Stopping by woods on a snowy evening: Summary and analysis

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  • Post last modified:October 29, 2018

Summary and Analysis of Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

 

Frost wrote ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snow Evening’ in 1922. It is difficult to know if there is any symbolical meaning in the poem. At the surface, it is quite simple as if the poet is recounting the beauty of the woods he stopped by for a small while. Nature frequently finds mention in the poems of Robert Frost and this poem again is about nature and its beauty. In this sense it symbolizes a break from daily business into the lap of nature. Perhaps, Frost was trying to remind his readers that nature’s beauty is inescapable and they must seek to visit it whenever possible. The poem also seems a bit mysterious and its settings create profound suspense. A horse, a rider, an evening and snow – the picture looks like a suspenseful movie. There is still remarkable clarity in these lines which paint  a very clear picture of a beautiful cold evening. Reading the poem is  quite a lot like staring at a portrait of nature.

 

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.

 

The poet is out on his horse for some important job and gets to stop by the woods for some time.  He thinks he knows the owner of these woods who lives in the village. The poet is enjoying his moment in solitude where the owner cannot see him immersed in the beauty of his snow clad woods. The unequaled beauty of the magnificent scene has captivated the poet and he has stopped for some time to immerse himself in its beauty.

 

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.

 

It is quite an odd place to stop by and the poet wonders what his horse must be thinking. Why his master has stopped by at such an odd looking place? There is no farmhouse close by and the evening is the darkest of the year. Why he has held the poor creature near the woods and before a frozen lake? The poem is also a means of connecting with the nature. The horse is the poet’s partner in the journey and the dumb animal cannot speak but the poet can feel its emotions.

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 puzzled horse does not get any response from his master. Perhaps he is afraid or worried and shakes his harness bell in an attempt to hurry his master. The night will grow darker. In that evening any other sound that the poet can hear is only that of the wind and the falling snow flakes. Frost has captured the beauty of the nature in these lines artistically and the entire poem seems a beautiful portrait of nature. Imagine a calm evening with snowflakes falling while you stand by the woods. It pleases the nerves and clears any confusion and stress.   The solitude and the peace of the settings are the main attraction of the poem.

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.

 

These woods are so lovely even if they are dark and deep that the poet cannot resist the pleasure of watching them. He wishes to stay longer at the place but cannot. He and his horse have to go miles before they can sleep. So, he will go on, but getting such a magnificent view of nature is a matchless experience in itself. He will be reminded of the scene again and again. The poem is best known for its simplicity and to find any hidden symbolical meaning in it is not possible. It still signifies the poet’s desire to break away from busy life and seek an escape somewhere closer to nature. Several poets have tried to capture nature’s beauty in their words but Frost’s poem deserves appreciation for the exquisite and original portrait of nature it presents.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stopping_by_Woods_on_a_Snowy_Evening

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.