Robert Frost: Poems

Desert Places and Depression

In “Desert Places,” Robert Frost describes the snowfall upon a field as darkness falls in passing. By first impression, it seems to be a simplistic idealist image of nature. However, beneath the surface of the snow, Frost breathes darker undertones into this pastoral place. The dark undertones give away to feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, suffocation, and loneliness, all common symptoms of depression. “Desert Places” uses its wintry landscape’s elements as parallels to the symptoms and effects of mental depression.

Just as depression can quickly loom upon a person, the night comes upon the speaker admiring the field. The “night fall[s] fast, oh, fast” upon the speaker. The “oh” and the repetition of “fast” create a sense of hopelessness and uncontrollability of the situation. A common symptom of depression is hopelessness, and the fact that the speaker has no control over the night’s fall or the snowfall relates to this. “The loneliness includes [the speaker] unawares,” showing how little control the speaker has over the situation. They are unable to stop the loneliness from covering them like the night and snow cover the field. The speaker states “the ground [is] almost covered smooth in snow,” and that the “animals are...

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