“Out, Out” by Robert Frost

An article on the Robert Frost poem “Out, Out” which would help any A Level English student.

Robert Frost employs a number of different methods to express his thoughts regarding life and nature. The first being an allusion that he uses, the hyphen is inserted to include your own word. As the title is from Shakespeare’s Macbeth with the line being “Out out brief candle”, the “brief candle” symbolises life. Frost has applied the allusion to illustrate the boy exiting the real world.

Onomatopoeia has too been used within the poem. “The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard” allowing the reader to visualise the saw being used. The words “snarled and rattled” are brought into play once more to characterise the saw as a dangerous weapon. Personification is also employed in lines 14 and 15. “At the word, the saw, / as if to prove saws knew what supper meant.” This makes the saw appear knowledgeable and that it knew what “supper” was.

Sibilance has been applied in line 3. “Sweet scented stuff when the breeze drew across it” generating olfactory imagery in the scattering of the scent in the breeze, this creates a harmonious effect.

Frost has used a figure of speech in the appearance of a metonymy. “As if to keep the life from spilling.” The literal meaning is to keep the blood from spilling, the line tells us that the hand is bleeding and the boy’s life is in danger.

Frost introduces a hyperbole to line 16. “Leaped out of the boys hand or seemed to leap.” Obviously the saw has no limbs so does not have the capability to leap, but by overstating the point we can imagine the horror of the saw cutting into the boy’s limb.

The poem also has a religious tone, line 14: “Supper” is a reference to the last supper which would also be the last supper that the family would eat before tragedy struck.

There is a conversational tone to the poem, “Call it a day, I wish they might have said.” A ten monosyllabic line that is the first inclination that the poem is written in the first person as a narrative verse with a setting, a plot and conflict. In the same line Frost uses foreshadowing. Here, he is suggesting that something dark and sinister was coming.

The poem almost satirizes society’s indifference at a child’s death. The start of the poem is idealistic with the imagery of the scenery, the sunset and the “five mountain ranges”. The nature in the poem appears perfect until the saw appears like a snake waiting to attack.

A caesura is used in line 32. “Little-less-nothing! and that ended it.” The audible pause offers finality to the boys passing and after the tragedy the boy’s relations continue with their lives as normal, as if nothing had happened. The poem is a narrative as if Frost witnessed it happening, written in blank verse as a continuous structure.

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  1. Posted September 16, 2009 at 2:58 pm

    this isnt v helpful

  2. Posted October 21, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I beg to differ, I found it very helpful.

  3. lija
    Posted February 9, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    this was very helpful compared to wat my teacher could have given me, i liked ur detail to things and the use of poetic techniques

  4. taylor
    Posted February 22, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    where exactly is the poem!!!!?

  5. Posted March 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm


  6. Posted March 3, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    meh meh meh meh

  7. Alice
    Posted March 14, 2010 at 11:50 am

    I think this was very helpful, Thank-you x

  8. pkeys
    Posted April 22, 2010 at 9:08 am

    omg i agree my teacher can not even explain as clear as you do . bless you and thank you!!!!

  9. Anna
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    I thought it was helpful thankyou, but i also think that it could of been a bit shorter. . . but thanks anyway!! (:

  10. Posted May 16, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    I’m glad it helped some of you. Those who say they wanted it shorted, think about the exam. The examiner will be looking for the above. He will be looking for a lengthy piece. ‘Your a Joke’ if you don’t give a damn about it, why are you reading it my friend? ;-)

  11. Bianca
    Posted October 12, 2010 at 11:38 am

    RAWR :)

  12. HBoo
    Posted November 22, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    I found this to be extremely helpful. I had to answer questions on this poem in essay form, listing the literary devices used in the poem. Without this help, I would not have even understood the meaning of the literary devices. For those that wanted a summary of the poem, that can be easily found elsewhere. But for most college or even high school level English classes, a mere summary would not be sufficient. And disrespecting someone taking the time to write all of this is just asinine. Just my humble opinion…

  13. lolole
    Posted February 24, 2011 at 4:38 am

    thhis was very helpful in helping me breakdown and annotate the poem thankyou. nice length. for my particular assignment i need more techniques though. but obviously this informtion depends on the type of assignment people are doing.
    anyone being rude grow up. this is helpful. figuire it out on your own if you dont appreciate it!

  14. i dont care
    Posted January 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    i need the poem jack ass.

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