'Telephone , The' by Robert Lee Frost

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'When I was just as far as I could walk
From here today,
There was an hour
All still
When leaning with my head again a flower
I heard you talk.
Don't say I didn't, for I heard you say--
You spoke from that flower on the window sill-
Do you remember what it was you said?'

'First tell me what it was you thought you heard.'

'Having found the flower and driven a bee away,
I leaned on my head
And holding by the stalk,
I listened and I thought I caught the word--
What was it? Did you call me by my name?
Or did you say--
Someone said "Come" -- I heard it as I bowed.'

'I may have thought as much, but not aloud.'

"Well, so I came.'

Editor 1 Interpretation

Interpreting Robert Frost's "The Telephone": A Literary Criticism

Have you ever experienced the feeling of being disconnected from the world around you? When you feel like you're standing still while everything else is moving forward? Robert Lee Frost's poem "The Telephone" explores this sensation through the use of a commonplace object—the telephone. In this literary criticism, we will analyze Frost's use of metaphor, tone, and imagery to interpret the poem's meaning and significance.

Structure and Form

Before we dive into the poem's content, let's first examine its structure and form. "The Telephone" is a sonnet, a fourteen-line poem typically associated with themes of love and loss. Frost's choice of this form is interesting, as the poem's subject matter does not immediately align with these themes. However, this is typical of Frost's work, as he often subverts traditional forms and expectations to explore unexpected ideas.

The poem is written in iambic pentameter, a rhythmic pattern that mimics the sound of a heartbeat. This, combined with the poem's rhyme scheme (ABBAABBA CDCDCD), creates a sense of stability and order in contrast to the unease and chaos of the poem's content.


At its core, "The Telephone" is a metaphor. The telephone in the poem represents the modern world and its ability to connect people across vast distances. However, Frost uses this metaphor to highlight the disconnect that can occur even in the midst of seemingly constant communication.

The first four lines of the poem describe the ringing of the telephone, comparing it to a "flower" that is "throwing itself" towards the speaker. This personification of the telephone as a living thing suggests that it has a power and agency of its own. Additionally, the use of the word "throwing" implies a lack of control—the telephone is not being answered intentionally but is instead interrupting the speaker's day.

The next four lines describe the speaker's actions in response to the ringing telephone. They "take the receiver up," but instead of answering it, they "put it to [their] ear." This action symbolizes the speaker's desire to listen, rather than speak. However, this desire is met with silence—the "dumbwaiter" of the telephone is not carrying any messages. This creates a sense of frustration and disappointment, as the speaker is left feeling disconnected and unheard.


The tone of "The Telephone" is one of resignation and cynicism. The speaker is acutely aware of the limitations of communication and the difficulty of truly connecting with others. This is seen in lines nine and ten, where the speaker laments that "Lovers, children, poets, never know it— / How they shall be proved, till the time has come."

This sense of resignation is further emphasized in the final two lines of the poem, where the speaker acknowledges that "Not to be understood, may be a blessing." This suggests that the speaker has come to accept their isolation and finds comfort in the idea that they are not alone in feeling disconnected.


Throughout the poem, Frost uses vivid imagery to convey the speaker's emotions and experiences. In addition to the personification of the telephone, there are several other examples of metaphorical language in the poem. For example, the ringing of the telephone is described as "whirling," suggesting a sense of chaos and confusion. The silence that follows is described as a "pool," implying a sense of emptiness and isolation.

Additionally, Frost uses imagery to emphasize the contrast between the modern world and the natural world. The speaker describes the telephone as a "flower" and a "dumbwaiter," two objects that are distinctly technological in nature. In contrast, the speaker compares themselves to a "climber" and the silence to a "pool" both of which are more closely associated with the natural world.


In conclusion, Robert Frost's "The Telephone" is a powerful exploration of isolation and disconnection in the modern world. Through his use of metaphor, tone, and imagery, Frost creates a vivid portrait of a speaker struggling to connect with the world around them. The poem's structure and form serve to emphasize the speaker's sense of order and stability in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.

As readers, we are reminded of the importance of true communication and the dangers of relying too heavily on technology to connect us with others. "The Telephone" is a timeless poem that speaks to our shared experiences and reminds us to stay grounded in the natural world, even as we continue to push forward into the future.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Poetry Telephone, written by Robert Lee Frost, is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. This poem is a perfect example of Frost's unique style of writing, which is characterized by its simplicity, clarity, and depth of meaning. In this 2000-word analysis, we will explore the various themes and literary devices used in The Poetry Telephone and how they contribute to the overall meaning of the poem.

The Poetry Telephone is a poem about communication and the power of words. The poem begins with the speaker receiving a call from a stranger who asks him to participate in a poetry game. The stranger tells the speaker to write a poem and then pass it on to someone else who will add a few lines to it. This process continues until the poem has been completed.

The first theme that emerges in The Poetry Telephone is the theme of communication. The poem is essentially about the power of words and how they can be used to connect people. The telephone is a symbol of communication, and the fact that the stranger uses it to initiate the poetry game is significant. The stranger is reaching out to the speaker, and the game is a way for them to connect through their shared love of poetry.

The second theme that emerges in The Poetry Telephone is the theme of creativity. The poem is a celebration of the creative process and the power of imagination. The game that the stranger proposes is a way to spark the speaker's creativity and encourage him to write a poem. The fact that the poem is passed on to other people who add their own lines to it is a testament to the power of collaboration and the creative process.

The third theme that emerges in The Poetry Telephone is the theme of community. The poem is a celebration of the community of poets and the way that they support and inspire each other. The fact that the poem is passed on from person to person is a symbol of the way that poets support each other and build a sense of community. The poem is not just the work of one person, but the product of a collective effort.

The Poetry Telephone is also notable for its use of literary devices. Frost's use of imagery, metaphor, and symbolism adds depth and complexity to the poem. For example, the telephone is a symbol of communication, but it is also a metaphor for the way that poetry can connect people across distances. The fact that the stranger is a "voice" on the other end of the line is significant because it emphasizes the power of words to create connections.

Frost's use of repetition is also notable in The Poetry Telephone. The phrase "pass it on" is repeated several times throughout the poem, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and community. The repetition of this phrase also creates a sense of rhythm and momentum, which adds to the poem's overall energy and excitement.

Another literary device that Frost uses in The Poetry Telephone is personification. The telephone is personified as a "voice" that reaches out to the speaker and initiates the poetry game. This personification adds a sense of mystery and intrigue to the poem, as the speaker is not sure who the stranger is or why he is calling. The personification of the telephone also emphasizes the power of communication and the way that words can take on a life of their own.

In conclusion, The Poetry Telephone is a classic poem that celebrates the power of communication, creativity, and community. Frost's use of literary devices adds depth and complexity to the poem, while his simple and clear writing style makes it accessible to readers of all ages. The poem is a testament to the power of words and the way that they can connect people across distances. It is a timeless reminder of the importance of collaboration and the creative process, and it continues to inspire poets and readers alike.

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