'The Telephone' by Robert Frost

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'When I was just as far as I could walk

From here today,

There was an hour

All still

When leaning with my head again a flower

I heard you talk.

Don't say I didn't, for I heard you say--

You spoke from that flower on the window sill-

Do you remember what it was you said?'

'First tell me what it was you thought you heard.'

'Having found the flower and driven a bee away,

I leaned on my head

And holding by the stalk,

I listened and I thought I caught the word--

What was it?Did you call me by my name?

Or did you say--

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Telephone by Robert Frost: A Masterpiece of Poetry

Have you ever experienced the joy of rediscovering an old poem that you read a long time ago? That's exactly how I felt when I stumbled upon "The Telephone" by Robert Frost. Although I had read it before, I had forgotten how much I loved it. As I read it again, I was struck by the power of its imagery, the depth of its themes, and the beauty of its language.

In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will explore the various aspects of "The Telephone" that make it a masterpiece of poetry. From its form and structure to its themes and symbols, I will delve deep into the heart of this poem to uncover its hidden meanings and messages.

Form and Structure

Let's start with the form and structure of "The Telephone." At first glance, it may seem like a simple poem with a straightforward narrative. It tells the story of a man who receives a phone call from his lover, who is away from him. The conversation between the two of them is interrupted by the sound of a bird outside the man's window, which reminds him of his own mortality and the fleeting nature of life.

However, if we look closer, we can see that the poem is much more than just a story. It is a carefully crafted work of art, with each line and stanza serving a specific purpose. For example, the poem is written in free verse, which means that it doesn't follow a strict rhyme or meter. This gives the poem a natural, conversational tone, which makes it feel like we are eavesdropping on a real phone conversation.

Moreover, the poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which has a distinct tone and mood. The first stanza is light and playful, as the man and woman exchange flirtatious banter on the phone. The second stanza is more serious and contemplative, as the man reflects on the passing of time and the inevitability of death. The third stanza brings the poem full circle, as the man returns to the present moment and the conversation with his lover.

The use of enjambment is also notable in this poem. Enjambment is when a line of poetry runs over into the next line without a pause. Frost uses this technique to create a sense of continuity and to blur the boundaries between the different stanzas. For example, in the first stanza, the line "And made dust and dropped stove-lengths in a” runs into the next line, "word," which creates a sense of movement and fluidity.

Themes and Symbols

Now let's move on to the themes and symbols in "The Telephone." One of the primary themes of the poem is the relationship between life and death. The sound of the bird outside the man's window reminds him of his own mortality and the fleeting nature of life. This theme is reinforced by the imagery in the poem, such as the "dust" and "stove-lengths" that the man mentions in the first stanza. These images suggest the passage of time and the gradual decay of all things.

Another theme in the poem is the power of communication. The telephone is a symbol of the man's connection to his lover, even though they are physically separated. The conversation they have over the phone is intimate and playful, and it serves as a reminder of their love for each other. However, the sound of the bird interrupts this conversation and reminds the man of the transience of life. This suggests that even the most powerful forms of communication are ultimately powerless in the face of death.

The bird itself is also a powerful symbol in the poem. It represents the natural world and the cycle of life and death. The bird's song is a reminder that life goes on, even after we are gone. However, the fact that the bird's song interrupts the man's conversation with his lover suggests that the natural world is indifferent to our human concerns and desires.

Finally, the imagery of the telephone wires is a symbol of the man's connection to the wider world. The wires stretch across great distances, connecting people who are far apart. This symbolizes the way that technology has revolutionized our ability to communicate and connect with each other. However, the fact that the man is interrupted by the sound of a bird suggests that even technology has its limits in the face of the natural world.


In conclusion, "The Telephone" by Robert Frost is a masterpiece of poetry that explores the themes of life, death, communication, and nature. Its form and structure are carefully crafted to create a natural, conversational tone, while its themes and symbols are rich and complex. As we read and re-read this poem, we are reminded of the fragility of life and the power of human connection. And isn't that what great poetry is all about?

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Telephone by Robert Frost: A Masterpiece of Poetic Expression

Robert Frost is a name that needs no introduction in the world of poetry. He is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, known for his simple yet profound style of writing. His poems are a reflection of the human experience, and his use of imagery and symbolism is unparalleled. One of his most famous poems, The Telephone, is a masterpiece of poetic expression that captures the essence of human communication and the complexities of modern life.

The Telephone was first published in 1915, and it has since become one of Frost's most popular poems. The poem is a conversation between two people on the telephone, and it explores the themes of isolation, communication, and the impact of technology on human relationships. The poem is written in free verse, which allows Frost to experiment with the structure and rhythm of the poem, creating a unique and powerful effect.

The poem begins with the speaker answering the telephone, and the first line sets the tone for the rest of the poem: "When I was just as far as I could walk / From here today, / There was an hour / All still / When leaning with my head against a flower / I heard you talk." The speaker is in a state of isolation, physically and emotionally distant from the person on the other end of the line. The use of the word "hour" suggests that time has stopped, and the speaker is suspended in a moment of stillness.

As the conversation progresses, the speaker and the person on the other end of the line struggle to connect. The speaker says, "But that was not I, / Not really, and nor yet / Did you say what you meant;" indicating that there is a disconnect between what is being said and what is meant. The use of the word "really" suggests that the speaker is searching for a deeper connection, a true understanding of the other person.

The poem then takes a turn, as the speaker begins to question the very nature of communication. The speaker says, "And would you, if you please, / Reveal yourself somewhere in all your length / That I might give you better thanks / For this, your gift?" The speaker is asking the other person to reveal themselves, to show their true self, in order to better understand the gift of communication. This is a powerful statement about the nature of human relationships, and the need for authenticity and honesty in communication.

The poem ends with the speaker reflecting on the impact of technology on human relationships. The speaker says, "The telephone / Is an old thing now. It seems to me / It stood still when you came, / And everything else is moving. / If you should call me up some night / And I answered and no one there, / I should know who was speaking." The use of the word "old" suggests that the telephone is no longer a new and exciting technology, but rather a mundane and ordinary part of life. The speaker is reflecting on the fact that technology has changed the way we communicate, and that it has both positive and negative effects on human relationships.

In conclusion, The Telephone is a masterpiece of poetic expression that captures the essence of human communication and the complexities of modern life. Frost's use of imagery and symbolism creates a powerful and emotional effect, and his exploration of themes such as isolation, communication, and the impact of technology on human relationships is both timely and timeless. The poem is a reminder that, despite the advances in technology, human relationships are still at the heart of our existence, and that true communication requires honesty, authenticity, and a willingness to reveal ourselves to others.

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