Out, out by Robert Frost Summary


Robert Frost wrote ‘Out, Out – ‘in 1916. It is written in the memory of a boy from his neighborhood. The boy used to play with his children. One day, the boy died due to a buzz saw which cut his hand.

The theme of the poem is related to many other poems which Frost wrote about the futility of human life and tragedies which happen randomly in it.

The poem is written in blank verse. The form of this poem allows the cold grief and surprise which one feels after knowing about the death of someone close and familiar. 


Line 1 – 12

The buzz saw is the first thing introduced in the poem. It is personified as someone who is snarling and rattling in the yard. The dust comes out from the cutting of wood. The setting is realistically described. The scenery of five mountain ranges to the edge of the place called Vermont is visible.

The saw keeps snarling. The boy is using it to help out. The poet is premediating so he describes how until then nothing had happened. Those who were working there could have simply ended their work right then because enough cutting was already done.

They might have just relieved the boy from the work for half an hour to make him happy. The poet is anticipating all the ways which could have saved the boy’s life about which we are going to know by the end of the poem.

Line 13 – 27

The sister of the boy came and uttered “Supper” and this very word is shown in the poem as the beginning of the whole tragedy. The word supper must have turned the boy absentminded.

The saw comes in contact with the boy’s hand. The unbelievable grief of the poet is shown when it says “he must have given the hand.” The boy’s reaction to the tragedy is shown as one can imagine.

He is unable to believe that his hand is lacerated by the saw. His first outcry was a rueful laugh. He sees his own hands cut from his body. He is in shock and he has lost his faculty to process the shock.

He holds up his cut hand as if half in appeal. The blood keeps spilling out. He cries to his sister with anticipation when the doctor comes that “Don’t let him cut my hand off” but the poet writes that the hand was gone already

Line 28 -34

The doctor put him in the dark of ether which means he anesthetizes him. Someone was watching his heart pulses. The realization that his hand is taken away from him sends him into a shock. The people around him try to listen to his heartbeats but it slows down into little-less-nothing.

And it finally stops, he dies. The indifference towards the dead of the alive is shown here in the same way Frost shows in “home burial.” The poet writes here that once the boy’s life ends, no more to build on there. The ones who were around were not dead so they turned to their own life affairs.