Home Burial Analysis by Robert Frost

Home Burial is a dramatic narrative. This poem of Robert Frost was first published in ‘North of Boston’. Frost had a general dislike for free verse. This poem is written Blank Verse and the meter is iambic pentameter. One can also say that the poem is a lyric narrative.

The poem has a young married couple as characters. The poem begins in a tightly knit setting. The dialogues of the husband and the wife are natural sounding. The whole poem reads like a short story. 

Many have argued that the poem deals with a marriage falling apart due to grief and anger but it is more about an existential concern which the wife suggests towards the end that no matter how we pretend in this world, we are naturally alone in our life and death. 

The poem portrays the rural set up in which husband and wife have recently buried their only child. Both of them are suffering but both are unable to understand the different ways of their mourning. In a wider sense, the poet also contemplates the nature of the relationship between both genders and how they misinterpret each other most of the time. 

The narration slowly associates with the themes of loss, anger, blame, and denial. John Robert Doyle wrote that this poem “examines the relationship between the living and the dead.

Both husband and wife after losing their only child are unable to process their grief. The wife has secluded into herself and the husband is constantly trying to make her share her feelings with him.

His every attempt becomes offensive for her because of his manly lack of empathy and choice of words. It makes him look like being insensitive towards the death of their child. 

Frost’s sentences always depict the tone of voice. In this poem, the dialogues are precisely written. The despair of wife and husband towards each other is expressed with all the subtilities.

When the husband is describing the graveyard of the family, the wife bursts out the moment he describes their child’s mound. She shouts “don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t,” and it effectively describes the depth of pain which she feels from the loss.

Her physical postures are described in the poem in such a way that we get to understand the emotional state in which she is. 

The husband repeats twice “Can’t a man speak of his own child?” It depicts his attempt to express what he truly feels but is unable to show the way his wife does. It is the difference in the manner of their suffering.

When the husband is unable to express in words, the wife suffers vividly. Out of despair, the husband says that A man must partly give up being a man with women-folk. In such an atmosphere, the wife feels suffocated and wants to get some air. 

The husband and the wife are characterized here in their traditional gender roles. Even when they speak openly, they are unable to communicate. In the end, the wife contemplates on the essentiality which the idea of death brings.

Even the friends who talk of following to the grave, have their own life to indulge in. So, no one suffers truly for the dead because the ones who are alive can never have truly the time to suffer for the dead.

The image of the graveyard depicted by the husband is sharp imagery in the poem. The wife gives the image of the digging husband. Such minor descriptions give us a sense of what is going through the mind of the characters.

The poem shows us the state of human relationships and its relation to the inevitable fact of death. It shows how death brings out the reality from the detailed pretension which human beings make in their lives.