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Two Tramps In Mud Time Analysis

Author: Poetry of Robert Frost Type: Poetry Views: 3079

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A Further Range1936Out of the mud two strangers came

And caught me splitting wood in the yard,

And one of them put me off my aim

By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!"

I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind

And let the other go on a way.

I knew pretty well what he had in mind:

He wanted to take my job for pay.Good blocks of oak it was I split,

As large around as the chopping block;

And every piece I squarely hit

Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.

The blows that a life of self-control

Spares to strike for the common good,

That day, giving a loose to my soul,

I spent on the unimportant wood.The sun was warm but the wind was chill.

You know how it is with an April day

When the sun is out and the wind is still,

You're one month on in the middle of May.

But if you so much as dare to speak,

A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,

A wind comes off a frozen peak,

And you're two months back in the middle of March.A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight

And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume,

His song so pitched as not to excite

A single flower as yet to bloom.

It is snowing a flake; and he half knew

Winter was only playing possum.

Except in color he isn't blue,

But he wouldn't advise a thing to blossom.The water for which we may have to look

In summertime with a witching wand,

In every wheelrut's now a brook,

In every print of a hoof a pond.

Be glad of water, but don't forget

The lurking frost in the earth beneath

That will steal forth after the sun is set

And show on the water its crystal teeth.The time when most I loved my task

The two must make me love it more

By coming with what they came to ask.

You'd think I never had felt before

The weight of an ax-head poised aloft,

The grip of earth on outspread feet,

The life of muscles rocking soft

And smooth and moist in vernal heat.Out of the wood two hulking tramps

(From sleeping God knows where last night,

But not long since in the lumber camps).

They thought all chopping was theirs of right.

Men of the woods and lumberjacks,

They judged me by their appropriate tool.

Except as a fellow handled an ax

They had no way of knowing a fool.Nothing on either side was said.

They knew they had but to stay their stayAnd all their logic would fill my head:

As that I had no right to play

With what was another man's work for gain.

My right might be love but theirs was need.

And where the two exist in twain

Theirs was the better right--agreed.But yield who will to their separation,

My object in living is to unite

My avocation and my vocation

As my two eyes make one in sight.

Only where love and need are one,

And the work is play for mortal stakes,

Is the deed ever really done

For Heaven and the future's sakes.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

Only where love outstrips desire, lays the roots of passion bare and sets ablaze lesser motive, does it seize deciding, and being decided, cuts off from any other future play and heaven agrees for everyone's sake.

| Posted on 2015-08-10 | by a guest

.: :.

Yes, and more mudman's mind, infinity and finitude forever intertwined. Sidereal hope mauling sublime- oak and ivy, kindling and rhyme, the sharper edge of each defines.

| Posted on 2015-08-10 | by a guest

.: :.

Yes, and little else from mere mudman mine, infinity and finitude forever passing intertwined. Sidereal and hope sublime- subject, object, thou and i, dust, tenacity groping time.

| Posted on 2015-08-10 | by a guest

.: :.

Frost, pretty clearly, is asking for a kind of personal transformation, wanting to become the kind of person who does what is needed not because he will get paid for it but simply because he loves to do it. Avocation = vocation; love = need. I'm reminded of Helen Keller's line, "There is joy in self-forgetfulness"--we can get so completely absorbed in doing something we know to be of real value that the idea of reward for doing it makes no sense whatever. Self-consciousness can be a real bummer.

| Posted on 2013-09-11 | by a guest

.: :.

This is such a great poem with all the in-depth meaning. Would really recommend you read and analyse, as so many language techniques are used(see below comment)

| Posted on 2013-01-28 | by a guest

.: :.

This is a densely packed poem, and it\'s far beyond a few paragraphs to elucidate it fully-but I love it and want to share some of what I love.
In the poem, we are held in the tension of opposing forces: winter and spring; warmth and cold; philosophy and physical labor; have and havenot; power and want; work and play; aggression and self-discipline; hard oak, water, and mud.
There is a centering strand of moral choice that pulls together these elements. Loosing his blows upon a productive task instead of others who have aggravated him displays his self-discipline and commitment to the common good. A obvious choice in this same vein would be to let the needy tramp take over the job and gain both money and self-respect. However, that is arrogance disguised as charity. Mr. Sandburg needed the wood, needed the exertion and loved the work- there was no higher morality in ceding it to someone else because they were lesser and needier.

| Posted on 2010-10-12 | by a guest

.: :.

My favorite poem because it works on so many levels. The poet is chopping wood and enjoying the activity because it gives him an outlet for pent up emotions. He\'s been cooped up all winter. He likes it because he\'s good at it. The log pieces fall spliterless. And the experience is inhanced because the tramps want to take the job away from him. But.. Frost\'s work is writing poetry. Most agree he does it rather well. In poetry he gives loose to his soul. He clearly means more than merely chopping wood when he says the deed (writing) is done for heaven and the futures sake. Then the meaning expands to all work when the reader considers the ax. For Frost his brain, a metaphor, and a pen. For me a classroom, 27 juniors and an overhead. For an actor a costume and dialog. For Tiger Woods a golf club. And so much more.

| Posted on 2010-09-30 | by a guest

.: :.

