Compare and Contrast the Poetry of Frost and Sandberg

Young or old, enlightened or uneducated, philosophical or steadfast, poetry can be appreciated by all who give it a chance. Whether deciding which path to take when both have advantages and disadvantages or stopping to appreciate seemingly mundane situations, poetry sheds light on everyday existence. Notable poets of the twentieth century, Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg, each told stories about relatable circumstances; however, they did so in very different ways. Although both poets wrote about ordinary life encounters such as working hard, making choices and appreciating the beauty of the world, Frost wrote in a way more geared to intellectuals, making use of rhyme schemes, figurative language and other intricate techniques, while Sandburg’s style was more geared to the common man, using simplistic language and basic literary techniques.

In order to compare and contrast the poetry of Frost and Sandburg it is important to first analyze their poetic style and works. The works of Frost that will be analyzed are “The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and the works of Sandburg that will be analyzed are “Lost” and “Psalm of Those Who Go Forth.

Carl Sandburg’s poetry is often described as poetry for that of the common man. He was often described as “a workingman’s poet” and is praised for celebrating the common man in poems like ‘The People, Yes’ (Heitman par. 7, 44). “Sandburg composed his poetry primarily in free verse,” (Carl Sandburg Poetry Foundation par. 2). Literary commentator, Joseph Epstein said “Sandburg had no real appetite for complexity.

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He never went very deep—no deeper, really, than the folk songs he sang,” (Heitman par. 41).

Robert Frost’s poetry mostly falls into the modernist category and typically includes rhymes (Robert Frost Poetry Foundation par. 12). “He is noted for his faithful depiction of colloquial speech, his muscular, oftentimes ambiguous imagery, and his command of a pervasive and terrifying irony that belies any characterization of him as merely a genial purveyor of rural wisdom,” (Domestico par. 1).

The purpose of the poem ‘Lost’ by Carl Sandburg is to describe someone’s experience lost on a lake; however, there is an underlying message of somebody trying to find his or her way. The lake is largely a metaphor for a difficult and somewhat scary situation someone is trying to navigate through. The poem makes use of personification and similes which aid in bringing the lake to life, and making the situation more vivid. This poem falls in to Sandburg’s typical style of writing to “the commoner” because rich or poor, everyone is faced with adversity at one point or another, and navigating through these situations can be difficult. The poem also uses vivid imagery, however the language is simple in nature, and creates an image of the uncanny scenery.

‘Psalm of Those Who Go Forth Before Daylight,’ also written by Carl Sandburg, is a poem that gives credit to underappreciated blue collar workers. By definition, a psalm is “a sacred song or poem used in worship,” (Merriam-Webster). The poem, which is not really a poem, uses mundane language, and makes use of no figurative language nor imagery. The text describes what the blue collar workers do and a simple fact of their lives or personality. This text is consistent with Sandburg’s poetic trend to highlight the common man and draw attention to those without glamorous lives.

‘The Road Not Taken,’ is one of Robert Frost’s most famous poems. The purpose of the piece is to shed light on the difficult decisions we are often plagued with, but forced to make. The piece is part of a larger metaphor for life, alluding to the fact that life is largely shaped by the choices one makes, and that it is impossible to have every option. ‘The Road Not Taken’ has a rhyme scheme and uses vivid imagery along with ornate language, geared toward the enlightened.

Another notable poem by Robert Frost ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,’ describes a traveler’s experience watching snowfall in the woods. Like ‘The Road Not Taken,’ this poem has a rhyme scheme and includes personification and other figurative language. The purpose of the piece is to remind readers to appreciate the beauty of Earth. Frost uses intricate language in the poem to make the scene seem more beautiful.

When juxtaposing the writing of Carl Sandburg and Robert Frost, there are a number of similarities evident. To begin, both Sandburg and Frost wrote works largely based on situations that are ordinary on the surface.

Despite the similarities in the narrative of Sandburg’s and Frost’s works, the writing style and literary techniques the poets make use of are extraordinarily distinct.

In noting that Sandburg’s works are more straightforward and written for the commoner, while Frost’s works are more intricate and would likely be scrutinized by someone who is educated, it is important to question why.

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Compare and Contrast the Poetry of Frost and Sandberg. (2022, Apr 28). Retrieved from

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