Date of Defense
Isolated from the corpus of Robert Frost's poetry, "West-running Brook" is a confusing and difficult poem. It records the conversation of a young married couple observing a country brook. The wife notices that the brook flows in a westerly direction and is puzzled because she has always known country brooks to flow east. In addition she observes that the brook has an unusual ripple in it caused by a sunken rock which throws the water back against the current of the stream. With her husband she perceives the brook as a symbol for their marriage and they discuss the particular significance that the brook has for them. At one point in the poem the husband delivers a long soliloquy in which he explains that their relationship to life is like the relationship of the ripple to the current of the stream. The poem is disconcerting, for the man and his wife seem to exist in a private world of heightened sensibility that the reader is unable to join. The symbols which have so much meaning In the communication of this couple are not easily organized into a comprehensible pattern by the reader.
Nienhuis, Terry R., "Marriage and the Master Speed: An Interpretation of Robert Frost's "West-Running Brook"" (1967). Honors Theses. 845.
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