Maybe She’s Born With It: intentions behind “The Silken Tent”

Robert Frost’s poem “The Silken Tent” is in all ways very “Frost-y”, if you will. It is calm and collected, relying heavily on imagery to convey meaning. However, this sonnet, seems to offer something different. In comparison to other modernist poems, this one is much lighter in tone. “She is as in a field a silken tent / At midday” (lines 1-2), are the first lines of the poem which frame the rest of the piece. How sweet and refreshing, a lovely simile that compares a woman to a silky tent in a field on a warm day. The poem is one long sentence that further continues to reveal more and more about the image of the silken tent as compared to the woman.

And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, (5-9)

Although it seems as a simple admiration of a woman on a summer day, with her spine the pinnacle to heaven, “The Silken Tent” reveals something subliminal through its next continuing lines that could be taken in several ways. After a breezy description of the woman’s image glowing and flowing gracefully on this summer day, we reach a turning point. “And only by one’s going slightly taut / In the capriciousness of summer air /Is of the slightest bondage made aware.” (12-14) These final lines suggest that this woman is not the perfect and pure pinnacle that she seemed to be from a distance; that the hot air reveals the ties that are holding together the what appeared to be graceful and floating tent in the breeze. So what does this mean for the poem? Could this have a sort of demeaning tone to it; as if women are not as beautiful and graceful as they appear? I believe that “The Silken Tent” had no intentions to demean or point out women’s flaws, I think that it rather reveals something true and raw about a woman. Yes, women are seen as graceful and elegant, however, when made comfortable (like on a hot summer day) women are allowed to reveal themselves as something more human. However, without the ropes supporting the woman tent, then there would be no graceful swaying in the wind. I think that this poem is simple and raw in the way it shows no bias towards the way a woman is composed. We women are complete with the binding that ties us down, nothing more nothing less.


This entry was posted in CloseRead. Bookmark the permalink.