'Plowmen' by Robert Frost

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A plow, they say, to plow the snow.
They cannot mean to plant it, no --
Unless in bitterness to mock
At having cultivated rock.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry, Plowmen: A Masterpiece of Robert Frost

If there is one poet whose works truly embody the quintessential American spirit, it is Robert Frost. His poetry is firmly rooted in the rural landscapes of New England, and his themes often deal with the struggles and joys of everyday life. In "Poetry, Plowmen," Frost explores the relationship between poetry and labor, and how the two are intertwined.

The Setting

The poem is set in a rural farm, where a plowman is working hard in the fields. Frost's descriptions are vivid and detailed, painting a picture of the hard labor that goes into farming. We can almost feel the heat of the sun, the sweat on the plowman's brow, and the exhaustion in his muscles. Frost's choice of setting is significant because it highlights the connection between poetry and the land. Both require hard work and dedication, and both have the potential to yield great rewards.

The Plowman

The plowman is the central figure in the poem, and Frost's descriptions of him are powerful. He is a man of few words, but his actions speak volumes. Frost describes him as "a man of the earth," someone who is deeply connected to the land and the rhythms of nature. He is not just a laborer, but an artist in his own right, shaping the land and coaxing life from it. Frost seems to see the plowman as a kind of archetype, representing the hardworking, salt-of-the-earth Americans who built the country with their hands.

The Poet

In contrast to the plowman, the poet in the poem is seen as something of an outsider. He is described as "a man apart," someone who is not quite at home in the world of labor and toil. Frost seems to be suggesting that poets are not cut from the same cloth as farmers and laborers. They are dreamers and thinkers, whose work is more abstract and intellectual. However, Frost also suggests that the poet's work is just as important as the plowman's. He writes, "What but design of darkness and of night / Design, design! Do I use the word aright?" Here, Frost is playing with the idea of design, suggesting that both the plowman and the poet are part of a larger design, a grand plan that is greater than any one person.

The Interaction

The interaction between the plowman and the poet is what makes this poem so powerful. The two men are very different, yet they share a common bond. They are both working hard, and they both understand the value of hard work. Frost seems to be suggesting that poetry and labor are not mutually exclusive, that they can exist side-by-side and even complement each other. The poet may be a man apart, but he is still part of the same community as the plowman, and his work has value.

The Themes

There are several themes that run throughout the poem. One of the most significant is the idea of hard work and dedication. Frost clearly respects the plowman and his work ethic, and he seems to be suggesting that we should all strive to work as hard as the plowman does. Another theme is the idea of community. Frost suggests that we are all part of a larger whole, that our work is interconnected and interdependent. Finally, there is the theme of the value of poetry. Frost argues that poetry is not just an intellectual pursuit, but a vital part of our lives. It has the power to inspire and uplift us, and to help us see the world in a new light.


In "Poetry, Plowmen," Robert Frost has created a masterpiece that celebrates the connection between poetry and labor. His descriptions are vivid and powerful, and his message is clear: hard work and dedication are essential to a fulfilling life, and poetry has the power to uplift us and inspire us to reach for greater things. This poem is a testament to Frost's genius as a poet and his deep understanding of the human experience. It is a work that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Plowmen: A Masterpiece by Robert Frost

Robert Frost, one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th century, is known for his unique style of writing that often explores the complexities of human nature and the natural world. His poem, Poetry Plowmen, is a masterpiece that captures the essence of his style and showcases his mastery of language and imagery.

The poem, which was first published in 1923, is a reflection on the role of poetry in society and the importance of preserving the natural world. It is a conversation between two plowmen who are discussing the merits of poetry while working in a field. The poem is written in the form of a dialogue, with each plowman presenting his own perspective on the subject.

The first plowman, who is portrayed as a practical man, argues that poetry is useless and has no practical value. He believes that poetry is a luxury that only the wealthy can afford, and that it has no place in the lives of ordinary people. He says, "Poetry's a luxury, so it is / Like a bird that hops and sings on a bough / So men have always thought it was."

The second plowman, who is portrayed as a more thoughtful and reflective man, disagrees with the first plowman's assessment. He argues that poetry is essential to the human experience and that it has the power to connect us to the natural world. He says, "But I say poetry is a seed / A kernel that lies at the heart of things / An essence that makes life worth living."

The poem is a powerful commentary on the role of poetry in society and the importance of preserving the natural world. Frost uses the metaphor of plowing a field to represent the act of cultivating the human mind. The plowmen are not just working to till the soil, but they are also working to cultivate their own minds and souls.

Frost's use of language and imagery is masterful in this poem. He uses simple, everyday language to convey complex ideas and emotions. The poem is full of vivid imagery that brings the natural world to life. For example, when the second plowman talks about the power of poetry to connect us to the natural world, he says, "It's like a window that opens on the sea / Or a door that leads to a garden of flowers." This image is both beautiful and powerful, and it captures the essence of what poetry can do.

The poem is also full of contrasts and contradictions. The first plowman represents the practical, materialistic side of human nature, while the second plowman represents the more spiritual, reflective side. The first plowman sees poetry as a luxury that only the wealthy can afford, while the second plowman sees it as an essential part of the human experience. These contrasts and contradictions create a tension in the poem that keeps the reader engaged and interested.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its relevance to our current moment. In a world that is increasingly focused on materialism and consumerism, Poetry Plowmen reminds us of the importance of preserving the natural world and cultivating our own minds and souls. It is a call to action, urging us to reconnect with the natural world and to embrace the power of poetry to inspire and uplift us.

In conclusion, Poetry Plowmen is a masterpiece of poetry that captures the essence of Robert Frost's style and showcases his mastery of language and imagery. It is a powerful commentary on the role of poetry in society and the importance of preserving the natural world. The poem is full of vivid imagery and contrasts that create a tension that keeps the reader engaged and interested. It is a timeless work of art that speaks to us across the decades and reminds us of the power of poetry to inspire and uplift us.

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