unigo_skin
© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
 

Themes

Youth, like death, is a constant backdrop for many of Frost's poems. The speaker of "Birches" never sees a boy or comes across one. He only imagines one, and the boy that he does imagine is himself at a younger age. The boy seems to be similar to William Wordsworth and Walt Whitman's portrayals of boys. These boys have their own rules and wisdom that they can pass on to the older men and women around them. They are ready for adventures in nature and represent the wild, untamed state of "man" that remains good and moral even though no one is there to govern him.

Questions About Youth

  1. Does the speaker see the boy as symbolic? If so, of what is he symbolic?
  2. Why is it important that the boy is poised and patient while swinging birches?
  3. Why does the boy need to conquer his father's trees?
  4. What about the boy is other-worldly?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Life as a youth is just as much as a pathless wood as in adulthood; it's the lack of considerations that makes youth easier.

The boy in "Birches" is the teacher to the speaker.

Advertisement
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertisement
back to top