Frost’s Thirteenth Line

     Albert von Frank analyzes a line from Frost’s “The Gift Outright”. His focus is on the thirteenth line of the poem and he chooses to frame it as a separate entity from the rest of the poem. He states that it has a sense of isolation because of its parentheses and that it is grammatically different from the rest of the work. He goes on to state that Frost does so because it is a “characterization of the poem as being about Revolutionary War”. It also has a sense of irony caused by the phrase ‘the deed of gift’. von Frank says the irony stems from the definition of the phrase. It does not simply mean to give but an underlying reference to Faustus. This part of the line is used multiple times in the play and has a deeper meaning than a textbook definition. von Frank draws the parallel that it is understood as having “distinctive peculiarities of the deed are that it is sealed in blood and that it involves the giving of the self, body, and soul”. Continuing along this analysis he states that Frost might have thought that the development of American identity in terms of the myth. Frost’s use of ‘possess’ is also an allusion to Faustus’ contract with Mephistopheles. The author relates the possibility of Frost’s implied references as being “possessed” by either a “debilitating God or invigorating Satan” that will have causation on the developing America. von Frank states that Frost believes, that as long as America was ‘possessed’ political, cultural, and spiritual by England still, it would  be weak and dependent on England. The author concludes by saying that Frost’s parable, like Faustus the ‘deed of gift’ invokes salvation. However, unlike Faustus America is redeemed through immersion into “self-reliance and the violence of war”.

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