“Revelation” Robert Frost

We make ourselves a place apart
Behind light words that tease and flout,
But oh, the agitated heart
Till someone find us really out.

‘Tis pity if the case require
(Or so we say) that in the end
We speak the literal to inspire
The understanding of a friend.

But so with all, from babes that play
At hide-and-seek to God afar,
So all who hide too well away
Must speak and tell us where they are

I just discovered this poem, but it has now supplanted “Fire and Ice” to become my favorite poem of all time. Looking at it for the literal, syntactical characteristics alone, the poem is beautiful. The simple rhyming pattern is pleasant and satisfying. The enjambment is fairly graceful throughout the stanzas, and, in addition, the overall flow of the work is smooth but natural. It flows a bit like the water in a creek would. The rhyming provides just enough emphasis to draw the reader’s attention and make them think, but in a way that is subtle.

However, I do not love this poem only for its syntactical structures and rhetorical devices, but for its meaning. In beginning research for the poetry project, I have noticed that many of Robert Frost’s poems are centered around human nature. Our instincts, interactions, thoughts, and existence. The majority of them, in this regard, are quite lengthy. “Revelation” is not. It is simple and short, but proves to be incredibly succinct and profound. It captures such a vast and permeating piece of human tendency, our habit of putting on a brave face. All of us have intimate experience with painting on smiles and putting on acts. We all, at some point or another, live behind stained-glass masquerades. Frost acknowledges our likeliness to create these facades, but, in addition, he iterates the inevitability, and, particularly, the necessity, that they come down. Paint chips, props break, glass shatters. But he also makes a clear distinction in how that happens, that those in hiding “must speak and tell us where they are” (Frost, 12). The masquerade is going to come down; we don’t have to be alone when it does. I admire this poem so much because it encourages the breakdown of that glass. Even the title itself defines the breaking point, something we usually think of as weakness or defeat or falling short, as something beautiful and hopeful. I am a perfectionist, but more and more I am discovering that perfection is not beauty; scars and shaky strength and raw imperfection are. Revelation is so fitting in that it characterizes that moment for what it really is: not something that is shameful, inferior, or reproachful, not desolation. But something radiant that reveals the ultimate truth: none of us is alone.

One thought on “Revelation

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  1. I love your own epiphany that “more and more I am discovering that perfection is not beauty; scars and shaky strength and raw imperfection are.” What a beautiful analysis by a beautiful thinker.


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