Sonnet Essay: “Range-Finding”
Robert Frost is a well-known poet in America, expressing his philosophy through his works. Frost has strong opinions regarding major issues such as war and nature. He addresses these two themes in a poem entitled “Range-Finding”, written in 1916 during the time of World War One. Frost conveys his beliefs through this sonnet’s generic considerations as well as the form, meter, rhyme scheme, figures of speech, and structure. Through its generic considerations and various elements of prosody, “Range-Finding” depicts the character of war and its far-reaching effects on its surroundings, specifically nature.
Range-finding is a technique still used by the military today whereby attempts are made to fire large weapons accurately over long distances. It is a process of trial and error in which unintended areas are hit by test rounds. Eventually the various adjustments will hopefully result in an accurate shot which hits the intended target. Frost chooses such a title to call to the attention of his audience the fact that war is anything but perfect, involving many corrections and mistakes. The errors in war have serious consequences found even on the most minute levels of life.
The "bare upland pasture"("Range", 9), otherwise known as "no man"tms land", is Frost"tms subtle way of communicating that man is not a part of nature. This deliberate insertion of predictable and tight rhymes enhances the absurdity of a war. Another method in which the meaning of the poem is conveyed is through its rhyme scheme and meter. The only results of a war are casualties and a period of chaos and confusion to many innocent victims. A second example of such a disturbance is the word "fluttering"("Range", 8). The second line describes how a bullet "cuts a flower beside a groundbird"tms nest"("Range", 2). It is the only place in the entire poem where a caesura is found and calls attention to spider"tms discovery and the reaction to it. The diction surrounding this action is revealing of how Frost perceives nature. In the first line of the poem the battle "rents"("Range", 1), or rips, a cobweb. The anticipation the reader has is that the poem will be relatively shallow and lighthearted. Frost anthropomorphizes the spider as it runs out to "greet"("Range", 13) the fly but, upon finding nothing, "sullenly"("Range", 14) withdraws. A spider does not greet flies nor does it feel a silent resentment after finding nothing in its web. The final and most compelling evidence of such a disruption is ""tmtwixt"("Range", 10). This poem is similar to that of children"tms rhymes in its structure, rhyme scheme, and meter, but contradicts itself by describing a violent battle. The expectations that come with such a form are not met as Frost describes man"tms intrusion into nature and the damage done from his meaningless violence.