We have but one short reading this final Module, and that is Robert Frost’s short poem “Out, Out!” Like many Frost poems, this one is quite popular and commonly anthologized in many texts used on college campuses. As we will see, the allusion used in the title greatly enriches the poem, and after we have read the poem, perhaps several times, we will discuss the poem as the topic of our final discussion in the class. Be certain to post your responses to the prompts as well as comments to other student thoughts and expressions.
After you have read Robert Frost’s poem “Out, Out!” (in the text or online), please answer the following questions, and, as always, please respond to at least TWO other student posts with strong substantive discussions.
Frost took his title from Act V, Scene V of Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. What do you think prompted Frost to select those words from Shakespeare? What is going on at that point in the play? People from William Faulkner to Elton John have used images or words from this same passage, so perhaps we might infer that there is something there. What do you think?
What is the poem about?
Why does the boy die? Be careful. He does not bleed to death, and he dies way too soon for infection to have been a factor. What do you think? Does the boy himself give us a hint in some of his last words?
Some readers are disturbed by the final lines: “And they, since they / Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.” How do you take the ending of the poem?
Does the ending bother you or not? If so, in what way?
What does the quotation from Shakespeare bring to the poem?
If the poem had a different title, perhaps “The Death of the Wood Cutter” relating to another Frost title “The Death of the Hired Man,” would the poem change?
Does the allusion affect the poem’s plot? theme? tone?