Robert Frost - a Leaf Treader

Robert Frost
A Leaf Treader

The poem focuses on struggle. It is about how one person is going through problems from everyday life and is finding it hard to overcome them; the narrator of the poem shows determination as he combats the problems he comes across, ‘But it was no reason I had to go because they had to go.’ Phrases like ‘all day’ and ‘autumn tired’ imply the difficult tasks that the individual is going through, however the narrator ends up being ‘safely’ secure in the knowledge that he has done his duty, although the job is not yet complete as he must ‘keep on top of another year of snow.’

Relevant Contextual details
Frost wasn’t just a poet but also a farmer. Frost was writing poetry for a number of years without recognition or appreciation. This caused him to suffer from a lack of self confidence which is reflected in the poem; ‘All summer long they were overhead, More lifted up than I.’ Frost sent his poems to The Atlantic Monthly but they were returned with a note saying, ‘We regret that The Atlantic has no place for your vigorous verse.’

Most important/relevant/interesting literary features
In A Leaf Treader there are 3 lexical sets:
‘leaves,’ ‘leaf,’ ‘earth’
‘autumn,’ ‘summer,’ ‘snow,’ ‘year’
‘lips,’ ‘knee,’ ‘heart’
There is repetition in the line ‘All summer long’ as it is repeated twice in the poem inferring that work is both mentally challenging and physically tiring.

Themes and Symbols
The poem relates to both work and death ‘seemed with a will to carry me with to death.’ Frost had to make his way up through the leaves – leaves symbolising his contemporaries – other poets. This is struggle that he has endured for a number of years. Frost seems to be talking about not only keeping on top of the leaves but also keeping on top of life. Frost has to hold out against the ‘invitation’ of the personified leaves to die with them; ‘But it was no reason I had to go because they had to go.’ The word...