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For Once, Then, Something Analysis



Author: Poetry of Robert Frost Type: Poetry Views: 2176

Others taught me with having knelt at well-curbs

Always wrong to the light, so never seeing

Deeper down in the well than where the water

Gives me back in a shining surface picture

Me myself in the summer heaven godlike

Looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.

Once, when trying with chin against a well-curb,

I discerned, as I thought, beyond the picture,

Through the picture, a something white, uncertain,

Something more of the depths--and then I lost it.

Water came to rebuke the too clear water.

One drop fell from a fern, and lo, a ripple

Shook whatever it was lay there at bottom,

Blurred it, blotted it out. What was that whiteness?

Truth? A pebble of quartz? For once, then, something.






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

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This poem refers to Frost\'s his critics (and perhaps admirers as well) who see in his poems the kind of imagery similar to that which is found in a Norman Rockwell painting.(Rockwell\'s skill demonstrates a beautiful, soft-hearted kind of imagery.) Early in this poem Frost \"Always wrong\" to the light, so never seeing deeper than to see his own reflections. Mockingly, he describes himself as appearing \"godlike\" while looking out through a \"wreath of ferns, and cloud puffs\" as he stares at the water in the bottom of a well. He admits he does see it the beauty in nature, yet he describes himself as being challenged to see \"beyond a picture, then through the picture.\" This poem explains that while there are truly majestic elements in the natural environment, Frost also sees beyond the immediate surface – regardless of it being an enchanted one. In the poem he says he did once see a glimpse of the \"truth\" through the well water which was, for at least one moment, still enough to see through. Suddenly the water is stirred by a drop of water from the very fern which earlier framed his vision. The stirring of the water is enough to hide the glimpse of truth he’d witnessed when the water was still and clear. Yet, he mocks this supposed truth - \"What was it? A pebble?\" which tells us he does not take this, \"truth\" too seriously.
\"For once, then, something,\" is the conclusion. For once, did he see something worthy of poetry? Leaving the enchanted beauty of nature behind as he forgets the cloud puffs and all. He says this as the fern\'s drop of water on the still plate of glass which provided the view to the image of truth was disturbed, thus stealing the poet\'s moment of hope – a metaphor fitting of the elusiveness of poetry.
He is seeing himself and writing what he sees. What else is there? He then mocks the possibility of seeing deeper which is a criticism made by one who doesn\'t see the sophistication of his composers.
t mellott 1-28-2010

| Posted on 2011-01-28 | by a guest


.: :.

This poem refers to Frost\'s his critics (and perhaps admirers as well) who see in his poems the kind of imagery similar to that which is found in a Norman Rockwell painting. It is beautiful and soft hearted kind of imagery. Early in this poem, Frost describes himself as appearing \"godlike\" when he is looking out through a \"wreath of ferns, and cloud puffs\" as he stares at the water in the bottom of a well. He admits he does see it the beauty – yet, he describes himself as seeing \"beyond a picture, then through the picture.\" This poem explains that while finding the environment as majestic as it is, he also sees beyond the immediate surface – regardless of it being an enchanted one or not. In the poem, he admits to seeing a glimpse of the \"truth\" though the well water which was, for at least one moment, still enough to see through. Suddenly the water is stirred, by a drop of water from the very fern which framed his vision moments earlier. The stirring is enough to hide the glimpse of truth he’d witnessed - \"For once then, nothing,\" is the conclusion. For once, he did see something worthy of poetry - then, it was again, nothing – leaving the enchanted beauty of nature behind as he forgets the cloud puffs and all. He says this as the fern\'s drop of water on the still plate of glass providing the view to truth was disturbed, steeling the poet\'s moment of truth – a description (perhaps a metaphor?) fitting of the elusiveness of poetry. t mellott 1-28-2010

| Posted on 2011-01-28 | by a guest


.: :.

In typical Frost style, the poem For Once, then Something concerns an at first seemlingly mundane demonstration of a an activity in Frost\'s own immediate environment which evolves and grows throughout the poem into a means of abstract consideration. In this poem, this consideration is mainly of his poetry and the purpose and perhaps clichés of poetry itself.
Frost\'s persona in the poem is seen to be trying to see \"something white\" down the bottom of a well, and is aware of \"others taunting\" him for his apparent inability to see beyond himself in his own reflection. He is maybe refering to critical response to his poetry alledging he can only reflect on himself and his immediate world. Perhaps Frost agrees with them, that they are able to see more than him? Or perhaps the show of poetric skill to follow the statement \"others taunt me with having knelt at well-curbs always wrong to the light, so never seeing\" is meant as ironic? We can never be sure, as Frost had an exteme affinity for ambiguity in his poetry.
He is shown to only see \"[himself] in the summer heaven, godlike looking out of a wreath of fern and cloud puffs.\" which has either of two hidden connotations. Firstly, the use of \"heaven\" and \"godlike\" quite obviously suggest he is like God; a creator, perhaps of his own poetry and the image of a halo represented by himself seeing his face looking DOWN, like God does, surrounded by a circle of light, the wreath of fern adding an extra hint of that. Alternitavely, the god concerned could be somewhat like Narcissus, who was unable to see but his own reflection in the water. Is Frost then being ironic and/or self critical again? Once more, we can only guess!
The tone up until now has been of reflection but at \"Once\" it changes to a more reinforced uncertainty. The ammount of commas and therefore different clauses in the next few lines are to enhance the rambling struggle to explain what it is really poetry even seeks out to solve. It parodies the old symbolism of white things with \"something white\" - usually seen as very many things smybolised eg. purity, spirituality etc, and follows straight after with the word \"uncertain\" to show that no one actually can ever attain the meaning of the \"something white\". Another \"something\", this time \"more of the depths\" ie water. Water is also seen as a clichéd thing in poetry, smybolised to the hilt! The sudden hyphon is followed by a blunt \"and then I lost it\", showing the futility of any attempt to suggest poetry PRODUCES the answers. Rather, it only shows possible sides with no guarantee they are the truth.
Even then, a symbol of symbolism, Water, \"rebukes\" water that has become \"too clear\", in other words too transparent, for being as such! It\'s almost like Frost feels that the mysteries of life and particularly Nature seem as if they are deliberately shrouded themselves in uncertainty and ambiguity. Just as Frost began to grasp a concept, metaphorised as beginning to see the \"something white\" at the bottom of the well, something else surrounded by doubt came along and snatched his connection to it away from him; \"blurred it, blotted it out.\" Frost concludes that poetry is simply a maddening struggle to asses whether something(s) are abstract in meaning or concrete in existence: \"What was that whiteness? Truth [the ultimate abstract]? A pebble of quartz? For once, then something.\"
Hope people can see where my interpretation has come from!

