The Tuft of Flowers


Summary

“The Tuft of Flowers” is a beautiful poem written by an American poet Robert Frost. On the surface, it appears that this poem is about nature, however, after deeper study, I can see that this poem deals with the themes of isolation and friendship, a sense of being alone, yet a need to belong. These themes are especially relevant for teenagers of both past and present generations who struggle to fit in and I found a certain comfort in the poem for this reason. The poem reads somewhat like a story of a regular day’s work, which makes it a pleasant and enjoyable read, however, the deeper meaning reveals to me the wonder to be found in everyday life. The poem starts off with a lonely pessimistic tone and any deeper meaning to the poem is unclear. A sense of loneliness permeates Frost’s tone and as a reader, I develop a sense of sympathy for this lonely worker, “And I must be, as he had been, – alone”. The dramatic hyphen emphasises the sense of isolation the poet is experiencing. However, as we continue reading the tone becomes inquisitive and later uplifting and positive. Frost’s change in tone effectively captures what the reader experiences while reading this poem- initially unsure as to what message Frost is getting at, then later interested in the morals that are being suggested, and finally enlightened as we understand Frost’s message, at last, the message that tells us we are not alone.

Frost makes effective use of symbolism to capture layers of meaning in his poem ‘The Tuft of Flowers’. The “tremulous wing” of the “bewildered butterfly” symbolises the fragility of life, as both the wing of the butterfly and life are delicate and must be treated with care. Comparing life to the wing of a butterfly also puts into perspective for me the beauty of life and the diversity within the lives we lead. I find this beautiful image to be most appealing and it creates a sense of calm in the poem.

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Frost also discusses “a message from the dawn”, a tuft of flowers left uncut by the morning mower for Frost to enjoy. However, I feel that the poet is hinting at something deeper than a random act of kindness. I believe that Frost uses this simple gesture to symbolise how every person is fundamentally good, that is, there is good in everyone. I find such a positive outlook on humanity both inspirational and uplifting. Through the simple tuft of flowers, we see the idea of human fellowship and the idea that even in the darkest of times, someone is looking out for us, “Whether they work together or apart”. Frost seems to focus on our similarities rather than our differences as humans and reflects on the universal appreciation for things of beauty, “from sheer morning gladness at the brim”. This outlook is something I find to be quite inspirational and is something I will carry with me.

The poem consists of twenty rhyming couplets, which mimic the sound of the scythe the farmer is using. This adds a musical quality to the poem and makes it more enjoyable and memorable for me as a reader. Just as the scythe removes the grass to uncover the soil underneath, the melodic rhythm helps to uncover the depth to this poem. Frost reveals the comfort and strength to be found in working with others, “But glad with him, I worked as with his aid”, a message which I feel is incredibly important in todays divided and war-torn world. I believe there is a strongly spiritual element to this poem and that the poet is not merely discussing the relationship between farmers who work different shifts but is talking about humanity’s relationship with God.

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The final line, “Whether they work together or apart”, reveals to me that God is always with us in spirit, even if not in presence. I found this to be an incredibly powerful end to the poem and it lingered in my mind long after I’d finished reading it.


Analysis of The Tuft of Flowers


●The poem begins with the poet doing farm work. Turing grass that has already been turned by another farmer.

● The image of a keen blade caused by the dew is followed by the image of a leveled scene.

● There is repetition in the third couplet as the poet looks and listens for the farmer who has gone before him.

● The fourth couplet stresses the loneliness of farm work.

● The last word of the fourth couplet emphasises one of the main themes of this poem: A Sense of Being Alone.

● This sense of being alone, despite others being present, is a key concept in this poem.
● The poet is thoughtful and slightly depressed by what he observes before the appearance of the butterfly.

● The appearance of the butterfly interrupts the farmer from contemplating his loneliness.

● The butterfly who is seeking “yesterdays delight” becomes a symbol of memory and change.

● The poem explores “questions that have no reply”. Frost uses the farming scene to explore questions of loneliness and fellowship.

● The butterfly draws the poets attention to a tuft of flowers.

● The Tuft of Flowers becomes a symbol of what unites the poet and the unseen mower. Both have a love of beauty and nature.

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● The poem emphasizes the spiritual Connection between the poet and the mower.

● Although the poet is still physically alone, the kindred spirit of the mower, revealed through the tuft of flowers left uncut means the poet is not really alone.

● The poet and the mower are both glad in their own ways and are united in the fellowship of nature.

● The poem leads to a concluding message which is given in the final piece.

● The message is that men are always working together, even when they are not physically together.

Tone of The Tuft of Flowers

Until he makes this connection, he feels lost and unhappy and cannot settle down to the task ahead. The work of a poet is largely alone but depends to a certain extent on the work of other poets who have gone before and who have led by example. Later the poet feels connected to the other farmer and feels less alone towards the end of the poem.

Theme

“The Tuft of Flowers” explores our need to belong and to have a sense of community. The poet works alone but it is important for him to feel a connection with the other farmer who started the day’s work. Until he makes this connection, he feels lost and unhappy and cannot settle down to the task ahead. The work of a poet is largely alone but depends to a certain extent on the work of other poets who have gone before and who have led by example.

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