Personal dialogue – contemplative. Butterfly is ‘bewildered’ – personified. Represents the human psyche – seeking/lost/confused ‘As all must be, I said within my heart, ‘Whether they work together or apart.’ But as I said it, swift there passed me by On noiseless wing a bewildered butterfly, The use of ‘but’ alerts us to a change. Sudden intrusion into his melancholy reveries. Trying to make sense of human existence. Senses – ‘noiseless’ - unlike the plodding movement of the early part of the poem – now ‘swift’ energy and revitalisation. The butterfly is personified – repetition of ‘s’ a the beginning of lines suggests a growing drowsiness - wistfulness Need to rekindle memories to evoke positive thoughts. Lift the spirit. Flower is also personified. Nature taking on human qualities. Beginning of the realisation that nature imbues us with a kindred-ness. Notion of communication at a spiritual level. Seeking with memories grown dim o’er night Some resting flower of yesterday’s delight. And once I marked his flight go round and round, As where some flower lay withering on the ground Affirms a kind of directionless searching- seeking the right location – stored memory of beauty and place. Persona thinks the pursuit by the butterfly will be wasted – all the flowers are lying ruined in the field. Play on words – ‘eye could see’ – of seeing further – looking beyond the immediate. Hesitance of the psyche – returns to question. Two personas – ‘I’ and ‘he’ And then he flew as far as eye could see, And then on tremulous wing came back to me. I thought of questions that have no reply, And would have turned to toss the grass to dry; But he turned first, and led my eye to look The persona returns to his internal musings on the nature of existence – loneliness - but the butterfly has drawn his eye - note play on words of ‘eye’ -‘I’. Links to psyche and inner soul and later reference to ‘And dreaming as it were….’ suggests a reconciliation between the external and internal selves. A determination to see the world as good and beautiful regardless of being solitary. At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook, Linkage of the word ‘turned’ suggests a pivotal moment – note the repetition and significance of ‘eye’ and seeing. Contradiction in ‘tall’ and ‘tuft’. Both strong and fragile – repetition of ‘f’ sound – wispy aura. Fluttering moment – a coming to the moment of realisation and revelation. Image of flowers – a strident comment – a call to the persona to see them. Repetition of ‘s’ sound simulates the sound of the scythe cutting grass. Full stops suggest feeling of achievement. A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared. I left my place to know them by their name, Finding them butterfly weed when I came. ‘butterfly weed’ – the weeds offer beauty. – now blooms. Antithesis – contradiction of beauty and corruption/intrusions. Sheer joy at the morning’s beauty sees the mower leave the weed/flowers standing. The duality of existence – life and death/beauty and corruption. They do not diminish his work or his pleasure in nature. A leaping tongue – contradictory image – force of nature to engage the persona – it speaks to him through its urgent stand ‘leaping’ and colour – ‘bloom’. Life in the face of death symbolised by the flowers ‘bloom’ and the ‘scythe’. Contradiction of the mower not thinking of the persona yet the persona makes a decision to see the flowers as a symbol of unity with the mower. Repetition of sounds – ‘thus’ ‘flourish’ ‘us’ and consonance of ‘gladness’. Unity evoked through sound and imagery of ‘dew,’ ‘morning’ and ‘brim’ suggests lifting mood. Persona has undergone a spiritual renewal and intellectual awareness. The mower in the dew had loved them thus, By leaving them to flourish, not for us, Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him. But from sheer morning gladness at the brim. Persona sees the mower as benevolent even though he gave no thought to the persona. The flowers are spared : the mower ‘s shared joy of their beauty sharing beauty with others. Leaving the flowers standing – an act of fellowship with those that may come to the field later. An enlightening moment for the persona – that humans share beauty whether it be art, nature, thoughts, love, writing etc. - all are acts of fellowship left for others to share. Belief in the power of nature to evoke life. Accepts the mower did not think of others sharing in the beauty of the flowers but shares a common understanding of the power of nature’s beauty to encourage life and living. The ‘butterfly and I’ –the persona’s psyche now finding balance and unity in this moment of insight. Alerts his senses – stimulates his awareness of the beauty of the world. Goes beyond the physical lack of human contact to something much more sublime – the notion of transcendence from the physical world to the spiritual. Both have listened to the ‘dawn’. Man in communication with natural landscape. Couplets are punctuated with commas – faster pace and greater fluency as the persona’s mood rises reflecting the intensity of his discovery The butterfly and I had lit upon, Nevertheless, a message from the dawn, That made me hear the wakening birds around, And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground, Senses are awakened. Listens to nature and heeds its offerings. Symbolism of birds and butterflies – flight – liberation of feelings. The persona has come to an awakening about his existence and need for companionship. A greater understanding of the meaning of fellowship – transcends physical and incorporates the imagination and the emotional. Unity of all living things. Whether together or apart, imagination and spirituality are a unifying bond with all things in nature. A shift to unity of the sense – persona now ‘feels a spirit kindred to my own’ – resolution of the sense of separateness and isolation. Integration of the internal feelings of loneliness resolved through awareness of human spirit to rise to the beauty in nature. Duality of inner self and external world resolved – he has found balance in natural world and a belief in man’s place in the wider meaning of life, death and nature. Persona’s personal voice - rising mood. Positive tone established through ‘kindred’, ‘glad’ . And feel a spirit kindred to my own; So that henceforth I worked no more alone; But glad with him, I worked as with his aid, And weary, sought at noon with him the shade Belief in the power of work and toil in nature to be life affirming and spiritually uplifting achieved through the unifying of the spirit and being. Here ‘But’ is revisited – now implies something good. Renewed optimism. Unity with the butterfly- a sense of companionable solace in working together But glad with him, I worked as with his aid, And weary, sought at noon with him the shade; Optimism evident in language of ‘dreaming’, ‘brotherly’ – And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech achieved a sense of spiritual communication With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach. ‘Men work together,’ I told him from the heart, ‘Whether they work together or apart.’ The discovery of the spiritual unity that can exist if we use our imagination and listen to the natural world. An understanding that fellowship transcends physical presence – shared sense of experience, imagination and aesthetics of nature Lost in the absorption of the butterfly ‘s search for beauty and the memory of a flower in a field now ‘levelled’, the persona makes a realisation about a need for fellowship and companionship. In a quest for unity with his fellow man there is an equally satisfying unity and contentment in nature when we become mesmerised or absorbed in the beauty of nature. The greatest fellowship may occur when we allow our thoughts, our being and the natural world to merge . It is when we consciously seek fellowship that we perhaps will be disappointed or lack awareness of the richer opportunities for introspection and reflection when we are alone with our thoughts and the natural landscape. Sometimes discoveries can be unexpected and seemingly insignificant yet when realised they make for enriching and maturing experiences – they can be enduring and become part of the development of our adult selves. Such moments offer new understandings of ourselves and our place in the world. These moments of reverie and insight help us to accept the nature of human being – that in solitude there is opportunity for reinvigoration of the psyche – that nature and its beauty can be a salve for loneliness or loss. The landscape and our place in the landscape offers redemptive opportunities to the human spirit that go beyond the material and social world of human activity. As such we develop new perceptions of our selves and our relationships with others. Such moments allow us to re-evaluate our place in the world and even the importance of earlier discoveries. Such discoveries are intensely personal and individualistic. It is through such even the most mundane experiences of our daily lives that we can make insightful and intensely meaningful discoveries.