Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost – An Analysis

winter_woods_woman

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
– BY ROBERT FROST

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Form and Structure
Four almost identical paragraphs with the same rhyme scheme – abaa. Last paragraph is different than the above three – repetition of last line. Each line is iambic with four stressed syllables.

Meaning

Para 1

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

Is the speaker trespassing it ? Clearly yes.
Where is the owner of the woods? Back in the village.
– While lands were owned by people, I wonder if it was common to say – he is the owner of those woods. Maybe this is before a time woods became public property. Still, to use the natural term – woods, instead of property or lands, I think seems to be starting point of the conflict addressed throughout poem – beauty versus duty, nature versus man, society versus self.

The speaker is trespassing in another man’s “woods” but all he wants to do is watch this part of the forest fill up with snow. And he is aware that the owner of this natural cover owns a house in the village ( see the commentary there and the irony – you own nature and yet stay away from the beauty, yet choose to stay amidst civilization), so he will not be caught while breaking man’s laws, though what he wishes do is just to watch nature in its glory.

Para 2

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

His little horse represents society or that part of mankind which rarely dwells on the aesthetic aspect of life and is more concerned about things with some kind of return value determined by collective conventional norms and wisdom. Therefore, to stop at a beautiful spot just to take in the view makes little sense to the horse who would rather stop at a farmhouse so that they could rest, fed and re-fill for their journey ahead. ( Davis’ lines come to my mind – what is life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare). Queerer still it is to the horse, to the rational mind, to the civilized world that the speaker would choose the darkest evening ( this could a be literal implication on the evening being dark thus they should find a place to rest, or it could be subtle commentary on taking a break to enjoy oneself when things around are bleak).

Para 3

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The horse, by now I am sure, stands for society and duty because even when you want to chill, it hardly lets you rest, always prodding – what’s wrong, why aren’t you working, why are you doing this, so you like doing this, what for, what will you get out of this? So the horse is like – hey dude, what’s wrong, why are we stopping here, what’s in it for us, while the speaker, our dreamer can, along with the faint call of duty, also hear the sound of the wind and see the snow flakes.

Para 4

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

The iambic form of this paragraph renders it hauntingly beautiful. Don’t you just love the way it sounds?

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

But we are digressing here, beautiful though this paragraph is, I am meant to write about its meaning. But, hey, haven’t I already?

<Smiles> I really hope some of you saw what I pulled there.

Another interpretation of the above lines ( apart from the obvious, see what I did above again ) is that Frost was perhaps referring to himself, hinting that a lot more of poetry was still to come out him.

Oh a fun fact, Frost apparently wrote the above poem in one single sitting on one winter’s night.

P.S. – I hope you like the picture I have chosen for this post. Quite serendipitous, I must admit, to come across a photo which captures the essence of this entire exercise – me on the scene of that snowy evening when Frost crossed the woods.


Author’s Noteif you mean o use any of my above analysis, do remember to quote me. 

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Author: pecsbowen

reader.philosopher.writer

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