On the first reading of From the Frontier of Writing I got the impression that the speaker was writing of an event that he experienced in life, much like attempting to drive through a quarantined highway. On the surface, I can see how one could get that impression. However, upon deeper reading, and by putting more thought into the title of the poem, From the Frontier of Writing, the poem seems to be more about this constant struggle that writers experience when battling the censors of their work. I think the speaker does a wonderful job portraying the process that writers go through in order to get their work published.
In the first stanza, the “troops” in this case represent the first, surface editors of a writer’s work. They glance over the work, looking for faults. The second stanza illustrates more troops “on a hill beyond” which could most definitely represent a chief editor/publisher who would most certainly evaluate an author’s work on a more personal level. Also, in the fifth and sixth stanzas, the speaker alludes to a “sergeant…waiting for the squawk of clearance” seemingly the final obstacle between author and his published work. Finally, the poem ends with a sense of freedom, unrestricted from the previous barriers. I particularly enjoy how the last stanza encompasses this freedom:
“past armour-plated vehicles, out between
the posted soldiers flowing and receding
like tree shadows into the polished windscreens.”
I think the significant word in this stanza is windscreens. In many ways, the writing process goes through “windscreens” whether they be self-editing, or censors of another kind.