A Drumlin Woodchuck

Robert Frost’s poem A Drumlin Woodchuck is very symmetrical in its style; the poem has 8 stanzas with 4 lines per stanza that are divvied into rhyming couplets. The rhythm scheme is tri-meter.

One thing has a shelving bank,
Another a rotting plank,
To give it cozier skies
And make up for its lack of size.

In the first stanza above Frost is describing this area though a woodchuck’s eyes as to where it has decided to make its home. From the title of the poem we know it’s a drumlin – oval-shaped hill formed of glacial drift. I find the first couplet in this stanza to contrast with the second. From the woodchucks point of view the wood that is scattered around ‘makes up for its lack of size’ and gives it ‘cozier skies.’ I also feel there is a connection to how Humans construct their homes.

My own strategic retreat
Is where two rocks almost meet,
And still more secure and snug,
A two-door burrow I dug.

In the second stanza we find the need for safety, security and comfort manifest in the way burrow is dug. A place where ‘two rocks almost meet’ and between those rocks ‘a two-door burrow’ is dug.

With those in mind at my back
I can sit forth exposed to attack
As one who shrewdly pretends
That he and the world are friends.

The third stanza points out that this is not only about a woodchuck protecting itself, but perhaps more about how humans behave in exploiting the world. I also think Frost is pointing out that no one can be friends with the world, the tension set in the first couplet suggest the world and everything in it are in a violent struggle of wills.

All we who prefer to live
Have a little whistle we give,
And flash, at the least alarm
We dive down under the farm.

In the fourth stanza is a simple explication that those who like to live a long life will do so in caution. That when the first sign of alarm one should quickly hide undercover.

We allow some time for guile
And don’t come out for a while
Either to eat or drink,
We take occasion to think.

In the fifth stanza we have an explanation as to what one does while he is hiding form the dangers. One doesn’t come out right away nor do they eat or drink, just waiting and thinking. It reminds me of little children playing hide and seek.

And if after the hunt goes past
And the double-barreled blast
(Like war and pestilence
And the loss of common sense),

This is another stanza I find has a broader meaning that just a mere woodchuck thinking about survival. I believe Frost is pointing out that ‘the hunt’, ‘war’ and ‘pestilence’ and merely a loss of ‘common sense’. This mostly applies merely to humans, for war seems to be a human invention.

If I can with confidence say
That still for another day,
Or even another year,
I will be there for you, my dear,

In this stanza Frost seems to change the direction of the poem entirely with two simple words, ‘my dear’. He seems to be talking to his significant other in this stanza and in-fact it goes hand in hand with the last stanza.

It will be because, though small
As measured against All,
I have been so instinctively thorough
About my crevice and burrow.

In this stanza Frost says that he will be here for his ‘dear’ because he with great care built his home.

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