Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost


As a preamble, Frost is known for his flawless depiction of mastery in poetry and in particular those that use nature are an imagery or metaphor, or even describing nature as it is. He has displayed good skill and experience in use of nature to symbolize human emotions as was in his poem "The Road Not Taken" among other widely discusses and analyzed poems within the literature realm.

There is a significant interaction between nature and man within the poem which surpasses the physical interaction to the psychological realm that enables a deeper understanding of the persona's obsession with the nature described in the poem.

Paper outline

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost

Thesis: There is a significant interaction between nature and man within the poem which surpasses the physical interaction to the psychological realm that enables a deeper understanding of the persona's obsession with the nature described in the poem.

I. Preamble

a. Introduces the poet as a master of metaphor in poetry.

b. His use of nature in his poems briefly discussed.

c. Thesis

II. Summary

a. Gives the use of simple language.

b. Describes the scenery in the entire poem and the cold weather and the calm experienced by the persona.

III. Structure and Form of the poem

a. Discusses the physical appearance of the poem

b. Evaluates the unique use of rhyme

IV. Commentary

a. Appraises the worth of the poem.

b. Discusses the use of imagery within the poem.

c. The symbolic meaning of the poem and the symbols used therein are discussed and what their meanings are.

d. Use of personification is highlighted and the effectiveness of this literary device.


"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" looks or passes for a simple poem from the surface reading, a characteristic that Frost has persistently portrayed in his poems throughout. Here, the persona is riding a horse in the woods and decides to stop at some point and observe the snow falling on the trees and the lake on his other side. It is a snowy evening and time seems to fly by not giving the persona enough time to take a breath and observe nature as long as he wanted to. The scenery is calm and near silence, with only whispering wing as it flies by the snow laden trees, it is a pleasing scene and the persona is tempted to stay much longer. However his wish cannot be granted by nature itself since it is evening and he has obligations and responsibilities ahead to handle as well as a long distance yet to be covered before it is utterly dark and go rest for the night.

Structure and Form of the poem

The poem has a conventional form with almost identical stanzas. They are four stanzas in total with an iambic structure with four stressed syllables on each line. Characteristically, it is seen that the first, the second and the fourth lines of each stanza have a rhyme. It is also worth noting that the in all the stanzas, the third line does not rhyme with the rest but instead Frost uses this to set the rhyme for the succeeding stanza. One instance and good example is noted in the third stanza, where the words queer, near, and year all rhyme, but lake does not, instead rhymes with shake, mistake, and flake which are in the following stanza. This pattern runs throughout the poem except in the final stanza where the third line takes up the rhyme with the previous two lines in the stanza as well as repeated in the fourth line. This could be due to the fact that the poem was coming to a close and there was no other stanza that was to be used to rhyme it with. Apparently the rhymes may look and sound simple to achieve, but in the literary realm it must have take Frost a lot of effort to achieve such kind of rhyme while still maintaining the message and content of the poem as well as conveying the intended message in a simple enough form.


The piece of poem from all perspectives remains to be a marvelous piece of art which can be read and read over again with stunning marvel of the rhyme and imagery used. There are splendid descriptions of nature and scenes that the persona is in touch with.

The poem describes the woods in the evening, with the depths that there is in the woods that eventually open up into the lake. The poem in the same manner invites the reader to dark depths of extensive interpretation of the poem and the outstanding imagery. At the surface it is a simple account of a man on a horse making a stop in the woods and stares into the woods as the snow falls but this attracts us as the readers to view deeper the meaning of the woods and the split attention between the woods and the frozen lake, an incidence that he terms as the "the darkest evening of the year." This was a state of confusion and deep thinking, not sure of which would be better to concentrate on, would it be the dark woods or the frozen lake that is worth the attention, he was torn between these two. There are inventory meanings of the two outstanding imageries used in the poem and many have associated them with varying meanings.

The poem has a characteristic straight forward message and content that one seems to think that it could mean exactly what is written, but again it comes out through the repetition noted in the last stanza that this could not be just a narration of a walk through the woods. When the third line of the last stanza is mentioned "And miles to go before I sleep" there seems to be nothing of concern or awakening to the reader about it, but when it is repeated just in the next line, there are eyebrows raised as to the meaning of the poem. Indeed when the persona indicates that he still has "miles to go," the reader is tempted to that think there is continuation in the life and process of the persona, but this is contradicted by the last two words of the poem, "I sleep" where there seems to be continuation anymore or no process ahead but a halt in sequence, activities frozen like the frozen lake.

There is a conflict that is highlighted in the poem, though in a subtle manner, it is not a physical conflict but a psychological one where the persona is split between spending more time in the attraction within the woods and the nature around him and a progress towards the responsibility that awaits him ahead. The woods, normally in poetry represent the darkness, wickedness or even madness within the society. However, the woods as used here are not directly representing or giving obvious signs of representing forces of darkness in any way, it is not overt. However, on a deeper look at the woods, there is some sense of it representing confusion since all the people, including the owner of the woods that the person knows and hopes is not looking at him are at home, no one is out there, except the persona on his horse, yet the woods seem too attractive to him to go home. Here therefore the woods represent forces of derailment or a distraction from the awaiting responsibilities ahead of the persona, even in the face of the fast fading day and a quickly approaching night. The woods come out strongly to represent irrationality that exists beyond the borders of the village or society.…

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