Study Guide

The Tuft of Flowers Introduction

By Robert Frost

The Tuft of Flowers Introduction

You know him; you love him. He's the guy who brought you "The Road Not Taken" and who's pretty much become associated with American poetry ever since. It may shock you to learn that Robert Frost actually wrote more than just one poem, but in fact the guy was a giant of American lit.

Indeed, Frost had a long and distinguished career as a poet, which began pretty much as soon as he started writing seriously. At first, he tried his hand at farming in New Hampshire with his wife Elinor (who was the co-valedictorian with him in high school), but…yeah, that didn't work out so well. Frost wised up, turned in his plow, and headed over to England in 1912.

It was a good idea. Just a year later in 1913, the very first publishing company Frost contacted published his book, A Boy's Will. His second book, North of Boston, came out a year later in 1914. That collection sold so well that the publishers decided to re-release A Boy's Will again in 1915, hoping to cash in on some of Frost's North of Boston fame.

It worked, of course. Frost went on to become one of the biggest names in American poetry since…well, ever. He won four (count 'em) Pulitzer Prizes for his work, and even read a poem at the inaugural address of President John F. Kennedy. Before all the fame, though, the collection that started it all was A Boy's Will, which featured "The Tuft of Flowers."

True to Frost's typical form, the poem tells the story of a speaker who heads out into the New England wilderness to realize a deeper truth about the world. In this case, a speaker who's about to turn over a field of newly cut grass is feeling isolated, but then decides—after a run-in with the mower's handiwork—that he's profoundly connected to others.

This is a good "pick me up" poem, especially if you're feeling like you're on your own. Frost's speaker goes down that road, but eventually hangs a sharp U-turn and decides that none of us, ever, are truly by ourselves. It's a comforting thought, really. More than that, it's a great poem.

What is The Tuft of Flowers About and Why Should I Care?

You've been dumped. Your friends went to the mall without you. You're at a new school and you don't have anyone to each lunch with. You feel—say it with us, Shmoopers—all alone. Let's face it: we all feel this way at some point in our lives. That's too bad, really, for a couple of reasons.

Reason #1: It's a totally crummy feeling. It feels like nobody understands, or even cares. There is no one you can turn to, to share your feelings or to make you feel like you belong.

Reason #2: It may not be true. Sure, you might feel alone, but are you really? Are you ever truly by yourself? After all, there are about six and a half billion people on this planet. And even if you don't know them, or even see them, you might still be connected to them.

This is the kind of realization that strikes the speaker of Robert Frost's "The Tuft of Flowers." It goes something like this: if I'm surrounded by the evidence of others' ideas and efforts, then I can't really be alone in the world. I'm connected to them through the work they leave behind.

Another way to think of this is by reading this very sentence. We wrote this, right? Right. And we are here on this planet, right? (We are; we swear.) And you're here on this planet, reading the very words we wrote. So, just by reading these words, Shmooper, you share a connection to us. Sure, you may not want to let us borrow your car anytime soon (though we're super-careful drivers), but we're connected nonetheless. We're together, you and us, undeniably.

And the same can be said for the person who made your clothes, or that sandwich you had for lunch, or that song that's playing in the background right now, or this very same Robert Frost poem you have to read for school. There—you don't feel so alone now, do you?

The Tuft of Flowers Resources

Websites

Toot Toot
Hear that? It's the sound of our own horn. Seriously, though, you should check us out.

A Foundation of Frost
The Poetry Foundation serves up a hearty overview of Frost's poetry.

Video

Sock (Puppet) It to Us
Okay…here's a sock puppet performance of the poem, complete with sound effects—enjoy.

Video Tribute
If you can get past the cheesy music, you'll enjoy a view of an elephant and a giraffe standing back to back.

Audio

Frost Himself
Listen to Frost read his own poem (he starts up about 20 seconds in).

Librivox of "Flowers"
Here's the poem read in a pleasing woman's voice.

Images

Classic Frost
Here's a face that's famously associated with American poetry.

Frost + Axe
Here's Frost getting read to do chores—and totally not murder anyone or anything like that.

Young Frost
He's often shown in his older years, so here's a peek at younger Frost.

Articles and Interviews

Robert on Robert
Famous American poet Robert Lowell wrote this obituary for Frost when Frost died in 1963.

"Robert Frost: Darkness or Light?"
50 years after his death, New Yorker magazine considered Frost's legacy.

Books

A Boy's Will
We've got your hook-up, Shmoopers. You can read the whole book online for free right here.

Collected Poems
If you simply must own a book, this one's got you covered when it comes to all things Frost.

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