Darkness and evil

1. In Robert Frost’s poem, “Design”, there is a distinct separation in the poem between the octet and sestet. This break in the poem seems to serve as a transition in Frost’s thoughts about what he is seeing. In the octet, Frost describes the spider and heal-all which he seems to observe as nothing more than coincidental, but interesting nonetheless. The sestet gives the poem a darker feel, as Frost contemplates what the spider and the moth in a different sense.

Frost uses the white moth as representative of innocence and purity, and compares the wings of the heal-all to that of satin. Frost compares the spider to evil, by closing the poem with “What but design of darkness to appall? ” In a sense, Frost makes this simplistic poem into a complex investigation of whether there is a God. The rhyme scheme in “Design” is interesting in that the last word of each line invokes images of either purity and innocence or darkness and evil.

For example, some of these words are: white, right, blight, night, and appall. These words all have strong imagery tied to them. This ties into the theme of the poem, which is innocence versus evil. 2. Frost’s poem, “In White” is very different from his revised version, “Design”. In the octet alone, Frost made many changes to the wording used in his poem. In the first line, Frost changed his reference to the spider from “dented” and “snow drop white” to “dimpled” and “fat and white”.

Frost changed the way that the reader envisions the spider by deleting the “snow drop white”, which gives the sense of purity to the spider. Frost also edits the moth’s description from “lifeless” to “rigid”. He also changes the following line from “Saw ever curious eye so strange a sight? ” to “Assorted characters of death and blight”. This adds to the dark feel of the poem by inserting the word rigid, and including the words “death” and “blight”. These words give a sense of darkness and hopelessness to the moth’s predicament.

In the final line of the octet, Frost refers to the moth as “dead wings” rather than “moth”, which also adds to the darkness of the poem. In the sestet, Frost also makes several changes to the words in his poem. Frost changes the wording of the second line from “The blue prunella every child’s delight” to “The wayside blue and innocent heal-all” which adds to the already evident sense of purity and innocence of the heal-all. This increases the reader’s sympathy for the moth, as well. The final three lines of the poem are entirely different from each other.

The original version reads, “Make we no thesis of the miller’s plight. What but design of darkness and of night? Design, design! Do I use the word aright? ” whereas the revised poem reads, “ Then steered the white moth thither in the night? What but design of darkness to appall? If design govern a thing to small. ” The change in these lines makes Frost’s point much more clear. The revised version of the poem allows the reader to understand that Frost is questioning the existence of good and evil and divine control of nature.