A Considerable Speck by Robert Frost: Literary Interpretation

Like the poet we are also puzzled at the sight of speck first but later finding it unmistakably a living mite. But it was more remarkable that the mite, though it was tiny, expressed by its actions how much it didn't want to die.

Robert Frost (1874-1963)

From the following lines we get hints of what the writer's ideas are:

 It faltered: I could see it hesitate;

Then in the middle of the open sheet

Cower down in desperation to accept


When we compare the situation of the given lines with the following line, essence of the text will become obvious:

 "To express how much it didn't want to die:

The mite was certainly struggling against death because "it didn't want to die". When it found itself unable to fight anymore, it cowered down in desperation to accept his fate - death. The poet lets it lie until it slept (died). It is clear that the text is concerned with the recent philosophy of death and dying people. A similar theme can be studied in Virginia Woolf’s "The Death of the Moth." She writes, "He was little or nothing but life." After the vital struggle against almighty Death, the moth accepted it. "The struggle was over. The significant little creature now knew death." The same case is with the mite. It (for being insect) was little or nothing but life, and being life, it had to encounter with Death. In the words of the Tibetan poet Milarepa, "All worldly pursuits end in sorrow, acquisition in dispersion, buildings in destruction, meetings in separation, birth in death." ("We Are Breaking the Silence About Death", by Daniel Goleman.)

The mite goes through usual progression - from denial of death through rage, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. The mite ran with terror and with cunning crept. It faltered, hesitated. Finally, it accepted his fate. The poet, as we have mentioned before, let it sleep. "This poor microscopic item" was a wonderful but very realistic lesson to the poet. That's why he was much glad to find the display of mind on his white sheet of paper.

The poem is prosaic in form. A sentence runs on other lines, too, with its parts. This prosaic form is suitable to the argumentation theme of life and death. The poet takes the analogy of dying, and later dead, mite only to relate it to usual human life, and possibly to other creatures as well. Rhyming pattern sight / white, there/air, ink/think etc. is regular in most part of the poem except in some lines that seem to appear so suddenly that the change itself delights us.

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Shrestha, Roma. "A Considerable Speck by Robert Frost: Literary Interpretation." BachelorandMaster, 31 Aug. 2014, bachelorandmaster.com/britishandamericanpoetry/a-considerable-speck-literary-interpretation.html.