Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Summary Analysis

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Summary Analysis Questions Answers 

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” one of Robert Frost’s most well known poems, was published in his collection called New Hampshire in 1923. The poem illustrates the feelings of the poet who stopped his horse in order to gaze into the woods. 

Poem Text: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening 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 dwony 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.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Summary stanza wise:

◇ Lines 1 – 4:

In this opening stanza, the setting is clarified as a winter evening in a rural environment. The speaker desires to watch snow fall quietly in woods. While these woods belong to someone, that person is not present and so will not protest if the speaker trespasses.

◇ Lines 5 – 8:

The speaker emphasizes that he has no practical reason to stop, that he is stopping for the beauty of the scene only. However, in line 8, an element of darkness appears which can indicate that all is not well. Because the speaker also emphasizes the cold with “frozen lake”, readers begin to understand that the poem may not be a simple light-hearted celebration of nature.

◇ Lines 9 – 12:

Although this stanza begins with no auditory image, the shaking of the harness bells, the greater emphasis of the stanza is on silence. Although the speaker can hear the “easy wind”, such a sound is gentle, nearly as silent as the falling of the snow. The slight alliteration in line 11, “sound’s the sweep”, mimics the sound of the wind.

◇ Lines 13 – 14:

In this stanza, the speaker emphasizes his attraction to the unknown and perhaps the dangerous. He is tempted to go farther into the woods which are “lovely” but are also “dark and deep”. He cannot, however, lose himself in these woods because he has obligations to fulfill. Here, his life in a social community, conflicts somewhat with his desire for communion with nature. 

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◇ Lines 15 – 16:

The repetition of this line as the conclusion to the poem indicates that the idea contained in it is highly significant. Although the speaker may literally have “miles to go”, the line also functions as a metaphor. He has much life to live before he can “sleep” permanently in a “dark and deep” woods. These lines suggest that although death may at time be more attractive than life to the speaker, he is nevertheless determined to choose life. The tone of the lines, however, may also indicate that the speaker is resigned to life but not necessarily enthusiastic about it.

Themes of poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening:

• Natural Beauty:

This poem presents nature as a standard of beauty that is so strong that it captures the speaker’s attention and makes him halt in midst of woods. There are not many descriptive words used to convey what it is that the speaker finds so beautiful, only “lovely”, “dark” and “deep”. Of these “lovely” simply describes the whole scenario of the setting of the place.

The darkness of the woods is an idea so important that it is mentioned twice in this poem, emphasizing a connection between beauty and mystery. The emphasis on darkness is strange and more obvious because the poem takes place on a snowy evening. The only other indication of beauty this speaker experiences is the silence of nature – “the sweep/Of easy wind and downy flake.”

Of course, wind can be heard, but an “easy” wind would just barely be perceptible; there is nothing audible about snowflakes unless they are hard and frozen, not “downy” like soft feathers. The source of nature’s beauty lies in its mystery, not in its familiarity. 

• Return to Nature:

With sadness, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” examines just how difficult it has become in the modern time for man to stay in touch with nature. The speaker is enchanted with the things of nature, halts for a moment. But after a few minutes of giving in to the enchantment, decides with regret that this return to nature cannot last long. It is the the speaker who is able to temporarily put aside the idea of hurriness, destination and to appreciate the moment.

Thus, the poem shows the nature with its soothing effect on human world; though it is temporary but puts the message that human must realize the importance of being oneness with nature. 

• Duty and Responsibility:

The speaker of this poem has promises to keep. So the enchantment created by nature on does not last long. Obviously, the scene in the wood is important to the speaker who is practically mesmerized by the scenic beauty of the snowy evening in woods. The people often found break promises by giving excuses.

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The speaker of this poem loves the snowfall’s beauty enough to be distracted by it, but even more than that he or she values keeping a promise. The repetition of the final two lines gives us an indication of how this speaker feels about the responsibilities that lie ahead. Unenthusiastic about obligations but enthusiastic about the snowfall, the speaker nevertheless lives up to the promises that were made. 

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Critical Analysis:

The poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is one of the most remarkable poems of Robert Frost who even called the poem his “best bid for remembrance”. ” Stooping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is the poem for which Robert Frost won one of four Pulitzer Prizes. 

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” describes a moment in the evening when a person drove through the woods and stopped for a moment in the woods to look the beauty of the snowfall. His horse shook the harness bells which might give the indication that “There must be some mistake”. After stopping for a moment, the person decided to move on as he or she must keep some promises. 

It is not known who the person is, nor whether male or female. Neither is it known from where or to where the person is going, nor why, and the promises the driver must keep also go unexplained. Finally, no clue is supplied as to where this scene takes place. The mere situation of stopping and looking at woods cannot be all there in the poem.

The first stanza sets a rather mischievous tone for the poem. First worried that the owner of the woods, might see him stopping, the person feels gratified the owner lives in village. But just when the person has established his pleasure at being safe from the owner of the woods, the second stanza establishes the horse’s discomfort. It is not the woods that bothers the horse so much, the person thinks, as the absence of a farmhouse. The third stanza intensifies the solitude of the scene through the attention to sound: the only sounds being the momentary shake of harness bells, and the ongoing “easy wind” and softly falling snow.

Thus the poem may simultaneously pull the reader by the increasing mystery or quiet of the natural scene. However, the person resolves to go and leave behind this at least somewhat alluring forest, which is described as “lovely, dark and deep”. The poem remarkably presents a complex mix of attraction and fear. The reason for leaving the woods the driver offers are those very unspecific ” promises to keep” and “miles to go”.

In the end it may seem that the poem has an unsatisfactory ending but how unsatisfactory as it may seem, these woods can neither be penetrated nor left behind; it is simply some aspect of nature must stay in heart for ever and ever. 

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