Robert Frost is often considered one of the great American poets. Born in San Francisco but spent most of his life on the east coast. His work earned him four Pulitzer Prizes. “Out, Out,” written in 1916, is about a boy who suffers an accident cutting wood and dies from it. A literary analysis of the work should focus on the poetic elements, themes and figurative devices.



Read the poem carefully, preferably twice. Stresses the notable sections.

Consider the “voice” behind the poem. Who is this? “Out, Out” is written in the third person by an omnipresent narrator (which means it can penetrate into the inner thoughts of the characters). However, the narrator seems to be involved in the action. Discuss how the voice works within the poem.

Analyzes the use of personification (giving human qualities to inanimate objects. Pulse boy is described as “shies away” and saw “jumped”. Such descriptions make the poem more vivid.

Discuss the theme of the poem. The poetic themes are usually open to personal interpretation, but consider how Frost builds the story behind the poem. Discuss the misfortune of somebody losing their life to work and what characterizes it as a “big boy doing a man’s job.” He also comments on the apparent indifference of others to return to work after the child’s death. This could indicate possible topics.

Scan is rhyme scheme and meter, or lack thereof. Discuss why you think the author chose not to incorporate rhyme or meter in “Out, Out”. How does the exclusion of these poetic devices emotional color or dramatic impact of the poem?

Write your thoughts about the author’s attitude toward the subject. What is the emotional tone? Forst? Shown compassionate, critical or indifferent? Do you maintain aesthetic distance or approaching the subject emotionally?