| Posted on 2011-01-20 | by a guest


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I feel that it is sometimes overcomplicated in interpretation and that it is about self disovery. At first he can see himself looking into the well and it appears he is surrrounded by a \"wreath\" and appears \"God-like\" which may be interpreted as a strong ego or perhaps that the protagonist feels near death(or metaphorical death)Ie career. the author sees \"something white\" in the well, then it disappears, perhaps an expression of lost ideas and creativity. An idea which at a glance has seemed significant is in the well of his mind but is may never resurface and has probably been lost forever as he cannot recall it.

| Posted on 2010-10-27 | by a guest


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The poem is alluding to the Greek myth of the god Narcissus.

| Posted on 2010-04-10 | by a guest


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I am a psychologist and philosopher. I am not an objective expert in American poetry analysis; I am, however, a subjective expert. This is what I see in Robert Frost's poem, For Once, Then Something:
No doubt from other notable writers and philosophers, Frost had heard of the quite mystical and mysterious phenomenon of momentary transcendence of self. Even though he considered himself a simple man, he knew that shouldn't matter; he knew that there was something "beyond the picture," but he wondered if he'd ever actually seen it. He thought about this quite often, then he recalled a time when he did appear to glimpse "something more of the depths." He's careful not to overcomplicate or analyze this, as to do so would diminish its meaning; indeed, Frost alludes to the notion his own arrogance and attempt to figure out what he is experiencing at that moment disconnects him from a deeper understanding of his own existence, and this profound moment of revelation disappears.
If he is rebuking any critic, it is himself. But that is not what this poem is about at all. It is about transcendence of self, and how the illusions of self and our existence - if we let them - obscure our view of the true nature of the Universe.

| Posted on 2010-04-08 | by a guest


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The poem is Frost's rebuke to his critics who often labelled him as too simple minded. It is written in Hendecasyllabics, mimicking the style and attitude of the Latin poet Catullus who also often wrote comedic rebukes to his critics. Frost is "admitting" to being simple minded, saying "One time I almost saw something deeper, but then I lost it." But he does it in an extremely learned way (He knew Greek and Latin) making extremely learned allusions that his critics most likely didn't even get, hence the irony of being branded as simple minded. This is a brilliant poem and response to critics. See also Tennyson's poem called Hendecasyllabics.

| Posted on 2010-02-16 | by a guest


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Just brainstorming here.
Water is often a biblical symbol for the Holy Spirit.
Light, of course, symbolizes Jesus Christ.
The "wreath (crown)" and "god-like" has obvious implications of the writer's pride. One drop of pride his pride (and worldly influences) and he has trouble discerning the ultimate truths - i.e. he's getting in his own way.
Matthew 16:26 (New International Version)
26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?

| Posted on 2010-01-28 | by a guest


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I disagree with post 2007-05-03 in that the speaker is not merely dismissing his observation. The speaker has persisted at 'kneeling at well-curbs' and has continued to search their depths even after being ridiculed. Then, finally, after putting in so much effort and receiving no support, he sees something. He is not even sure what it is or whether it is even more important than a pebble, but he sees something. And that disappointingly faint glimmer is the glimmer of hope that spurs him on: 'for once, then, something' is really saying 'finally, I have seen something'; conveying both frustration and shaken yet persisting hope.

| Posted on 2009-11-03 | by a guest


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This reprint contains a major typo - the word should be 'taunt' not 'taugh' - the first sentence should read: Others taunt me with having knelt...

| Posted on 2008-06-24 | by a guest


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Frost is known for his homespun philosophy and comments on the human condition. the speaker seems to have been taught to see only the surface of things, not delving into their depths. this superficial way of seeing things may reflect one nuance of the human condition. This white object which is seen until the ripple blocks it out (not his references to nature) could represent many things, perhaps the colour white invites the reader to think that the speaker has momentarily seen into something deeper, and pure. The speaker seems to almost shrug off what he has seen by repeating the title of the poem; for once, then something.

| Posted on 2007-05-03 | by a guest


.: Frost, For Once, Then, So :.

The poem gives the impression that others have taught him to see things one way only, yet on one occasion, while looking in a different light, the speaker sees something in the reflection of his image that he has never seen it before. He tries to capture and describe what he sees, yet it eludes him. This brief encounter leads to the question as to whether he has seen this brief image correctly. This encournter also points out that he has been taught to see one way only and this may be incorrect.

| Posted on 2005-11-07 | by Approved Guest




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