Study Guide

Neither Out Far Nor in Deep Inertia

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We can't move forward if we're standing still, right? Inertia is just a fancy word that says exactly that. In "Neither Out Far Nor In Deep," we understand that standing around and forgetting how to get out and live makes us appear less than human. We end up looking like that solitary gull, all lonely and out of sorts.

Questions About Inertia

  1. How does the poem's wavelike sound contrast with the appearance of the people along the sand? Is there any significance in the difference? 
  2. What's so important about the imagery of the gull and people standing still? What's the speaker trying to say about their constant truth seeking? 
  3. Even though the sea is always moving, is there also a symbolic element of inertia to it? Why or why not? 
  4. If the people were described as occasionally moving around, would the poem have sounded any different? Would the theme of inertia still apply?

Chew on This

Inertia is an inevitable consequence to truth seeking in Frost's poem, since we often forget about our physical legs when our intellectual legs get ahead of us.

If the people along the sand moved around a bit more, the issue of inertia wouldn't be so profound and maybe the truth would be easier to find.

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