Eng 102 1145
11 March 2013
First paper- Second Draft
Critical Reading and Personal Writing The two poems I will evaluate and compare are, “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening,” by Robert Frost, and “Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day?” by William Shakespeare. These poems are very different from one another. Shakespeare’s poem is full of metaphors and emotion; Frost’s poem has no metaphors but uses imagery to describe his surroundings. The titles of these two poems set the stage for two very different personalities. Robert Frost’s title, “Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day?” is bright with a romantic metaphor, while Shakespeare’s title, “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening,” congers a heavy, darker reality- an obligation to complete a journey. The question in Shakespeare’s title is the author’s invitation to engage with someone, and begs an answer which most of the poem presents, whereas “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening,” connotes action, physical movement. Instead of addressing someone else, the poem reflects the author’s reaction to the world around him. The title suggests that he is alone and evokes a deeper, somber feeling. The “summer” author may be alone but clearly is attempting to draw in, or win over, a beautiful woman, perhaps. These titles suggest very different attitudes. The structure of each poem is very different. Shakespeare’s sonnet lays out an argument. By posing a question, the author suggests that the comparison of his love/woman to a summer’s day is inadequate. He then explains the shortcomings of summer and then pivots to the person he is pursuing using the same metaphors to illustrate that the object of his desire is superior to any summer day. The message and mood of this poem is romance, love, and adoration. Then he ends the sonnet, with If/Then logic, underscoring his point that his object of desire is indeed all things he says she is. On the other hand, Frost is reflective, describing a practical mundane event, making a journey with his horse. The first and last verses focus on the journey and the rider’s bearings in relation to his destination. The second and third verses focus on his horse, his companion. The structures of the poems are also physically different. Shakespeare’s poem is a sonnet, which consists of fourteen lines, twelve of which are divided into three quatrains (stanzas composed of four lines) and the last two lines are together in a couplet. The sonnet has a specific rhyme scheme or meter called iambic pentameter. Each line consists of ten syllables and the syllables are divided into five pairs called iambs. An iamb is made up of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable. When read aloud, it is meant to give emphasis to the stressed words. Frost’s poem uses a different rhyme scheme called the Rubaiyat Stanza, which means a stanza composed of four lines that have a rhyme scheme of AABA. The first two lines and the last line in the stanza rhyme, whereas the third line starts a new rhyme for the next stanza. Finally, unlike the lines in Shakespeare’s sonnet, Frost’s lines have eight syllables.
The sonnet’s narrator is very persuasive as he is looking to convey his ardor for someone else. Therefore, his voice is rich with imagery and metaphor and exaggerated comparisons to express his passion. The last two lines emphasize the certainty of his sentiments by making such an obvious statement that if men can breathe and see (which of course they can) then his love is beyond question. The last line “…and gives life to thee” suggests that this sonnet, or the sentiment it conveys, gives his love its own life, or his love validates the person he loves.
The winter traveler in Frost’s poem is more somber, more practical. His scene is dark, heavy with snow, little to know expression of emotion. Instead of celebrating/communicating