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Neither Out Far Nor In Deep Analysis



Author: Poetry of Robert Frost Type: Poetry Views: 3772

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A Further Range1936The people along the sand

All turn and look one way.

They turn their back on the land.

They look at the sea all day.As long as it takes to pass

A ship keeps raising its hull;

The wetter ground like glass

Reflects a standing gullThe land may vary more;

But wherever the truth may be--

The water comes ashore,

And the people look at the sea.They cannot look out far.

They cannot look in deep.

But when was that ever a bar

To any watch they keep?






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

.: :.

Themes:
• Determination and perseverance in a futile pursuit
• Searching for something deeper to life
• Limitations and x people along the sand / All turn and look one way”  A lack of detachment and individuality. They are neither searching in a different way to their counterparts, nor their predecessors.
• “They turn their back on the land. / They look at the sea all day.”  They are desperate to discover something supernatural or deeper, and this urgency they fail to learn all that they can from the openly available things in life. Perhaps they are too concerned with the unknown that they fail to introspect, and make sense of the readily available things. Perhaps the sea resembles heaven or an after-life, that can only be comprehended after death, whilst the land can be studied in great detail whilst alive. Mankind is so concerned with discovering the mysteries of the after-life and glimpsing the supernatural, that they fail to pick up on the intricacies and beauty of life itself.
• “The wetter ground like glass / Reflects a standing gull”  The only thing that can be gleaned from focusing on the supernatural (the sea) is merely a reflection of things in life, i.e. on the land (the gull). It also resembles that a natural thing such as the gull is content with its position on the land, whilst the sheer curiosity of man leads to constantly striving to gain something more, and in these attempts he fails to grasp the readily available pleasures.
• “The land may vary more; / But wherever the truth may be – The water comes ashore, / And the people look at the sea”  The land / life may in fact be more interesting than the supernatural, so one should focus on what is actually available. When indeed the supernatural does briefly make itself known, it does this inland, i.e. to those who are not actively searching for it. Hence the people looking at the sea miss it. I believe that this is a Transcendentalist poem, whereby the people who look at the land are working hard, and occasionally glimpse the divine through their work, when “The water comes ashore.”
• Meanwhile those he seek the supernatural, the Romanticists if you will, will never glimpse this divine  “They cannot look out far. / They cannot look in deep.”
• However, man is set in his ways, and will not be changed by those trying to convince him otherwise  “But when was that ever a bar / To any watch they keep?”
Meaning:
• Many people are trying to gain something more from life, in other words to glimpse the supernatural, and they do this in the same manner, by “look[ing] at the sea all day.” Consequently they miss the readily available meaning and pleasure in life. Furthermore, those who spend their time looking at the end, working perhaps, are the ones who occasionally glimpse the supernatural when it “washes ashore.” However, despite the futility of their mission to see the divine, they continue to watch the sea. The mysteries and the unknown may be revealed in the after-life, so whilst alive one should concentrate on experiencing the mysteries of the land.
• According to Frost’s biographer Jeffrey Meyers, “It mocks Frost’s imperceptive critics, who turn their back on the reality of the land and look pointlessly at the sea all day.” “The manifest limitations of his dull-witted critics, he says, never prevented them from searching for meanings in his verse, and their stupidity was never a bar to any watch they keep.”
• One reading of the poem could be that the lack of solid meaning in it is emblematic of the sea and supernatural, hence during life one should focus on the clear-cut facts available on the land.

| Posted on 2011-05-01 | by a guest


.: :.

It seems that Frost is exploring peoples attitudes in this poem. He begins by observing the people 'all turn and look one way./ They turn their back on the land./ They look at the sea all day.' The speaker here views these people in a state of detachment, as a great mass with no individuality who focus on mysteries they cannot comprehend. This perhaps inadvertently reflects Frosts state of mind and questions the purpose of his poetry.
The speaker remarks that 'The land may vary more: / But wherever the truth may be- / The water comes ashore, / And the people at the sea.' This suggests that the speaker can see things the people are looking for, which are readily available, yet the people are too ignorant to see them as they are too busy concerning themselves with the unknown.
At the end of this poem the speaker remarks on how the people cannot 'look out far' nor 'in deep' and seems to be criticising people's ability to understand the great mysteries of humankind, yet cannot introspect and understand themselves either. But then contradicts himself remarking that there was 'a bar' to any watch they keep, seeming that he accepts that they are unlikely to change, and that he has little right to criticise them.
The rhyme scheme employed in this poem is childlike, and the structure is simple. As so often in Frost this could hint at irony, that the speaker is so simple minded yet criticises others for possessing qualities which are within himself

| Posted on 2009-05-12 | by a guest




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