(14) Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening [By Robert Frost]


Poem Instructions: Find two journey poems by well-known authors and write a paragraph analysis of each.


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (Poem)

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.


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (Poem Analysis)

The speaker is traveling by the woods with a horse on a snowy evening when he pauses briefly in his journey to take in his beautiful surroundings. In near-silence, he admires the lovely scenery around him. Although he is tempted to linger longer, he acknowledges the pull of responsibility and the fair distance that he has yet to travel before he can fully stop and rest for the night.

The woods symbolize something that is attractive, dark, mysterious, soothing, and seductive. For readers, it is wide open for interpretation. The woods could represent some attitude or behavior that is alluring and exciting (perhaps even a death wish), but one that society disapproves of or regards as dangerous. The horse’s uncertainty symbolizes society’s reproach and wariness to the “woods.” The horse could also represent the speaker’s conscience. The harness bells on the horse could represent the speaker’s work ethic urging him to push on and to keep going. Even though the speaker is evidently attracted to and is drawn in by the “woods”, he is wary of falling too deep under its spell. As the snowflakes fall from above, they cover everything that they touch like a huge blanket. If the speaker rests too long while the snow falls, he could lose his way, lose the path, and eventually even freeze and die. Instead, the speaker is sensible enough to only stop briefly in order to enjoy the “woods” and to take a break from the journey of life, but then recognizes that he must continue on with his journey. Even though the alluring spell of the “woods” tries to draw him in and make him forget about the worries of life and his responsibilities, the speaker knows that he must go on and keep moving forward. There are still duties and tasks that he must attend to in his life before he can finally stop and rest.

The tone of the poem is wonder, hopeful, and soothing. Another message or theme that one could take away from this poem is that the journey is the reward. We shouldn’t get too caught up with the goal (reaching our destination) that we forget to take breaks and to enjoy the journey (little things along the way).

The poem consists of four stanzas, each line written in the form of iambic tetrameter. The first, second, and fourth line of each stanza rhymes. Although the third line does not rhyme with the other lines in its stanza, it sets the rhyme for the first, second, and fourth lines of the next stanza. The meter shows progress and could possibly represent the trotting of the horse along the trail on the journey. The fourth stanza is an exception to this arrangement as all four lines in the stanza rhyme with each other.


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (Teacher Comment)

Mr. Nollan: (Analysis: 5/5) You’ve given way more analysis on the poems than necessary.


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