Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Jan 30, 2009
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“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” like many of Frost's poems, explores the theme of the individual caught between nature and civilization.

Robert Frost Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Criticism

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

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.

-Robert Frost 

When I first read this poem, it seemed too simple.  A man and his horse are passing through woods and stop to look around.  No one is around.  He still has miles to go so shouldn't stay.  However, after reading it a few times, I realized that there could be a deeper meaning, and there probably is. Maybe it's about life and how we have so many obligations and responsibilities and sometimes we should just look around to notice little things, like nature.  Robert Frost writes many poems about nature and I think this poem may be a dilemma of whether to stay in peace or move on with life.  By the end of the poem, we don't really know whether the speaker leaves or not.  Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't.  

Some conclude that the speaker chooses, by the end of the poem, to resist the temptations of nature and return to the world of men. Others, however, argue that the speaker's repetition of the last line “And miles to go before I sleep,” suggests an indecisiveness as to whether or not he will, in fact, “keep” the “promises” by which he is obligated to return to society.

Robert Frost Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Criticism 

After researching what other critics said about the poem, there were similiar analyzes. Some took the poem as a dilemma between life and death. The speaker could stay die in the "lovely, dark, and deep" snow in the woods or resist their attraction and continue on his way.  Either way, the poem leaves you lingering on the question of whether he (or she) stayed or not. 
The theme of "Stopping by Woods"--despite Frost's disclaimer--is the temptation of death, even suicide, symbolized by the woods that are filling up with snow on the darkest evening of the year. The speaker is powerfully drawn to these woods

On "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"

s on a Snowy Evening



Isn't plain?

WPereira's picture
Submitted by WPereira on Sat, 2009-01-31 21:28.

I think its plain too. Is it not just some guy passing through a forest. I dont know maybe it means more. I think will do the same research as well. Just to see what other people think. This is interesting.