Jan 5, 2012

Robert Frost's "Out, Out--" and Macbeth's Soliloquy

And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.

‘Out, Out—’ by Robert Frost : The Poetry Foundation

Frost's title is an allusion to Macbeth's famous speech upon the occasion of the death of Lady Macbeth:
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28


Anonymous said...

Your poetry selections are usually seasonally appropriate. Is this intentional?

Banjo52 said...

Especially recently, that's true, but I don't plan to stick rigidly to it.

RuneE said...

Combining text and photos brings the words "Swan of Avon" to my mind. I suspect that was intentional too :-)

PS Thank you for the comments! Yes, architects of hospitals seem to do their best to scare their patients back into health :-)

somewords said...

A favorite poem. What the saw saw. The spilling that made the heart stop really made it start.

Ken Mac said...

I know so little of Shakespeare, but what an incredible selection that is. "sound and fury and signifying nothing." Not the feel good hit of the summer eh...

Banjo52 said...

Ken, and hospital builders of Norway, you've got to remember that feeling good is shallow. Somewords, love the word play.

Kitty said...

We had to memorize that Shakespeare quote in English class.

My question though is why does the tale signify nothing? It must at least signify itself? Or is this a way of saying how futile it is to rage against one's inescapable fate?

Banjo52 said...

Kitty, it's one of Shakespeare's most famous. I think your final question is getting close to Shakespeare's and Macbeth's thinking. Macbeth knows his ill-gotten crown won't last much longer, and now his wife's killed herself. Because his life seems a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing, he projects that all life is like that. I guess he figures we'd all kill a king in his sleep, a king who'd been good to us, and we'd all ooze poetry rather than stop killing more innocents in order to cover up.

One of these days I'm going to read some psychoanalytic criticism on Macbeth. In spite of his murders, he seems at times to have a conscience, seems beset by guilt, unlike his cold wife. Then again, even she goes through some ritual hand washing toward the end ("a little water clears us of this deed"). Her madness and suicide? Does she hate herself for her deeds, or does she just see her ill-gotten gains coming to an end?

Brenda's Arizona said...

Wow, Robert Frost's is SAD. The child! Did he even have time to be a child???? He is the brief candle. I never thought of Lady Mac's speech as such. I guess the passage was mere words we were told/pushed to memorize, but we were never taught the meaning.

Frost has ruined my day. Shakespeare has opened my eyes. And you continue to be an awesome teacher, Banjomyn.

somewords said...

Would you do the ice skating poem with Icarus, as a matched sock for Frost?

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