© 2015 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

CHECK OUT SHMOOP'S FREE STUDY TOOLS:

Essay Lab | Math Shack | Videos

Birches

Birches

by

Robert Frost

CHECK OUT SHMOOP'S FREE STUDY TOOLS:

Essay Lab | Math Shack | Videos

Lines 32-40 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 32-35

[…] He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground […]

  • The boy starts to get better about swinging the trees over time.
  • He learns to get all the way to the top of the tree and not bend it too soon, before he's reached the top.
  • If he did jump out too soon, the tree would be damaged.
  • If you're a science person, think of this as a Physics lesson combined with a Biology lesson: the tree is a flexible lever; the roots are the fulcrum; the boy is the load.

Lines 35-38

[…] He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.

  • Now we're getting some details of how the boy becomes better at swinging the trees.
  • He keeps "his poise," meaning he stays balanced and calm, sort of hovering up on a tree branch.
  • The speaker compares it to filling a cup to the brim. If you are pouring liquid into a cup, you are so careful not to overflow the cup, so you add a small amount of the liquid at a time. Then you add just a teeny bit more and the liquid forms a dome just above the rim of the cup.
  • Think of this one as a Chemistry lesson. Are you beginning to notice that nature and science play important roles in this Frost poem?

Lines 39-40

Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his was down through the air to the ground.

  • The boy has filled the metaphorical cup above the brim and has now reached the top of the tree.
  • Next he kicks his feet out (presumably holding onto a branch) and uses the tree like a bungee chord.
  • The tree bends just enough so that the boy is lowered to the ground without harm.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement
Noodle's College Search
Noodle's College Search
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement