American poet Robert Frost was highly regarded for his depictions of real life situations especially in rural areas and his command of the colloquial speech. This he used to explore complex philosophical and social themes. He is widely recognized in the strand of modernist poets. Modernism developed in the form of lyrical expression which emphasized personal imagination and encouraged the hypothetical depiction of culture and emotions as well as memories to the heights poetry could elevate them to. Modernists valued the movement away from mere depiction of situations to the incorporation of intellectual imagination. They saw themselves as looking back to the poetry before them and modifying it to create a new dimension from it. They intended to create poetry a new as one of their targets was to borrow only the best practices from the poetry of the earlier period and cultures and create something new out of it. They wanted to bring poetry to the layman and eradicate what they termed as the pompous and gauche nature of the romanticist poetry.
One major feature of modernistic poetry is imagism. This advanced the direct treatment of the issue or thing regardless of subjective or objective perspectives. Also key to this theory was the idea that no word which did not add value to the presentation or did not contribute in any way was to be absolutely omitted. Another key feature within imagism was rhythm composed in the sequence of musical phrase and a complete freedom in the decision of the subject matter. In this case, they developed the free verse as they also encouraged new rhythms. Exactness in word and the common speech was also encouraged. Analyses of most modernist work reveal this desire to of the poets to take traditional forms and ideas and make them new. American modernists led by Ezra Pound adopted this new theory in poetic productions.
Robert Frost belong to this group of poets. He is a modernist. But as Baym suggests, at the heart of the high modernist aesthetic lay the conviction that the previously sustaining structure of human life, whether social, political, religious or artistic had been destroyed and showed up as falsehoods or at best arbitrary and fragile human constructions (Baym, et. Al, 2008). To demonstrate this assertion, it is important to look at Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay”. In this poem, the poet talks about that treasured good in the life of an being which he says cannot last forever. When looked at in light of Baym’s assertion, we see some arbitrariness. Frost seem to conform to no conventions. His poem is just a single verse if it can be called so. The likes of Frost and other modernists were writing at a time when philosophical aestheticism was also being practiced and they incorporated it in their works. It is experimental in nature as they sought to compose in newer ways and that is why would see these constructions as fragile. The conventions that guided this writing was fluid as the poets experimented on many fronts.
Imagism is too evident. Gold, flower, leaf, Eden and day all create some mental pictures in us. For some reason, I do not think modernist writing can be dismissed as fragile human construction as Baym suggest. Rather, it could be the challenging nature of the poetry and the fluid conventions upon which its rubrics are based that make it more confusing. It borrows from all the other strands and therefore becomes a bit complicated to be appreciated.