A Question, Robert Frost: Summary & Analysis

In "A Question" by Robert Frost, the poet presents a contemplation on the human experience and the existential question of whether the struggles and challenges of life are worth the gift of existence. Through concise and thought-provoking verses, Frost explores the concept of the human condition and the complex relationship between suffering and the value of life.

A Question by Robert Frost

A voice said, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth,
If all the soul-and-body scars
Were not too much to pay for birth.

Critical Analysis

"A Question" encapsulates a profound inquiry into the nature of human existence. The poem revolves around a voice asking humanity to gaze at the stars and reflect upon whether the physical and emotional scars borne throughout life are outweighed by the gift of being born into the world. The contemplation touches upon themes of suffering, purpose, and the inherent worth of life.

The poem's brevity and simplicity contribute to its potency. The voice's question calls for introspection and invites readers to grapple with the complex balance between the pain and struggles experienced in life and the inherent value and beauty of existence.

Frost employs cosmic imagery by urging the audience to "Look me in the stars," suggesting a connection between human contemplation and the vastness of the universe. This cosmic perspective underscores the enormity of the question being posed.

"A Question" leaves readers with an open-ended contemplation, challenging them to ponder the trade-offs between suffering and the inherent value of life. The poem does not provide a definitive answer, leaving room for individual interpretation and reflection.

Themes of the Poem

  • Human Existence: The poem delves into the fundamental questions of human existence, prompting readers to consider the significance and worth of life despite the challenges and scars it entails.
  • Suffering and Worth: The poem explores the concept of whether the hardships and scars that come with life are justifiably compensated by the experience of being alive.
  • Existential Inquiry: The poem engages in an existential inquiry about the purpose and value of human existence, emphasizing the depth of the question being posed.

Stylistic Analysis

  • Rhetorical Question: The poem's central question is rhetorical, inviting readers to contemplate its implications rather than providing a direct answer.
  • Metaphorical Language: The phrase "Look me in the stars" employs metaphorical language, urging readers to consider the question within the grand scope of the universe.


  • Contemplation and Reflection: The poem's tone is contemplative, encouraging readers to reflect on the profound question presented.


  • Concise Language: The brevity of the poem's lines and language adds to its impact, focusing the reader's attention on the central question.
  • Imagery: The use of cosmic imagery, such as looking at the stars, enhances the depth and significance of the question.

Sound Devices

  • Rhythm and Rhyme: The poem follows a consistent rhythm and rhyme scheme, contributing to its rhythmic flow and inviting contemplation.

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