Robert Frost (1874-1963)
He suddenly sees a something running across the page and stops to think over. He describes the whole process of its activities and then concludes that the presence of "mind" in that 'microscopic' creature is appreciable, because he appreciates 'mind' and imagination wherever it is found. The intention of the poet is to appreciate the mind, the imaginative and creative aspect of life, wherever it is found.
The subject of the poem seems to be the insect called a mite, but the actual issue and theme is the mind, its creativity and imagination. The writer has appreciated the mind of an almost invisible insect precisely because his own mind does not seem to produce much - for that is also one reason why he sees the mite on the page instead of going on to write! The poem is digressive in its development and concludes abruptly with an unexpected idea. The speaker first tells us that he saw a small insect on the page, when he was just about to stop his writing with a period (full stop in American English). Then his attention is drawn towards the object which at first looks like a speck of dust flying across the page due to his breath. After that, he gives us a long description of what the mite did, along with an interpretation of his own. This description is in itself interesting for all its typicality and vividness.
The mite first 'raced' wildly across the page and went to inspect the still wet ink, which it seemed to drink or smell, and then it returned, apparently hating its smell. Then the writer felt that the insect was too small to have any legs, but then though that it must have a complete set, since it was walking! It actually ran in terror, and expressed how much it didn't want to die. Next, it paused and hesitated (faltered); it trembled with fear and finally accepted whatever the man did to him. But when the mite surrendered in fear, the mind of the writer became more activated with several thoughts. This last section then includes the appreciation of the mind wherever it is present; at this point he also adds some ironical remarks and suggestions about the inhumanity of wars in the modem world.
The poet has used the technique of irony in the last part of the poem. He says that he doesn't have the "collectivistic regimenting love with which the modem world is being swept". This ironically, even satirically, means that he doesn't have the "love" of being able to destroy masses of people collectively, and so he could not kill the mite out of the simple anger of its trespassing on his page! The poet is satirizing the modem man who is able to destroy masses for small reasons. Once again, the poet talks in the pose of the modern man and say that the mite did not want any evil against him - as if he would kill if it wanted to do something against him. So, he let the mite lie (sleep) there on the paper until it slept.
Then the poet finally claims that he respects the presence of 'mind' anywhere, suggesting that he respects and appreciates the mite for that. Indirectly, he is satirizing the modern man who doesn't have the mind to understand that it is foolish to kill wise to preserve. Here, 'mind' represents and symbolizes the human capacity for imagination, sensibility, love and sympathy, and the intelligence that makes us able to think, discriminate and judge. This poem is actually about the importance of the human faculties of the mind and feelings.
Besides the straightforward appreciation of the mind, the theme of this poem is also more specifically the importance of the "display of mind" on any "sheet" of paper. This means that the poet is actually expressing his feeling of appreciation towards the 'display' of mind in any text. There must be life in the writing of anyone. If we reread the poem more critically, we see that the writer sees a living being just before he gives a full stop to his writing. Symbolically, this means that the writer sees that his writing has gotten "life" in it before he gives it a full stop, and that makes him satisfied. And he also tells us that he wants everyone to write in such a way that there is life and reality, some mind and imagination in the writing of any writer.
The poem is written in a rhythm that is very much like the rhythm of ordinary language. The diction (word-choice) is also unspectacular (not special). The simplicity and honesty of expression make us feel that the poet is not only expressing some feeling towards the other creatures but also genuine feeling what he says. The lack of high-sounding word-choice, typical metaphors and artificial rhythms supports the sense of this sincerity of expression and feeling in the poem. There is life in this poem in the sense that there is meaning and imaginative significance, reality and feeling that touch the reader, and sonic wit that makes it an interesting piece of literature.
Shrestha, Roma. "A Considerable Speck by Robert Frost: Critical Appreciation." BachelorandMaster, 31 Aug. 2014, bachelorandmaster.com/britishandamericanpoetry/a-considerable-speck-critical-appreciation.html.