Robert Frost's "Home Burial". How is 'home' expected to be?

Essay, 2014

9 Pages

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Describe how Robert Frost expects a “home” to be?

Human beings are always willing to live with happiness in their mind. For such kind of happiness, home is the most appropriate place for a person. That is why, there is a clear difference between the terms home and house. Home is a place where people live with feelings and emotions. House also a place that people can live. However, the house is distant from feelings and emotions of the people. Using the central theme as “home”, Robert Frost composes a poem known as “Home Burial” which implies how a man and woman struggle with some difficulties under their own home, after the burial of their child. Depicting the relationship between these two people as husband and wife who live under the same roof, Frost tells us how should be the relationship and living condition within a home. Frost directly tells us the problematic nature of a house in his poem “Home Burial” and through that the poet indirectly tells us how should be a home.

The title of the poem is Home Burial. Home is a place that can see the pleasure in the mind of the people. However the meaning of the term “Burial” is connected for some sad feelings. As a contrast, the poet uses two different meaning together for conveying the real situation of the home for readers. In simple idea, using the title in this manner, the poet says that the happiness of the house is buried. By giving this kind of understanding about the home, at the beginning of the poem, the poet makes his way clear to analyze the inside condition of the house.

At the beginning of the poem, the poet mentions about a staircase. The poet says that the way husband sees his wife using the staircase. In this point, the writer uses the staircase as a symbol to indicate the emotional and physical distance between husband and wife. The wife is on the top of the staircase and husband sees her from bottom. The writer places this incident in the poem in this manner.

“He saw her from the bottom of the stairs Before she saw him”

(Home Burial, line1, 2)

This distance makes a lot of problems in their lives. Husband and wife live within their own home as isolated people. As a result of this, they don’t pay any attention towards each other. When husband tell something for wife,she tries to ignore him, because the distance between them makes them to do so. According to the poet, it can be seen as following.

“What is it you see From up there always?—for I want to know”

“She turned and sank upon her skirts at that”

(Home Burial, line, 6, 7, 8)

This kind of distance should not be within the members of a family, especially inside the same home, because they are the people who can share their all difficulties and happiness in their lives. However, when there is a distance among them, it makes some unpleasant atmosphere inside the home. Husband and wife should have a close relationship, because then only they can live happily, solving their problems. Throughout the poem, the poet says indirectly, it is better to have a close relationship among the members of a family.

For preserving harmony and the happiness of a home, people should have strong understanding and a good interaction among them. In the poem “home Burial”, the writer conveys ironically that there is no mutual understanding between them. In some situation, husband wants to speak with her wife but he doesn’t know how to speak her.

“I don’t know how to speak of anything So as to please you”

(Home Burial. Line 51, 52)

After their marriage, they begin to live together under a same roof. As a result of their marriage, they have children. However husband says that he doesn’t know how to speak his wife to please her. At the end of the poem, the wife wishes to give up her home, because she cannot gain any rest in that place. However her husband doesn’t have any idea about the place where she can go in such kind of situation.

“Where do you mean to go? First tell me that. I’ll follow and bring you back by force. I will!—“

(Home Burial. Line 121, 122)

In the poem, the poet uses a window as a metaphor. While James Joyce uses the window in his short story to combine present and past Frost uses the window to indicate the narrow mind and the lack of understanding of the lady. The lady sees all the things regarding the grave of her son through the window. However through the window, it is hard to see the whole world. Based on the things that she sees through the window she interprets and decides the incident. This narrow view of the lady makes her to misunderstand her husband.

From theses evidences, it is obvious that there is no sound understanding between them. In such a situation it is not hard to imagine the living style of the husband and wife in their own place. That is the reason for wife to say that “you don’t know how to ask it” (Home Burial. Line 48). According to the poem, the lady is suffering from the sorrow of the death of her son. Therefore she seeks love and affection of her husband to share her sufferings, because she doesn’t want to suffer further more. If man cannot understand his wife, how does she hope a help from her husband? The man addresses the lady by her name. When he uses her name without using some affectionate terms, it indicates that suffering is in a personal level not common for both of them.

When people live in a home with their people, they should have good understanding about their mind set up and their needs. Then only they can live without problems. When others suffer from problems, people should have with them. Then they can share their sufferings and relax the mind. If there is such a situation inside a home that home can keep as a home and there is no little space for a home to become a house and people of the home will not be isolated. Here in the poem “Home Burial”, using a conversational form the poet says about the importance of the understanding and communication for a family to conduct the peaceful atmosphere.

Throughout the poem, the poet uses “power” also as a theme of the poem, because in many situations the power goes hand to hand of the man and the woman. At the beginning of the poem, the man becomes powerful and gives commands and orders for the wife.

“I’ll find out how—you must tell me, dear”

(Home Burial. Line 12)

However in the middle of the poem, the wife becomes powerful and she avoids answering for her husband. Again at the end husband is more powerful than the lady. To establish the notion about the power, the poet uses a commanding language and questions. The way of using punctuation marks in some situations, at the end of the dialogues also develops the idea of male domination inside the home and power of the lady.

“What is it you see From up there always?—For I want to know”

(Home Burial. Line 6, 7)

“With your own hand—how could you?—his little grave;”

(Home Burial. Line 79)

According to English grammar, it is not allowed for us to use two punctuation marks together in the same position. And also there is no rule to begin a sentence from the term “because”. However, the poet purposefully makes these grammatical mistakes to establish the notion of power. It is not a fact for wonder about having male domination of that society, because those days males are the powerful figures of the society. However, it is not reasonable to use his power against his wife when she is in a depression. When she wants his love and affection to console her heart, he uses his power against the lady. Think how would be the mind set up of the lady. If the husband uses some affectionate terms to address her, it may be a relief for her. Instead of paying his affection towards his wife, he uses her name. In one occasion, he uses the word “dear”, but it is not enough to convey his love towards her. Instead of giving love, he uses that term to imply belongingness.

