Abandonment and Singularity in Robert Frost's Poetry.

1463 Words May 4th, 2008 6 Pages
“One is the Loneliest Number” or “Does Zero Count?”
Abandonment and Singularity in Robert Frost’s “The Census- Taker”

Robert Frost’s approach to human isolation is always an interesting exploration. His poem of desertion and neglect paired with eternal hopefulness ignite the reader in his poem “The Census-Taker.” All of the elements of a Frost poem are in this particular poem. “The Census-Taker” must be from an earlier time in Frost’s career because the poem is written in an open, free verse similar to the style of his earlier 20th century poetry like “Mending Wall” and “After Apple-Picking.” Also, the language lacks the sophisticated word selection a reader of poetry might find in Wallace Stevens and instead uses simplicity to
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Moving forward, Frost’s usage of singular adjectives stands out like a sore thumb as he continues to describe the damaged home. The census- taker mentions “every tree,” (line 18) talks about the leafless trees that would not help a passerby identify the seasons. Grammatically, the adjective “every” carries a paradoxical element. “Every” plays the role of a singular modifier, yet it describes objects in a group a least larger than three and cannot be used for merely two objects. “Every” is not wholly singular as the adjective “each” may be, nor is it completely plural like the function of another adjective, “all.” Frost uses the isolating modifier “each” when he describes the slamming of the house’s door by its raucous inhabitants. He says, “… as if rude men/Passed in and slammed it such each one behind him/ for the next one to open for himself.” (line 29-30) We finally see people and community in the poem, and Frost immediately separates and individualizes his pack of men to suggest a segregation of psychological difference. It is important to point out that Frost’s option to use “anyone” (line 34) only occurs once, possibly because the idea of any one person to be present maybe to extreme in an area made of intense loneliness. This is a home where men are there for a clear purpose, and whatever that purpose may have been, it no longer