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Robert Frost’s poem The Gift Outright renders its readers with many interpretive options as to what analogies he is hiding behind his words. I think in Frost’s The Gift Outright, he is trying to emphasize that triumph, surrender, and sacrifice are what led to the outright gift that is America. For years, what is now America was a colony under the reign of the British; American’s identities were not solely in themselves but partially based in the British traditions that had been heavily emphasized- because of this many struggled to become one with the land.
Colonials slowly fought for independence in each of the states; Frost uses this to exemplify when the Americans began to triumph over England’s rule and make the land thine own: “…She was ours/ In Massachusetts, in Virginia, / But we were England’s” (3-5). The author uses these lines to show that they do have small victories towards the progression of their own nation/land. But they are still England’s and are failing to be apart of the change that will shape and solidify their nation state; they posses the land, but the land does not posses them- they took over the land without taking over the responsibilities she came with. Triumph can only come if there is once a trial, and at times humanity surrenders to the trials they face. The gift of land came at a personal expense, a sacrifice; because they would not receive without first giving: “Such as we were we gave ourselves outright”…” Such as she was, such as she will become.” (12,16). In these lines Frost is demonstrating that the imperfect citizens gave themselves to the imperfect land to build something much greater; the dedication of the people will help America to achieve its full potential by enhancing her with art and stories. Surrendering parts of themselves to the development of America is not the only sacrifice Frost exemplifies in his poem. The decolonization of America and the personalization of her land was the cause for the passing of many lives.
The sacrifice and demise of many souls was subtly mentioned by Frost: “(The deed of the gift was many deeds of war)” (13). I think Frost is trying to prove that although the gift was outright, it was merely the opposite. The land was not entirely the peoples; it was fought for- a lot of conflict and oppression was ensued to create a free nation. Frost adopts the use of brackets; this allows for war to be mentioned indirectly but insists that the wages of war that resulted in victory, not be forgotten. Frost’s poem captivates the readers, making them feel the responsibilities and duties of the land that the Americans once felt as their own. Such allowed construal as the poem progressed and the meaning behind The Outright Gift became increasingly complex, and intimate. Frost depicted the American’s identity in an uncontemporary way through the triumph, surrender, and sacrifice that had been endured.
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