Did anybody else find this to be dirty? maybe Robert Frost just expressing his naughty side?

| Posted on 2010-08-18 | by a guest

.: :.

The poem speaks about two people wanting to take the job of a man.

| Posted on 2010-04-28 | by a guest

.: :.

Anyone who carries a heart full of art can understand the "vocation" and "avocation" needing to meet as one. The two tramps are these two things; however, the two tramps are other things: duality itself, I think. (There are two dogs fighting in my head. Which one wins? The one I feed the most.) The layers of poetic reference are rich and complicated in their interconnections, and beautiful in their simplicity at the same time.

| Posted on 2009-10-27 | by a guest

.: :.

Two Tramps in Mud Time. What is mud time? It is, in the Literal context, a "mud time" What does mud signify? It is a symbol of dirtiness, yes, if you view this poem literally, but it also signifies hard and difficult times. This poem was set in the period just after winter, and just before spring. It highlihts the new life that is trying to come forth with the spring, and yet, the winter that is trying to supress the new life.

| Posted on 2009-10-01 | by a guest

.: :.

Regarding context, one cannot forget that the poem was written during the Great Depression of the 1930's. Not an uncommon sight, "tramps" were people to be both pitied and feared. Pitied because of their lamentable state, often due to no fault of their own, victims of a failed economy. Feared because they may have sinister intent; also feared because "there but for the grace of God go I." I believe this plays into Frost's poem in no small way, which translates into his reluctance to let another take on his task. He wants to help them, on the one hand, and allow them to keep their pride by working for whatever he may have to offer as assistance, but he does not want to be taken advantage of nor give away a task that signifies his own independence and ability to care for himself and his own. He has not lost everything, but giving over this task may be a symbol of giving up.

| Posted on 2008-10-06 | by a guest

.: Studying Frost :.

Frostian poetry is often a very poignant and dreary topic of study. howeverthis doesn't mean i don't have to study it for AS level (with the exam tomorrow 16/5/08) so i am just going over this poem, it makes such little sense it has become an incredulously difficult poem to understand.
Our teacher hasn't actually gone over it based on the hope it won't arise in the exam, but if it does i need to analyse it thematically and poetically
so here goes.
The poetic persona sems somewhat afraid of losing his jobs to those who need it, even if he (we assume it's male based on masculine word endings) enjoys the work and therefore will work harder for it seeing as though it is more of a hobby than a chore. However this could express Frost's insecurity with regards to his position in nature and the greater good. The greater good could e a nother liturgical reference seeing s though Frost appears to be a particularly god-fearing chap and as such it features within his work a lot. He holds the world in great disdain as he sits back and watches it become over-run with urbanisation and the demise of nature takes over. The poignancy becomes clear as this poem could be allegorical for a better time, Frost sees the world changing and problems that never were have become problematic to him now as he finds his job (within the poem) in comprimise.
The work itself could allude to society as a metaphor, much in the same way Mending Wall acts as an extended mtaphor for society and it's crippling problems. Frost's poetic persona sems very happy to chop wood and live life isolated and self reliant. The tramps could be a microcosm for society and it's need for integration in order for it to function, this could point to Frost's own lack of belonging in the ever modernising world.
Overall the poem is sad, reflective (much like The Road Not Taken) whch all in all proves that Robert Frost lived a somewat miserable existence and expressed this through his poetry, which i have been forced to learn and analyse in order to prove i can write properly.
hope this helps someone at some point
Jepha Howard

| Posted on 2008-05-15 | by a guest

.: Great Allegory. :.

Robert Frost was a miller, poet and teacher. He did undertake further studies, but never actually qualified. The key to this poem is the fact that he mentions both discipline and the greater good relatively early and near the end of the poem. His speaker talks about splitting wood, but the true activity is only alluded to by this allegory. It may be that he was speaking about his own involvement with education and being founding member of a school, and that some thought him ill equipped to be so involved. He however asserts his abilities several times by for instance saying that each blow splits the wood without causing it to splinter and explaining that he was accustomed to such labour later on. He in fact claims in the end that, even though their claim to being qualified for the job may be better substantiated than his, by virtue of it being their true vocation while it was only his avocation (An auxiliary activity, sideline or hobby), the fact that he brought together love (of the task or the person for whom it was being done) and did it not so much for glory or pay, would serve to accomplish more of a lasting nature. There are beautiful parallels to be drawn between the mud, the time of year, the rain and cold, the youth and strength of the speaker and various other aspects of this poem and the subject matter. I'll leave those to someone with more time... I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

| Posted on 2005-08-10 | by Lelik

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