Study Guide

Design The Supernatural

By Robert Frost

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The Supernatural

In "Design" there's a lot of supernatural stuff going on. We've got the big guns of the supernatural world: God and the cosmic forces that control our lives. But we also have the small potatoes of the other-worldly realm—witches, overweight spiders, and pale flowers. The whole poem is about big things and small things and whether those big and small things are controlled by superstition, by God, or (hang on to your hackey-sacks) even by nothing at all.

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. Why do you think Frost chose a heal-all as the flower for this scene?
  2. How does his reference to the "witches' broth" change what we previously thought about the scene?
  3. How do you think Frost would answer the rhetorical questions in lines 9-12?
  4. Does this poem view religion as something supernatural? How do you know?

Chew on This

The first stanza refers only to small superstitions (the spider, the heal-all, the witches' broth), but Frost takes his supernatural discussions to a cosmic level by the end of the poem. Far out, Frosty.

Even though Frost makes plenty of references to the supernatural, at the end of the poem we still aren't sure whether he even believes that anything supernatural exists.

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