The Pasture by Robert Frost: Summary, Theme & Analysis

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  • 0:00 Summary of 'The Pasture'
  • 0:44 Analysis of 'The Pasture'
  • 2:15 Theme of Rebirth
  • 3:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

In this lesson, we will explore the poem 'The Pasture' by Robert Frost. We'll analyze this poem and look into the theme of rebirth that is described through the chores that need to be done in the pasture.

Summary of ''The Pasture''

In Robert Frost's poem ''The Pasture'', the poet tells of a farmer who has a little bit of work that needs to be done. He's soothingly telling someone else that he won't be gone for long. The end of each stanza has the line ''I sha'n't be gone long. -You come too'', providing a refrain, or regularly recurring verse.

Robert Frost is the author of The Pasture
Robert Frost

This poem is only eight lines long, and two of those lines are the same, but it's full of imagery. We can visualize the pasture, and we can picture this farmer going out to do some spring cleaning, stopping to rake the leaves away. In the second stanza, we can imagine the calf slightly losing its balance as its mother licks it with her tongue.

Analysis of ''The Pasture''

Let's look at ''The Pasture'' in detail in three sections: the first stanza, the second stanza, and the refrain. Here's the first stanza:

''I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may)''

In this stanza, we see a farmer going out into the field to do some spring cleaning. He's going to rake leaves and make sure the water is running properly. It's simply a list of chores that he needs to get done. This poem has a very inviting tone. It's as though the farmer is speaking to a friend, telling the friend about his plans for the day.

The second stanza reads:

''I'm going out to fetch the little calf
That's standing by the mother. It's so young,
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.''

Here the farmer is explaining that he also needs to check on the young calf. He notes that this calf is so young that it can barely stay upright and must stay near its mother. The imagery here is one of new life, described in simple detail.

Finally, let's examine the refrain:

''I sha'n't be gone long. -You come too.''

The farmer explains that this list of chores shouldn't take him long, but he invites his friend to come along. This is where we really see a loving relationship. Although these chores won't take the farmer long, he wants the person he's speaking with to join him. He wants to spend every moment possible with this friend.

Theme of Rebirth

One of the most apparent themes of this poem is rebirth. The setting of the poem is the perfect backdrop for this theme. Spring is frequently associated with rebirth, and since the setting is a pasture in spring, we feel as though the pasture is in the process of being born anew.

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