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Stopping by the Woods On A Snowy Evening, Commentary

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Introduction

STOPPING BY THE WOOD ON A SNOWY EVENING This poem was composed by Robert frost in 1922. It is narrative in style and consists of four stanzas, each stanza having four lines. Each verse is constructed in the iambic tetrameter, with eight syllables - one stressed and one unstressed syllable, alternately. As the title suggests, the poem features a journey through the woods. Frost is said to have composed this after a long night of work on another poem, 'New Hampshire'. In the morning, when he stepped out of his cottage, it is said that he was so taken in by the scenic beauty of his surroundings that he was inspired to compose this poem there and then. Critics have marveled at the beauty of the poem, it required little thought and came to Frost in short bursts of revelation. He composed it in a matter of a few minutes. Though the language or diction used by Frost is simple, it suggests at an altogether deeper meaning. Frost's philosophy on life is reflected in this poem. The poem commences with an easy note and gives rise to wisdom later along. ...read more.

Middle

In this stanza, Frosts' tone becomes matter-of-fact, and it is ironic that the persona who is just a passerby while the same appreciation cannot be sensed on the owners part. The last line of this stanza, 'to watch his woods fill up with snow' has visual imagery. It conveys a sense of distance from civilization. The 'snow' signifies purity, an innate quality of nature. The second stanza deals with the persona halting in mid-journey. This brings on a reaction from his horse. The horse symbolizes a trained and habituated mind, stopping abruptly through the woods had brought a shadow of doubt, the horses' sense of direction was at play. 'Without a farmhouse near' conveys a picture of the persona's earlier doings, due to force of habit the persona had always sought shelter in an enclosed space like that of a 'farmhouse'. But now it seemed that he had simply stopped in a patch of clearing just to enjoy watching the sight of the woods. Lines 7 to 8: 'Between the woods and frozen lake The darkest evening of the year', convey the particular time period when the persona records his halt in the woods. ...read more.

Conclusion

He knows that he can't allow himself the luxury of exploring the mysterious depths of the woods and stray away from his goals. The last two lines are direct repetitions of each other, 'sleep' can connote two different meanings. The first mention of 'sleep' can refer to rest and relaxation, while the latter can also refer to the 'sleep' of death. This meaningfully signifies that he has many things left to do and that he can't afford to be held back by the penetrating beauty of the woods no matter how tempting they get. This firm denial brings him back to reality and he recollects everything. This poem alludes to another one of Frost's poems, 'The Road Not Taken' where Frost places the persona in a similar situation where the persona is forced to make a choice between two paths. One of the paths is lush, green and very welcoming but he takes the one 'less travelled by'. His mental struggles can be seen in both of these poems. This poem also bears a similar moral message as that of 'The Lotos-Eaters' by Tennyson, in which the soldiers decide between their chance at bliss and their responsibilities and aims in life. ...read more.

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