Minimizing 'I' in Service of 'You' - Iota Subscript by Robert Frost


Seek not in me the big I capital, 
Nor yet the little dotted in me seek. 
If I have in me any I at all, 
‘Tis the iota subscript of the Greek. 

So small am I as an attention beggar. 
The letter you will find me subscript to  
Is neither alpha, eta, nor omega, 
But upsilon which is the Greek for you. 

 - Robert Frost 

In the poem "Iota Subscript" by Robert Frost, the speaker adopts a stance of humility and self-effacement. Throughout the poem, the speaker strives to diminish the prominence of their own ego, symbolized by the letter "I," whether capitalized or lowercase. Instead, the speaker is content with assuming the role of a mere "subscript" to the ubiquitous you. 

In a world where self-centeredness often takes precedence, where "me" comes before "you," and personal interests overshadow acts of service, the speaker of this poem dares to defy the norm by prioritizing the "you." This mindset of genuine other-focused consideration is a rarity in the contemporary world, a concept so foreign that Robert Frost employs the metaphor of the Greek language to underscore its exceptional nature. By using Greek in his poem, Frost suggests that this mode of thinking, characterized by its emphasis on others, is akin to something unfamiliar or exotic, almost as if it were a linguistic or philosophical outlier in a society largely preoccupied with self-interest.

This "you" can also be the reader. The notion of being a "subscript to you" encapsulates the speaker's willingness to subsume their identity for the sake of the reader's experience. It highlights the poet's belief that poetry is a shared endeavor, with the reader playing a pivotal role in extracting meaning and relevance from the verses. By embracing the role of a subscript, the speaker invites the reader to become an active participant in the poem's interpretation, underlining the collaborative and interactive nature of poetry. In doing so, Frost not only underscores the idea of humility but also emphasizes the importance of connection and engagement between the poet and the audience, where the reader's perspective is of equal significance.

It takes setting aside I.   
It takes getting subdued in You. 
Be more interested than interesting.   
Be smitten in the dark by morning due 

Speak as sweet as strawberry cakes 
Shiv, that is what love takes 



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