قصيدة للشاعر الكبير روبرت فروست وهي مبنية على قصة حقيقية
The buzz-saw snarled and rattled in the yard
And made dust and dropped stove-length sticks of wood,
Sweet-scented stuff when the breeze drew across it.
And from there those that lifted eyes could count
Five mountain ranges one behind the other
Under the sunset far into Vermont.
And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled,
As it ran light, or had to bear a load.
And nothing happened: day was all but done.
Call it a day, I wish they might have said
To please the boy by giving him the half hour
That a boy counts so much when saved from work.
His sister stood beside them in her apron
To tell them “Supper.” At the word, the saw,
As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,
Leaped out at the boy’s hand, or seemed to leap—
He must have given the hand. However it was,
Neither refused the meeting. But the hand!
The boy’s first outcry was a rueful laugh,
As he swung toward them holding up the hand
Half in appeal, but half as if to keep
The life from spilling. Then the boy saw all—
Since he was old enough to know, big boy
Doing a man’s work, though a child at heart—
He saw all spoiled. “Don’t let him cut my hand off—
The doctor, when he comes. Don’t let him, sister!”
So. But the hand was gone already.
The doctor put him in the dark of ether.
He lay and puffed his lips out with his breath.
And then—the watcher at his pulse took fright.
No one believed. They listened at his heart.
Little—less—nothing!—and that ended it.
No more to build on there. And they, since they
Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs
Nearly all first-time readers of Robert Frost’s“Out, Out –“ will recognize an allusion to Shakespeare’s Macbeth in the poem’s title. The quotation marks surrounding the title, as well as the dash after the second repetition of “Out,” are a dead giveaway (pun regrettably intended).
No passage in English literature, except perhaps Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy, is as famous as the 12 lines uttered by Macbeth on hearing of his wife’s death. The repeated command is directed to “brief candle,” an apt symbol of human life. The brevity of life makes man’s struggles and aspirations meaningless. Macbeth in the numbness of profound grief expounds that emotion with understatement infinitely more poignant than weeping, wailing and rage. Frost’s two-word title for his 34-line poem about the accidental death of an ordinary Vermont boy imports all of the drama of Shakespeare’s tragedy of a heroic Scottish tyrant faced with the realization that life is “a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,/ Signifying nothing.”
Frost’s poem begins with vivid imagery of sound, sight and smell. The onomatopoeia of line one: “The buzz saw snarled and rattled in the yard” is redoubled in line seven: “And the saw snarled and rattled, snarled and rattled.” The verbs give the power tool animalistic life. “Snarled” evokes angry dogs, wolves, and other quadruped beasts. “Rattled” imports the sound of a snake giving warning that it is about to strike with venomous fangs. Both words resonate with sound and fury. We picture the falling sawdust, the stove-length sticks, the five mountain ranges and a Vermont sunset. Images of smell come with “Sweet-scented stuff” wafted by a breeze.
The workaday ordinariness of the scene is reinforced by the empty understatement of line nine. “And nothing happened: day was all but done.” Line ten commences with the trite imperative for cessation of labor, “Call it a day.” Then the speaker asserts himself with the regretful comment, “I wish they might have said.”
A boy is doing man’s work, operating a power saw. Boys, being boys, appreciate release from labor even more than mature elders. The poet/speaker subtly foreshadows coming fatality with his verb selection in “saved from work.” It is not only young males who are pressed into labor in this rural Vermont household. The central character’s apron-wearing sister comes “to tell them ‘Supper’.”
All hear her announcement. The saw, earlier invested (not quite personified) with bestial animation, leaps
at its evening meal. To diffuse that fanciful notion, the speaker adds, “or seemed to leap-/He must have given the hand.” Another commonplace expression is tinged with cruel irony. To give one’s hand suggests a greeting or friendly handshake. “Neither refused the meeting,” but don’t get friendly with a spinning saw blade.
The irony continues as the boy’s first utterance is “a rueful laugh.” He holds up the hand “as if to keep/ The life from spilling.” (Textbooks commonly quote the latter phrase as an example of metonymy: a figure of speech in which something closely related life is used for what is actually meant – blood.)
It was all a nasty accident. The boy would lose his hand. But more tragically unexplainable is that while under the doctor’s anesthesia, the boy dies apparently of shock. None of those in attendance can believe it. Like Lady Macbeth, he “should have died hereafter./ There would have been a time for such a word.” It makes no sense for it to happen now. It is a death signifying nothing.
Frost seems flippant in his concluding lines. “No more to build on there.” At first the phrase seems a wry and callous reference to jobs of construction in which power saws are important. But perhaps the speaker is referring to the life, which is snuffed like an extinguished candle: the boy’s heartbeat or pulse that faded “Little less nothing.” Nothing can be built on nothing.
. . . . And they, since they/ Were not the one dead, turned to their affairs.
Certainly there was sorrow, mourning and a tearful funeral, but none of that pertains to the poet’s message. The living have lives to lead, things to build on. Macbeth also turned to his pressing affairs, heroically affirming his selfhood, knowing full well there was nothing to build on, acting his part in “a tale told by an idiot.”