Out, Out—

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"Out, out" redirects here. For the "Out, out brief candle" passage from Macbeth, see Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. For the "Out—out are the lights—out all!" line, see The Conqueror Worm.
Out, Out—

The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside them in her apron
To tell them “Supper.” At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap—
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy's first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all—
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart—
He saw all spoiled. “Don’t let him cut my hand off—
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!”
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then—the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Little—less—nothing!—and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.[1]

Out, Out—” is a poem by American poet Robert Frost, published in 1916. It tells the story of a young boy who dies after his hand is severed by a "buzz-saw". The poem focuses on people's reactions to death, as well as the death itself, one of the main ideas being that life goes on. The poem was apparently based on a true event which is believed to have occurred in March 1910. Raymond Fitzgerald, the son of Frost's friend and neighbour, lost his hand to a buzz saw and bled so profusely that he went into shock, dying in spite of his doctor's efforts.

Frost uses personification to great effect throughout the poem. The buzz saw, although technically an inanimate object, is described as a cognizant being — "snarling" and "rattling" repeatedly, as well as "leaping" out at the boy's hand in excitement.

Frost concentrates on the apparent innocence and passivity of the boy — which is relevant to the time period — as Frost was forced to move back to America due to war in Britain just a year before the poem was written. Bearing this in mind, the poem can be read as a critique as to how warfare can force innocent, young boys to leave their childhood behind, and ultimately be destroyed by circumstances created by the 'responsible' adult.

The last line is detached and blunt, mirroring the soldier's attitude and ability to detach himself from his emotions and continue killing despite the dead bodies surrounding him. It also appears to be somewhat sarcastic; Frost disapproves of our disposable attitude towards life.

The title of the poem is an allusion to William Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth ("Out, out, brief candle ..." in the Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow soliloquy). Macbeth is shocked to hear of his wife's death and comments on the brevity of life. It refers to how unpredictable and fragile life is.

This poem uses some figurative language including onomatopoeia, alliteration, imagery, and many others. Harold Bloom said it is "one of Frost's most respected poems, but it has not received the same depth of critical attention and explication as poems such as "The Road Not Taken (poem)" and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." [2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Text of the poem from Out, Out—
  2. ^ Little, Michael R.; Bloom, Harold (2009). Bloom's How to Write about Robert Frost, p. 161, Infobase Publishing, ISBN 978-1-60413-347-9