Stopping By Woods on A Snowy Evening, Robert Frost – an Analysis

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Title
Aww, conjuring up lovely images of winter.

Gut Reaction
I miss winter.
And bizarrely I now want a horse… A perplexed-looking thing that looks enquiringly up at me as if to say ‘how did you get there?’.
Well that’s a bit odd…
Moving on..

What does it all mean?
A journey home through a picturesque scene, a pause, a remembrance of obligations ahead.

Now you see… If you want to get properly analytical…. You read All Kinds Of Things into this poem.

He’s stalking a potential/secret/former lover (on horseback? Takes all sorts.) and is hiding so he won’t be found whilst he watches his house (I’m imagining some kind of secluded shack in the middle of the woods. I have an overdeveloped sense of imagination.). Weirdo. The horse is a bit miffed at the pause, stood there in the nippy dark, chunters away, the way horses do. His impatience reminds his owner that he’s wanted elsewhere: Work? Wife and kids? Other lover? And yet, already very sleepy, he’s wishing he was in the bed in the house in the village behind him and not out here in the cold.

See? Anything.

Today is a four cups of coffee kind of day. And I’ve not partaken at all yet. Oh dear…

Anyway!

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 writer is on his way somewhere, feels like it could be home, but it is miles off yet. He’s paused to take a breath and is admiring the scenery about him. He knows the owner of the woods so is sure that he isn’t going to get into bother.

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.   

The writer knows it’s an odd place to stop, and he can feel his horse knows it’s odd too.

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 horse is saying (in his horsey way) ‘uh…now then, why’re we stopping? There’s nowt ‘ere worth stopping for.’
All is quiet and peaceful under the fall of snow.

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.

He’s enjoying his view but knows he has to keep moving as he has commitments up ahead.

Form – the vaguely technical stuff
Division and order
Four stanzas of four lines, brief pause in a long journey.

Tone
A little…wistful? Contemplative?

Suggested rhyme scheme
aaba
ccdc
eefe
ffff

End stopped and run on lines with masculine rhyme and use of assonance and alliteration.

Similes and metaphors
Um. None? Very simply worded poem with great impact.
Although if you want to get into it, ‘darkest evening of the year’? Hmm. Winter solstice? Or in my odd little scenario…night after the final day of this illicit little fling? (I’m sorry Mr Frost. It has been a trying week. I apologise for sullying your beautiful poem and will now leave it alone!)

Author’s relationship with their subject
Hmm. Well, he’s kind of talking to himself here so…. Can a man not just enjoy his scenery without it being read into??? 😀

Other points of view (ideas from other sources)
The last, repeated line, ‘And miles to go before I sleep’ has alluded to the possibility of the author falling asleep and therefore dying of hypothermia! Nooo!!! Leave him be!

Signing off
Now. I have a slightly weird… Confession? No, not really a confession. More like… Well. I ‘hear’ in a Yorkshire accent which is likely not the strangest thing about me but it is up there on the list. If only my actual accent wasn’t so…undecided. However. There is a point to this, kind of. The horse in this poem. Not only do I picture him having a Yorkshire accent (naturally), I hear it done by the lovely Ross Noble. Who is in fact a Geordie. Bear with me! He does this routine where there’s a chimpanzee operating the voice box on Stephen Hawking’s chair and he’s found the ‘Yorkshire button’. It is a beautiful, beautiful thing in your life. Find it. That is the accent I picture my horse having.
Back to the subject at hand…
I love this poem 🙂 makes me feel like the cosiest of winters snuggled up on a sofa with an oversized mug of coffee, a good book, and a great friend for company. You know the kind. The ones who see you at your darkest and are still there, happy to sit and say nothing with you as you both disappear in your books.
Well. I am miles, months, and many degrees of centigrade from such a scenario currently, so I can empathise totally with the wistfulness of ‘and miles to go before I sleep’ ending.

Links

Robert Frost

Grade Saver

When I read this I think of the song… Every Day Is Exactly The Same

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