Poem to Consider: The Silken Tent

She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To every thing on earth the compass round,
And only by one’s going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightlest bondage made aware

— Robert Frost via PoemHunter


2 thoughts on “Poem to Consider: The Silken Tent

    • First, it’s a sonnet. That doesn’t have anything to do with the meaning, of course, but it is good to remember what a modern master of formal poetry Frost was.

      As for the meaning, I think that it’s a metaphor comparing a woman to a “silken tent” that appears to be “loosely bound,” but is in fact in “bondage,” tied down with “love and thought.” Who the woman is, I can’t say, but wives and mothers are certainly hindered by obligations relating to love and thought.

      This poem paints a picture of a strong woman (“its pinnacle signifies the sureness of the soul”) who need not necessarily be tethered (“strictly held be none”) but who chooses to be so out of love. It’s as though the author both admires the woman, and pities her.

      Perhaps this is a social comment on the plight of women, who are essentially punished with obligations (bound “to every thing on earth”) when they try to conform to the roles that society demands of them.

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