This is an explication that I did for my AP World Literature Class. I had trouble finding any real explication of this poem online, so I decided to put this up. Feel free to use this explication for a research source,or if you want to you could just copy and paste the whole thing and use that(it comes out to a little over six pages using 12, Times New Roman). Hope this helps, please leave comments if you think I left something important out or if you have any questions that I left unanswered.
“One impulse persists as our breath;” Line 19
This line is talking about how we have an impulse in us to breathe. We do not need to think about it to do it, so this is somewhat strange to talk about it as an impulse as impulse is normally thought to be something that you consciously feel like you have to do. So Frost is taking the definition for impulse and he is switching it to mean something that we feel we need to do and not something that we just do without thinking about it. By tweaking the meaning of this word a little, Frost opens up a new set of uses for the word that he will take advantage of in the next and final line of the poem.
“The other persists as our faith.” Line 20
This line is directly related to the line before and expects the reader to have read the line before so that they could fill in the word “impulse” into the sentence. If you take the definition that Frost has put before us in the line preceding for the word “impulse” then you start to see what Frost is saying in this line. If impulse is seen as something that we just something that we just do without giving any thought to it, then you can see that Frost is saying that faith is something that we just do. It is part of us, just like breathing, that we have a faith in something of a deity and that itself leaves the question as to why we have this innate idea in our heads of a creator. Frost may be alluding to this passage,
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
This is talking about how everyone is accountable for their denial of God because he has revealed himself in everything around us. So the idea of a creator has become an innate part of us. This is Frost going back to how mysterious the whole universe is and how if God is real he has left us little clues to say that he is real but he hasn’t just come out and said that he is real.
I took out the ending of my paper because it was responding to a specific question that was to be answered. I hope this paper has helped you.
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