Two Tramps in Mud Time by Robert Frost

Two Tramps in Mud Time summary and Critical analysis for BA Semester 3 of BBMKU and VBU University. Two Tramps in Mud Time Notes are prepared for the final examinations.

Two Tramps in Mud Time

Out of the mud two strangers came
And caught me splitting wood in the yard,
And one of them put me off my aim
By hailing cheerily "Hit them hard!"
I knew pretty well why he had dropped behind
And let the other go on a way.
I knew pretty well what he had in mind:
He wanted to take my job for pay.

Good blocks of oak it was I split,
As large around as the chopping block;
And every piece I squarely hit
Fell splinterless as a cloven rock.
The blows that a life of self-control
Spares to strike for the common good,
That day, giving a loose my soul,
I spent on the unimportant wood.

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.

A bluebird comes tenderly up to alight
And turns to the wind to unruffle a plume,
His song so pitched as not to excite
A single flower as yet to bloom.
It is snowing a flake; and he half knew
Winter was only playing possum.
Except in color he isn't blue,
But he wouldn't advise a thing to blossom.

The water for which we may have to look
In summertime with a witching wand,
In every wheelrut's now a brook,
In every print of a hoof a pond.
Be glad of water, but don't forget
The lurking frost in the earth beneath
That will steal forth after the sun is set
And show on the water its crystal teeth.

The time when most I loved my task
The two must make me love it more
By coming with what they came to ask.
You'd think I never had felt before
The weight of an ax-head poised aloft,
The grip of earth on outspread feet,
The life of muscles rocking soft
And smooth and moist in vernal heat.

Out of the wood two hulking tramps
(From sleeping God knows where last night,
But not long since in the lumber camps).
They thought all chopping was theirs of right.
Men of the woods and lumberjacks,
They judged me by their appropriate tool.
Except as a fellow handled an ax
They had no way of knowing a fool.

Nothing on either side was said.
They knew they had but to stay their stay

And all their logic would fill my head:
As that I had no right to play
With what was another man's work for gain.
My right might be love but theirs was need.
And where the two exist in twain
Theirs was the better right--agreed.

But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.

Two Tramps In Mud Time Summary

Two Tramps in Mud Time is a poem crowded with suggestively so far as its theme goes, but the poet has poised it by selecting a simple form that the reader can understand easily. The poem is in the first person, and the poet himself is the crucial point of all thought and action. The poem’s soul is the conflict between two opinions – the opinions of the poet and those held by the tramps.

While the poet was splitting wood, two strangers appeared to come out of the mud, approached him, and one of them asked the poet to hit very hard.

The poet analyzed the tramp as meaning that he should work for his livelihood. The poet leads a restrained and self-controlled life to present skill and power in work. The poet intersperses his comments on nature’s sudden pranks and manners throughout the poem. The poet loved his work amidst nature. The two tramps made the poet feel he had no right to do something for his pleasure, especially the work that could be a source of livelihood for another person. Such a person should be given precedence. The poet finally decides he should try and unite his avocation and vocation.

Two Tramps In Mud Time Critical Analyze

Two Tramps In Mud Time was published by the ‘Saturday Review of Literature’ on October 6, 1934, and in A Further Range, 1936. This poem, which is Robert Frost’s most distinctive, speaks highly about manual labor and the dignity it entails. Two unidentified people come out from the mud to see the poet cutting wood in his yard. One of these persons cheered the poet for his hard work, saying, ‘Hit them hard!’. The poet knew very well what he had in his mind. He wanted to take the poet’s work of splitting the wood to earn money. The poet had split good pieces of a tree, as large as the wooden piece he was chopping. The poet thinks he should have made more proper use of this valuable time. But he spent that particular day being given over to pursuing his pleasure-giving hobby that caused his losing soul, doing the little work of splitting the wood.

Neither the tramps nor the poet spoke any word. The tramps knew they had but to stay there, fixing an eye on the poet and hoping that all their foolish argument would fill his head and move him. As if the poet didn’t have any claim to wood chopping. That was another man’s right. The poet is aware that his claim is due to his hobby or pleasure and theirs due to the necessity to earn. The tramps have a stronger claim to the work than the poets if the two interests conflict. These are the parts of love and work that will be sacrificed. The poet, at least, isn’t. He aims to unite his task and hobby as his two eyes make one in sight. Only where love and necessity are united in one, and the work is a game for human beings, there is the work ever really done for Heaven and the betterment of the future.

This is Frost’s last autobiographical poem, where he probes his personality and tells the reader about his activities. The initial action in Two Tramps in Mud Time represents the poet as engaged in the ritualistic routine of splitting firewood in his farmyard and enjoying the play of such work until he is embarrassed by the passing presence of two expert loggers. Their mocking comment suggests that they need, and could better perform, the work he is doing. The poet is aware that if his motive is more love than need and their motive is more need than love, he should relinquish the task to them for pay.

In splitting wood, a man may find a physical and emotional pleasure similar to the one Frost describes in this poem. True to the Nature of the theme, the poem’s movement is lyrical and reflective. In the poem, Frost indulges in a series of descriptions of Nature and her moods as though she is siding with him in his pleasant task of wood-chopping. The tramps want the poet to relinquish his task to them for pay because “My right be love, but there was a need.” Frost also agrees out of sympathy for the wood-cutters.

The poem enriches the dignity of work. The poet had been a farmer, so the spirit and love of hard work are mirrored in Two Tramps in Mud Time. Stanzas 3, 4 and 5 are testimony to his deep love of the world of Nature. The poem testifies to his being a poet of personal experience and sentiment. He is willing to sacrifice his pursuit in favor of the needy tramps.

In form, its nine stanzas show a logical flow of reactions. The first stanza helps to understand the three unities of time, place and action. The second stanza is involved with self-justification. The third, fourth and fifth stanzas boost New America’s seasonal climate vagaries. The sixth stanza represents the chopper’s ecstasy. The seventh stanza shifts the point of view from the interrupted chopper to the upraising loggers. The eighth stanza points to the situation of the man who chops for love and the needy wayfarers who eye him in their extremity. The ninth stanza fuses the coordination of love and need and reconciles the tension, which is psychological as well as economical.

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