Analysis Pages

Imagery in Birches

Imagery Examples in Birches:

Text of the Poem

5

"I'd like to get away from earth awhile  And then come back to it..."   (Text of the Poem)

In an important turn in the poem, the speaker expresses a clear desire for a taste of the transcendence he experienced in childhood. The image of the bent birches draws up from the wells of memory the speaker’s childhood experiences of birch swinging, with all of the attendant joy and lightness of those times. Readers may recognize this poetic move—recollecting childhood with a reverential awe and envy—from the poems of William Wordsworth, particularly his “Ode: Intimations of Immortality.”

"one eye is weeping..."   (Text of the Poem)

The image of the speaker’s weeping eye is telling. Though he offers us its cause—“a twig’s having lashed across it open”—there may be another, deeper cause at play, namely the sorrows and sufferings of earthly life. The speaker, after all, cuts his eye and weeps during a woodland walk which is in itself a metaphor for “life.”

"Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells  Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust—..."   (Text of the Poem)

In these lines, Frost creates a cascade of consonants, layering s and sh sounds to convey the imagery—both visual and auditory—of broken ice pouring down from the birch branches onto the firm snow below.

"As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel. ..."   (Text of the Poem)

Once again Frost employs auditory imagery that combines the sound of language with its meaning. As the breeze bends the birches, the branches bend until the layer of ice encrusting them “cracks and crazes.” These two words imitate the cracking sound of the ice splitting open.

"They click upon themselves  As the breeze rises,..."   (Text of the Poem)

Frost weaves a great deal of imagery into “Birches.” These particular lines display Frost’s touch with auditory imagery. Frost evokes the sounds of birches as “they click upon themselves” during a passing breeze. The evocation of this sound is bolstered by the use of “click,” whose twin hard c sounds onomatopoetically mimic the clicking of the colliding birches.

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