There was never a sound beside the wood but one,
And that was my long scythe whispering to the ground.
What was it it whispered? I knew not well myself;
Perhaps it was something about the heat of the sun,
Something, perhaps, about the lack of sound—
And that was why it whispered and did not speak.
It was no dream of the gift of idle hours,
Or easy gold at the hand of fay or elf:
Anything more than the truth would have seemed too weak
To the earnest love that laid the swale in rows,
Not without feeble-pointed spikes of flowers
(Pale orchises), and scared a bright green snake.
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows.
My long scythe whispered and left the hay to make.
On a hot day, when the narrator is working in the field, at that time he notices that his scythe appears to be whispering as it works. But he is unable to understand about the voice of the scythe or he does not realize what the scythe is saying. He confesses the possibility that the whispering sound is simply his imagination or even the result of heatstroke. He again thinks about the sound a scythe makes mowing hay in a field by a forest, and what this sound might signify.
He rejects the idea that it speaks of something dreamlike or supernatural, gradually he determines that the scythe may be expressing its own
beliefs about the world. Instead of dreaming about inactivity or reward for its labor as a person would, the scythe takes its sole pleasure from its hard work. It receives satisfaction from “the fact” of its earnest labor in the field, not from transient dreams or irrational hopes. The speaker need not call on fanciful invention.
Form: Generally “Mowing” includes the standard fourteen lines but in terms of rhyme scheme; it does not follow the traditional form of the sonnet. Somebody think it is a sonnet. The rhyme scheme of this sonnet is: ABC ABD ECD GEH GH. In the real terms of rhyme, “Mowing” does not fit into either a strict Shakespearean or Petrarchan model; rather, it draws a little from both traditions.
Thematically the poem is divided into an octet and a sextet. The first eight lines introduce about the sound of the scythe and then muse about the abstract or imaginary significance of this sound; the last six lines present an alternative analysis and celebrating fact. Each line comprises five stressed syllables separated by varying numbers of unstressed syllables. Only the 12th line can reasonably be read as strictly iambic. The poet employs specific sounds or his “sound of sense” technique and syllables in order to construct an aural feeling of the subject and narrative intention.
Symbolism: He has used different symbolic words; such as: “whisper”. The word is significant because it personifies the scythe, transforming it into a companion and working colleague for the narrator rather than an inanimate farming tool. His emphasis on reality — the lives and struggles of real people — makes his poetry sweeter and more effective than any traditional sonnet that narrates fairytale lands. Yet, in the true sense Frost’s “Mowing,” is far more significant than imaginative fancies of gold and sprites.
Development of thought: This poem is one of the first in which Frost utilizes his “sound of sense” technique. Within this technique, the poet employs specific sounds and syllables in order to construct an aural feeling of the subject and narrative intention. The fact that Frost uses the word “whisper” is significant because it personifies the scythe, transforming it into a companion and working colleague for the narrator rather than an inanimate farming tool. With that in mind, the scythe and its philosophical view on work could actually be seen as a reflection of the narrator’s own beliefs, or rather a belief that the farmer hopes to have as he continues to work on his farm.
Frost was well known for writing poetry about everyday life on the farms of New England – a topic that did not always seem appropriate for the high art of poetry. Yet, as Frost points out in “Mowing,” truth and fact are far more significant than imaginative fancies of gold and elves. In other words, his emphasis on reality — the lives and struggles of real people — makes his poetry sweeter and more effective than any traditional sonnet that narrates magical lands.
Author: Mahbub Murad, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Cell:+8801919879309, +880137136794. Email: Mahbub_murad@yahoo.com