This text is to be used as a model for your assignment with the narrative poem "Eldorado." Please note that I have not only created hyperlinks, but I have also provided some explanation of the how the poetic devices used by Frost create tone and theme.
Robert Frost (1874–1963). A Boy’s Will. 1915.
24. The Tuft of Flowers
I WENT to turn the grass once after one
Who mowed it in the dew before the sun.
The dew was gone that made his blade so keen
Before I came to view the leveled scene.
I looked for him behind an isle of trees; 5
I listened for his whetstone on the breeze.
But he had gone his way, the grass all mown,
And I must be, as he had been,—alone,
‘As all must be,’ I said within my heart,
‘Whether they work together or apart.’ 10
But as I said it, swift there passed me by
On noiseless wing a ’wildered butterfly,
Seeking with memories grown dim o’er night
Some resting flower of yesterday’s delight.
And once I marked his flight go round and round, 15
As where some flower lay withering on the ground.
And then he flew as far as eye could see,
And then on tremulous wing came back to me.
I thought of questions that have no reply,
And would have turned to toss the grass to dry; 20
But he turned first, and led my eye to look
At a tall tuft of flowers beside a brook,
A leaping tongue of bloom the scythe had spared
Beside a reedy brook the scythe had bared.
I left my place to know them by their name, 25
Finding them butterfly weed when I came.
The mower in the dew had loved them thus,
By leaving them to flourish, not for us,
Nor yet to draw one thought of ours to him.
But from sheer morning gladness at the brim. 30
The butterfly and I had lit upon,
Nevertheless, a message from the dawn,
That made me hear the wakening birds around,
And hear his long scythe whispering to the ground,
And feel a spirit kindred to my own; 35
So that henceforth I worked no more alone;
But glad with him, I worked as with his aid,
And weary, sought at noon with him the shade;
And dreaming, as it were, held brotherly speech
With one whose thought I had not hoped to reach. 40
‘Men work together,’ I told him from the heart,
‘Whether they work together or apart.’
Type: The Tuft of Flowers is a narrative poem as it has one narrator (character) and a second character who is imagined by the narrator. The poem is longer than most poems (42 lines) and it contains a setting, conflict, climax and conclusion.
Setting: New England; a farmer's field
Inciting Incident: The speaker goes to turn the grass in his field that has just been mowed (not by a lawn mower, but by a scythe--how would you like to mow a lawn with a blade attached to a stick?).
Rising Action: Just after the narrator concludes that he will always work alone, a "bewildered" butterfly comes by and catches his attention, the path of the butterfly leads him to a tuft of flowers that the mower did not cut; the narrator appreciated the beauty of these flowers, and through the butterfly's flight, discovers that he and the "mystery mower" share an appreciation of the flowers' beauty.
Climax: The poem reaches it's turning point or highest point of tension in this group of lines when the narrator feels connected to the mower. Even though the mower has already left and is probably mowing other fields, the narrator realizes that he and the mower have shared a psychological and spiritual connection through the flowers they both found so beautiful.
Falling Action: The speaker now imagines that he is at work with the mower, and the idea that the two have a spiritual connection helps the narrator in his work. He no longer feels alone.
Resolution: The narrator, who feels alone at the beginning of the poem, now reverses his earlier thoughts and imagines that he has a conversation with the mower. He feels a connection to other people, which is created through an appreciation of nature's beauty. This idea that we are never alone, and that nature's beauty can bring like-minded people together--even if they are not physically present, creates the theme of the poem.
Conflict: The narrator feels that he is alone, not just as he works, but in his life; this bothers him although he does not admit it.
Imagery: The images in red all reflect the narrator's attitude that he is alone. The images in purple illustrate the shift in tone, when the narrator discovers fellowship and makes a connection to another individual. The tone then shifts to an attitude of hope.
The "dew was gone" and he sees a "leveled scene" at the beginning of the poem, which suggests a dry, desert-like wasteland. A place where nothing grows and there is no friendship or fellowship to be found. These images continue with whetstone on the breeze, ’wildered butterfly, flight go round and round, flower lay withering on the ground, and tremulous wing. These images all suggests bewilderment, being lost (going "round and round") and death (the withering flower). All these images help support the initial tone of the narrator that he feels alone and bewildered in his work and life.
The tall tuft of flowers, and leaping tongue of bloom illustrate movement and life. The fact that the tongues of bloom are "leaping" creates a connotation of joy. This is one of the first active verbs we see in the poem. Auditory images such as hear[ing] the wakening birds around, and hear[ing] his long scythe whispering to the ground reflect the narrator's new found hope. It's as if he has never heard these sounds before now. The narrator is reborn and finds life and beauty in his setting.
Rhyme: The poem is divided into two line rhyming stanzas. When two consecutive lines of poetry rhyme, we call them couplets.
Alliteration: Note how after the narrator shifts from his tone of dejection and bewilderment (loneliness) to one of hope, Frost begins to use alliteration. The repetition of the "b's" creates an explosive sound, which reinforces the sudden awareness of nature's beauty that the narrator sees in the tuft of flowers left by the mower.