Birches by Robert Frost (7 Questions)



by Robert Frost

WHEN I see birches bend to left and right

Across the line of straighter darker trees,

I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.

But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay.

Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them

Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning

After a rain. They click upon themselves

As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored

As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.

Soon the sun’s warmth makes them shed crystal shells

Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—

Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away

You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.

They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,

And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed

So low for long, they never right themselves:

You may see their trunks arching in the woods

Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground

Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair

Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

But I was going to say when Truth broke in

With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm

(Now am I free to be poetical?)

I should prefer to have some boy bend them

As he went out and in to fetch the cows—

Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,

Whose only play was what he found himself,

Summer or winter, and could play alone.

One by one he subdued his father’s trees

By riding them down over and over again

Until he took the stiffness out of them,

And not one but hung limp, not one was left

For him to conquer. He learned all there was

To learn about not launching out too soon

And so not carrying the tree away

Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise

To the top branches, climbing carefully

With the same pains you use to fill a cup

Up to the brim, and even above the brim.

Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,

Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.

So was I once myself a swinger of birches;

And so I dream of going back to be.

It’s when I’m weary of considerations,

And life is too much like a pathless wood

Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs

Broken across it, and one eye is weeping

From a twig’s having lashed across it open.

I’d like to get away from earth awhile

And then come back to it and begin over.

May no fate wilfully misunderstand me

And half grant what I wish and snatch me away

Not to return. Earth’s the right place for love:

I don’t know where it’s likely to go better.

I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree,

And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk

Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,

But dipped its top and set me down again.

That would be good both going and coming back.

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

The syntax of line 5–“Ice storms do that”– provides which of the following effects:

Furthers the imagery of lines 1-4.
Establishes the contrast between natural extremes.
Jolts the reader into a deeper apprecation of birches.
Enhances the geometrical aspects of natural imagery.
Interrupts the flow and harmony of the birch trees.
    Score: 1 of 1
The stylistic device present in the first line of the poem is:
    Score: 0 of 1
They” in line 7? ;They click upon themselves.
“them”–line 6
“them”–line 5
“birches”–line 1
“some boy’s”–line 3
    Score: 1 of 1
The poet’s use of the second person pronoun “you” serves what primary rhetorical purpose?
To personalize an otherwise abstract idea.
To familiarize the reader with something dear to the poet’s heart.
To establish a contrast between truth and fiction.
To establish a contrast between the speaker and the rest of the world.
To illustrate the power of the imagination.
    Score: 0 of 1
The speaker’s attitude towards the boy in this poem is:
matter of fact
    Score: 0 of 1
What is the primary purpose of the use of the personal pronoun in three consecutive lines, beginning with “So was I once myself a swinger of birches”?
To emphasize the poet’s longing for a more heavenly place.
To establish the contrast between mortal and immortal spheres.
To explain the deep interest in the condition of the trees.
To provide an allegory by which to understand the human condition.
To establish the contrast between youth and age.
    Score: 0 of 1
What is the primary effect of repeating the phrase “a swinger of birches” in the middle and end of the poem?
To mock the outsider’s misinterpretation of birch trees
To lament the loss of innocence and youth
To intensify the metaphoric value of birch trees.
To concede the limits of nature as a metaphor for life.
To add an element of irony to an otherwise serious subject.