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Published: 13-09-2019

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‘The Silken Tent’: Praising Women in Traditional Poetry Format

All through “The Silken Tent,” Robert Frost employs an extended metaphor in comparing a lady to a delicate tent surrounded by nature. This device explores the thought of freedom possessed by a woman in 1940s America, but also confronts the restrictions and responsibilities of family members and society.

Frost explores the importance of setting, focusing on scenes of nature to evoke connotations of an ethereal and light atmosphere surrounding the tent: ‘She is as in a field a silken tent At midday when a sunny summer season breeze…’[1] The ‘silken tent’ suggests softness and sensuality, which are juxtaposed against the very mundane surroundings: ‘a field’, presenting a mixture of practicality and openness. The time of day is also significant: ‘Midday’, a time when the sun would be highest in the sky. Naturally, this time-frame bestows a warm and comforting feeling on not only the character but the reader also. In addition, the alliteration of ‘sunny summer’ accentuates a song-like rhythm that contributes to the light atmosphere, a mood continued in ‘sureness of the soul’. The theme of location brings forward a further message as to the position of girls in society: ‘And its supporting central cedar pole, That is its pinnacle to heavenward’[2] The suggestion of a ‘pinnacle to heavenward’ presents the concept that a woman has an ethereal, almost angel-like status the entirety of Frost’s description focuses on positive elements of females, possibly displaying the idealistic image society has. Also, such descriptions can additional suggest that although a woman could not necessarily be reaching to God, females are expected to seek guidance from an authoritative figure, probably a father or husband. Frost’s use of all-natural imagery continues: ‘central cedar pole’ to recommend that this woman is robust-willed or in a far more literal sense could assistance the branches of society as a tree trunk would support its boughs.

A sense of freedom informs the whole poem, as reflected in the structure and type: ‘But strictly held by none, is loosely bound By countless silken ties of really like and believed.’[1] The lack of restraint: ‘strictly held by none’ suggests that this entity can not be fully controlled in marriage or life rather, such an entity remains a free spirit and in turn chooses to give ‘love and thought’ to other individuals. The adverb ‘loosely’ proposes that even though ties restrain her, they are a gentle reminder and have no restrictive element. This freedom is reflected in the enjambment and the lack of full stops, giving unending, totally free movement to the poem. Literary scholar Mordecai Marcus has argued that ‘The tautening represents tensions in relationships, and the slightness of the bondage shows that the woman’s tender dutifulness responds not to compulsion but to loving necessity.’[2] This is observed by way of the ending, when the slight lack of freedom becomes apparent: ‘bondage’ evokes pictures of imprisonment and slavery, even though the extremity is lessened by way of the adjective ‘slight’. In addition, the repetition of ‘silken ties’ gives the sonnet a circular structure, reflecting that a woman’s duties are never over. Even so, the function of a woman is nonetheless portrayed positively by means of the metaphysical aspect ‘ties of adore and thought’, suggesting the qualities a lady can bestow on other folks and her connections to household, a husband, or even ‘To every little thing on earth’. Furthermore, the sense of freedom is amplified by the basic sequence of rhyming couplets that make up the rhyme scheme just as the silken ties are wrapped around the lady, “The Silken Tent” is tied collectively with this gentle rhyme. Freedom is similarly a central theme in Frost’s poem Birches: ‘I’d like to get away from earth for a even though.. And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk Toward heaven’[three] The reaching for maybe spiritual satisfaction or to a figure of authority is echoed in “The Silken Tent,” as is the urge to achieve correct freedom although simultaneously becoming connected to reality on earth.

As Frost critic Robert Faggen comments: ‘“The Silken Tent” and “All Revelation” are impersonal pronouncements that propose universal or mythic, revelatory disclosures.’[1] This can be noticed through the ambiguity Frost presents us with over the precise identification of the woman. He outlines her duties to the planet rather than her physical aspects perhaps this is purposeful, to recommend a universal idea rather than a particular person. Although the subject of the poem is inanimate, the nature of the tent conveys info about the woman: ‘…all its ropes relent, So that in guys it gently sways at ease’[two] Her identity is generalized to just ‘She’ this label leaves area for interpretation as to who this lady could be and is consequently apparently relevant to several individuals, assisting to establish an emotional connection in between the reader and the poet. The pun on ‘guys’ presents the ‘guise’ this woman is below through the tent metaphor, as properly as linking the physical aspects of a tent to the masculine influence on a woman’s life. However, even though extremely gentle misogyny is present, the sense that this woman may possibly have duties but will never be fully controlled is reflected by means of the vocabulary: ‘relents’ and ‘gently sways at ease’. The subject’s much more promiscuous side is shown through pathetic fallacy: ‘In the capriciousness of summer time air Is of the slightest bondage created conscious.’[three] By means of the noun ‘capriciousness’, Frost suggests sudden impulsiveness and a sense of wildness, of freedom. It is only when this wildness demands to be curbed that restraints are ‘made aware’, a reminder that a traditional woman’s soul need to nonetheless be kept restricted if she is to fulfill her duties.

With “The Silken Tent,” Frost presents his appreciation for females by means of the conventional sonnet form. He focuses, just as William Carlos Williams often does, very closely on a single image to present the human and the metaphysical relationships a lady has not only with these about her but also with the entire world.
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