Frost, Robert. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening".
Summary and Analysis
(from American Literature II Lectures)
The speaker opens the poem with observation that he probably knows who the owner of the woods he is stopping by is. His house is however in the town, so that he would not see him stopping by his woods and watch the falling snow. Already the very first stanza seems to establish some of the tensions between man and nature. Though a part of nature, the forest belongs to a man.
The second stanza might be seen as a foreshadowing of the conclusion. That is the sceptical view of the incompatibility of man and nature, in this case of man's natural desires and man's promises and duties. The speaker says that his horse must think it queer to stop by the woods with obviously no errand to be made here. The horse shakes its bell as if to confirm his thoughts.
A contrast between the darkest evening of the year together with the darkness of the woods and between the whiteness of the snow is established. The woods is still and calm. There is no noise except for wind, when suddenly the horse gives its bells a shake and interrupts the silence. The speaker realizes that despite the loveliness of the woods, he has promises to keep and no time to stay and watch the snow: "But I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep."
AuthorFrost, Robert. (1874 - 1963).
Full Title"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening".
First PublishedIn: New Hampshire. 1923.
Frost, Robert. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". (1923). In: The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym et al. NY: Norton, 1989.
American Literature II Lectures.