“I will find out now—you must tell me, dear”

(Home Burial. Line 12)

In simple meaning, he says that the lady is a property which belong him and she has a responsibility to answer. And also when the lady keep her feet to come down, at once she takes it back, because she sees the man at the bottom of the staircase and she has no strength to pass him. This implies the notion of the power inside the home.In this light, throughout the poem, the poet tells how the affection of the power inside the home and how it makes a prison inside the home.

Whatever the condition of the society, if the people use their power inside the home to overwhelm others, it may make many problems inside the home. When there is an intimate relationship among members of a home, they can behave freely with them. Then only people can share their grievances with them. Especially husband and wife should have a peaceful and an intimate relationship between them, because it decides the development of the home, as the backbone of the home. As well as the man, woman also plays an important role inside a home. Therefore it is not reasonable to use the power of the man against the woman. When power comes in to being inside a home, it vanishes the happiness of the home. So, it is important to concern woman and man as equal to have a better future for a home. And also it may help to keep a home as an ideal home.

Patience is a good remedy for many problems. When people have problems, they have to face them, because it is better than escaping from them. If it is a problem inside the home, people can find solutions with the help of others. If people escape from the problem one by one, there may not be a home in future. Therefore with the help of others, people should do their best to solve the problems. To fulfill that goal, people should practice the patience.

In the poem “Home Burial”, the poet says the lady is going to give up her home and find another place where she can expect a help to build her life and to console her heart. At the beginning of the poem, the poet says the lady is about to step down the staircase.

“She was starting down Looking back over her shoulder at some fear”

(Home Burial. Line, 2, 3)

And also at the end of the poem, it shows the way she goes from the home.

“You—oh, you think the talk is all. I must go – Somewhere out of this house. How can I make you----“

(Home Burial. Line 118, 119)

That is her own home and he is her husband. If there is anything wrong, as the wife of the home, she has a right to correct him. If he cannot understand, she can explain the things for him, because he is her husband. They have an intimate relationship that is why they havechildren. Therefore she can discuss with him. In this way she can make an attempt to make the condition better than escape from that. As a whole, if people can practice the patience, it may help them to build a peaceful home that filled with pleasure.

At a glance, many people may think that the death of the child is the main problem between husband and wife to make them separate from each other, because at the end of the poem, the poet reveals the ideas of the woman in her mind about the death of the child and the husband’s behavior in the occasion of burial. If anyone go deeper with the poem, it is not hard to understand that it is not the death of the child but the ego of the husband and wife. For the wife, the death of the child is a big depression and she always spends her time thinking about that. The man also thinks about the death of the child. To convey the suffering of the man, the poet uses the technique “euphemism” in the poem. Instead of saying the term death, the poet applies the term lost.

“Can’t a man speak of his own child he’s lost?”

(Home Burial. Line 38)

That means, the man doesn’t like to think that it as a death of his child. Though it is a sorrowful thing, the man does his every day work without thinking about it.

However, the wife wants to see the suffering of her husband in physically and mentally, because she likes to see the things from man as she does. When the things are going on every day, wife can see the difference between the behavior of her and the man. This is the starting point of their problem and because of that problem; it makes many problem between them.

“The wonder is I didn’t see at once. I never noticed it from here before I must be wonted to it—that’s the reason”

(Home Burial. Line 21, 22, 23)

As human beings, all like to see that others also doing their tasks as us. However in many situations it is not happened as it is. So this may be made many problems among people. Therefore people should understand the truth that the mind set up is different from person to person. Then, they can live without problems. Especially within a home, it should be done. Many problems happen between husband and wife because of this idea. So it is better to understand the nature of human beings to live without struggles.

For a successful family life or to have a home filled with happiness, the sexual interaction between husband and wife is an essential fact. At the beginning of their lives, there may such kind of relationship between this man and woman. That is why they have children. However, at present, there is no evidence to make such kind of decision, because the lady refuses the help of the man. Ironically this indicates the lack of sexual relationship between husband and wife. According to the poem, when man puts his arm around the lady, she makes her body relax from his grasp.

“She withdrew, shrinking from beneath his arm That rested on the banister, and slid downstairs”

(Home Burial. Line 35, 36)

However to have a happy environment within a home, it is essential to have an sexual interaction between husband and wife. When any of them offers their help to others, they should be flexible to gain that help. Then only they can protect the strength of their relationship.

Throughout the poem the poet uses a dramatical structure for the poem. This structure makes the way for readers to understand the nature of the man and the woman inside the home. According to them, it shows that they don’t want to establish any relationship between them, because both of them are using power to control them. However for a home those kind of addressing terms are not appropriate. The addressing terms should be attractive and lovable. Then only those terms can make a relationship among people. Therefore when people use addressing terms, they should be very careful, because they can make and break relationships.

As a result of above mentioned all facts, finally, it shows how a home becomes a house.

“ You—oh, you think the talk is all. I must go— Somewhere out of this house”

(Home Burial, Lines, 118, 119)

In this way, Frost tells us indirectly through the poem “Home Burial”, the nature of an ideal home and also the way a home can become a house.


Frost, Robert. “Home Burial”. Accessed via

Lee, Rachel. “Ways of Grieving”. Accessed via

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Robert Frost's "Home Burial". How is 'home' expected to be?
BA in Languages
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ISBN (Book)
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robert, frost, home, burial
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Sugandika Sandamali (Author), 2014, Robert Frost's "Home Burial". How is 'home' expected to be?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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