The Silken Tent Robert Frost Analysis | Line by Line

Analysis of the Poem The Silken Tent by Robert Frost

“The Silken Tent” is a very vivid and self explanatory poem that Robert Frost wrote when his love influenced his life as obvious from deep analysis of his autobiography. A reader must first understand a little about the poet, his brief history as well as the circumstances under which he wrote this poem.

Introduction to the Poet

In this poem, the poet talks about the love of his life. It is not wrong to say that he refers to his wife and praises her. He never exaggerates the physical beauty of women, instead he talks about their attributes that helps him at every occasion.

Title Analysis the poem “The Silken Tent” by Robert Frost

“Silken Tent” in the poem under discussion means a woman, as mentioned supra. The poet starts the poem with the word “she” that means the metaphor is directly indicating a woman and the poet expresses his feelings about her. It is a metaphor used to indicate love of the poet’s life. Obviously, he is talking about his wife. Nonetheless, as the poet also reveals his philosophy in more or less every poem; therefore, in this poem it may be the case that he is talking about every common woman. Perhaps, he wants to simplify the status of women in society.

She is as in a field a silken tent

In the very start of the poem, the poet creates a picture of a silken tent and makes it obvious that he is not going to talk about the tent, rather it is the word “she” that needs the attention of readers. He mentions that the woman of his life is like a “silken tent”. He uses silken because it is always compatible with all skin types. Dense fabric structure of silken prevents dust and mites from accumulating. Further, softness is another quality of silken material/fabric. These are the reasons he uses a silken tent instead of any other.

If we ignore apparent meanings and do in depth analysis of the poem “The Silken Tent” then it reveals that Robert Frost finds all the fabric qualities in a woman. He means that like silken, every woman is soft, protects man, secures his life from difficulties and worries and also she prevents dust (hurdles) to come into the life of a man. Hence, from the very first line of the poem the poet clears his readers that he is going to discuss some common traits of women in general. 

We have not yet discussed the word Tent. Why does the poet use the word tent for a woman? It is because a tent is a shelter in an open field. A woman/wife in a man’s life provides him shelter from the wicked world (open field). The poet elaborates further in the next line in which he clears that from which thing a woman provides shelter to a man.

At midday when the sunny summer breeze

The word “midday” is highly symbolic. The poet says that a woman makes the life of a person beautiful in his middle age (35 to 60). In general, at the age of 30 if a person finds the woman of his life then in middle ages he feels pleasure from her company. Symbolically, Robert Frost has used “sunny summer breeze” in “The Silken Tent” as a symbol, analysis of which is cleared in the very next line. 

Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,

Breeze dries the dew soon after the sun rises in the summer season. Perhaps, the poet wants to patent that a woman enters in the life of man when his life becomes dull. Just like the summer breeze dries the dew from the grass; however, it is also possible that the poet is talking about general duties of a woman as he used the word “breeze”, instead of air. Word breeze is used in literature mostly for the purpose of expressing positive feelings. Symbolic analysis of this word means that Robert Frost talks about duties of women which are to provide shelter to a person from hard and dustfull life. 

A reader can never approach the real meaning of a “The Silken Tent” without doing analysis of symbolic meanings that Robert Frost has used. In this poem too, the poet has used every word in a symbolic sense. “Ropes relent” means that a person abandons his severe and harsh attitude when he talks to the woman whom he loves. After a long boring day, full of worries in modern life, a person meets his wife and he feels himself relaxed. 

So that in guys it gently sways at ease,

And its supporting central cedar pole,

Hardwood “cedar pole” is used to support tents. It is also the case with life. Symbolic analysis of “central cedar pole” in the poem “The Silken Tent” means that a man supports his woman and in return gets rid of anxieties, disturbances and worries as the same “gently sways at ease” with the help of woman love as happened in the life of “Robert Frost”. It also means that every couple is not just bound to his duties, rather they are free to swing with the air gently. Meaning thereby that everyone is free to adjust himself with the circumstances.

That is its pinnacle to heavenward

The poet reveals the quality of being strong of “central cedar pole”. It not only supports the life partner but also boosts her morale and helps her to think high and out of context. These lines are a very beautiful representation of life. The poet also gives wisdom to his readers so that they are able to overcome every problem with the help of a strong bond of love.

And signifies the sureness of the soul,

Robert Frost does in depth analysis of the central pole in his poem “The Silken Tent”. “Sureness” means freedom from doubts. It seems that the poet finds himself relaxed due to the unending love of his life. In this line, we find an additional meaning of “central pole”, which is an indication of female support in one’s life. 

Seems to owe naught to any single cord,

This line is the elaboration of a relationship. No relationship can make a person bound. Although ethically there are some duties yet every relationship must be full of freedom. In a relationship, both the persons are linked like a “single cord”, which is a moral, spiritual and emotional bond; however, the same still holds freedom. He crystal clears his thoughts while saying that But strictly held by none, is loosely bound”. No one is strictly held by anything. It is a loose bond between the two and the same is full of liberty. 

By countless silken ties of love and thought

A soft relationship means to hold each other despite the shortcomings. Being a human, no one is perfect; therefore, there are reasons to sacrifice. A woman simultaneously deals with more than one relation. She has to strengthen her connection with other relatives too. The poet wants to make it clear that there are “countless silken ties” that a woman holds at the same time and every bond is full of love and thought. 

This line of the poem “The Silken Tent” by Robert Frost is in depth analysis of women’s duties. Undoubtedly, the poet wants to elaborate that a man constructs a house whereas a woman makes it home. No home should be called a home without a woman as she gives a person unending support and love. 

To every thing on earth the compass round,

And only by one’s going slightly taut

The poet shortens his arguments. Life revolves around a woman. In general terms if we talk, it is always said that a man’s life in actual meanings starts when he finds love. He earns for his wife and children. Thus, we must agree with the poet that “To every thing on earth the compass round”. He at the end summarizes that the disturbance of a relationship, which a woman holds, slightly makes the situation tighter for her; therefore, she has to deal every relation with care. Undeniably, analysis of these lines reveals that Robert Frost talks about sensitivity of a woman’s duties in his poem “The Silken Tent”. 

In the capriciousness of summer air

Is of the slightest bondage made aware.

Nonetheless, life is unpredictable. Anything can happen at any time. The poet concludes the poem with the word “capriciousness”, which is the most important word of the poem and means that hard times are there in life. No one can underestimate them but the important thing is to hold a relationship in spite of all these bad happenings. Even in bad times, one should respect his beloved. In the middle of the poem, the poet talks about duties of a woman in life. Even after a lot of duties, every woman tries to hold the situation and does not let it get worse. 

It seems that Robert Frost has already done analysis of life, hence, he gives wisdom in his poem “The Silken Tent”. As the poem is about the beloved of the poet, hence, he portrays a message that a woman may not give a person love every time even then he should love her unconditionally. Instead of showing anger once should handle the situation wisely. No doubt, it “is of the slightest bondage made aware” 

Style and Literary Devices Analysis of the Poem “The Silken Tent” by Robert Frost

The poem contains fourteen lines and has a rhythm. “The Silken Tent” is a sonnet, analysis of which transpires that Robert Frost followed a pattern of: abab, cdcd, efef, gg.

Metaphors: The poet has used a lot of metaphors in the poem including “silken tent”, “central cedar pole”, “cord”, “compass”, “summer air” etc.

Imagery: “open field”, “tent”, “sunny summer”, “central cedar pole” etc.”

Alliteration: “central cedar”, “ropes relent” etc. 

Enjambment: she for “tent”, summer air for “capricious” etc.