Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening By Robert Frost | Stanzas, Summary, Analysis, Themes, Literary Devices

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening Analysis Line by Line: Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening, a poem written by Robert frost in 1922 was published in New Hampshire in 1923. The set up of the poetry is that of a winter evening that experiences a solitary traveller’s dilemma, who, being in solitude and amidst nature, is enchanted by the charm and beauty of the same.

However, he is constantly distracted by the thought of his duty in the world that breaths its heavy breath on his shoulder and pulls him away from the woods, breaking its charm. Being raised around nature, this poem by Robert Frost is often said to have autobiographical elements.

Students can also check the English Summary to revise with them during exam preparation.

Summary of Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

The narrator of the poem has set out for completing his daily chores, and on his way to his pre-decided destination, his path crosses with a silent, desolate and snow-clad wood.

The poem begins with the narrator contemplating the woods’ owner and settling with him being somebody he knows, whose house is in the village. Then, he says that it won’t be practically feasible for the woods owner to see him stop by, to experience his woods, in such a snowy evening.

He was there to behold the woods get wrapped by the layers of snow. According to the narrator, it was the darkest evening of the season, and his horse was baffled to find his owner stop mid-way to their destination, with no farmhouse nearby, in an odd juncture between the frozen lake and the woods. The woods were very silent and calm. The very little sounds that were occurring were reaching the narrator clearly.

There were only the ring of bells from his horse’s harness, as it was trying to wake up its owner from the trance and ask if he was making some mistake by behaving the way that he was, apart from this, the only sound was that of the flowing wind and the raining snow.

The narrator praises the features of the woods, calls them by appealing adjectives and finally conjectures that he has to leave them, as he has made promises that he needs to fulfil and reiterate in the concluding couplets that he has to traverse a long path and complete many tasks before he sleeps his final sleep.

Summary Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Meaning of The Poem Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

There are an array of underlying connotations and meanings that we can extract out of the poem. This poem portrays the inevitability of human life’s duties and responsibilities and the circuit of events that are placed as concentric layers, one after the other.

Opposed to this, the poet shows how calm, serene and pacific nature is. The poet also highlights a predominant fact in the poem: how humankind is a doit before nature’s power. Through the narrator’s character, the poet displays how some of the most sensitive souls often get enthralled and enchanted by the immense and ethereal beauty of nature and surrenders to its peace.

By employing several metaphors, the poet delineates how even one’s personal conscience, accompanied by the consistent call of duty and responsibility, is responsible for separating humans from the peace and calm of nature. One such metaphor is the horse, and the horse is the symbol of duty and realty that rings the bell to wake up the narrator. There are several embedded references to the journey of life –

“And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep”

Here, miles of the journey of life is indicated, terminating at the final ‘sleep’. The poem begins at a point in time that falls in between a journey of the narrator – this journey is actually that of life. It is the celebration of peace in nature against the hullabaloo of human life.

Thereby, it talks about how the exhausted human souls pine for obliterating the thought of reality and merging with the solace that nature provides them. The narration, which tells how the narrator had stopped in between his course of work to observe snowing in the woods, hint that nature and its agents act as agents that intervene in the humans’ monotonous daily, provides some respite and disappears suddenly. In contrast, humans have to continue their cycle of life.

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening Poem Speaker

The speaker of the poem is a traveller who is drawn by the woods covered in winter snow and is shown to be occupied by conflicting thoughts of choosing to stay back in the lap of nature or go ahead with his pre-conceived obligations.

The poet does not give any name to the speaker of the poem, and this shows that he is trying to talk about the common man, and this poem can thereby, be treated as a microcosm of the wider world, and the speaker, the representative of the many other common men facing similar issues.

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening Analysis Symbols

There is many symbols or insignias employed by the poet in the course of the poem. ‘sleep’ over here is a symbol of death or eternal sleep, the horse here stands for human conscience and the reality, and the bell that it rings is the grim bite of reality that obstructs the trance of the narrator. The woods over here stands as the massive entity of nature, and the journey of the traveller refers to the journey of life.

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening Analysis Structure and Form

The poem is written in the Iambic tetrameter and abides by a regular flow in the rhyming characteristic of the form called the Rubaiyat stanza. The whole poem follows the AABA rhyme scheme.

Literary Devices Used in Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening Analysis

Some of the literary devices employed by the poet in the poem are,

Metaphor: The poet has used several metaphors along the length of the poem. ‘Sleep’ signifying death or eternal sleep or the final sleep, the journey of the traveller indicates towards the journey of life, the event of the horse’s movements causing the bells to rings and eventually the narrator’s calm to disrupt signifies the knock of reality on the door of conscience.

Imagery: The poet has crafted a synesthetic experience for the readers and aroused all the senses of threaders equally in the poem’s experience. The ‘easy wind’ touching the skin, the ringing of bells reaching the ears, the sight of the beautiful woods before the eyes and the smell of nature, all these agents have cumulatively worked to cause the effect. The poet has also illustrated the woods’ image and its calm very delicately so that the readers can see it all and sense it all intimately.

Personification: The horse over here has been personified and ascribed with humane traits. The woods, too, has been given a spirit of their own that also gives it the power to attract distressed travellers and distract them from the course of their lives.

Alliteration: The ‘sound’s the sleep’ is the usage of alliteration in the piece.

Euphony: The poet has studded some elements in the poem that causes auditory pleasure to the readers. The ease of the wind, the ‘downy flakes’ and the ring of bells are some of the examples that set the auditory sensations to act.

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening Themes

Some of the subdivisions of the many themes of the poem are,

Nature against Humans: The poem displays how nature is the superpower, and humans’ power stands at no place before that. Eventually, the humans subjugate to nature after being drained by their own constructs.

Personal Yearnings Against Social Responsibility: The narrator’s experience as narrated through the poem clearly elaborates how humans are compelled to let go of their individual to fit the social. The traveller’s internal want was to remain within the lap of nature. However, the socially ascribes responsibilities drove him away from him a recluse.

Indecisiveness, Doubt, Settlement And Decision: Since the poem’s commencement, we see how the speaker suffers from indecision about following his heart’s desire and abiding by his mind’s dictates. However, we also see how he settles with one end of the spectrum and makes a decision.

Significance of the Poem Title

“Stopping by woods in a snowy Evening” – the title encapsulates the entire journey that the poem offers for the readers. The poem is about a traveller who stops by the woods on a sudden evening when the woods were wrapped in snow.

Meaning of The Poem Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening Analysis, Stanza by Stanza

“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”

In stanza 1 of the poem, we are introduced to the traveller, who has stopped by random woods while on the way to his destination. He observed the woods and declared that although he is familiar with the owner of the woods, the owner will not be able to know that he had stopped by his woods to see the snow cover it- This declaration implies that he does not want anybody to know this because humans are not allowed to get distracted and digress from their singular tone of life. Therefore, he intends to see the woods fill up with snow, hiding from the rest of the world as well as his duties.

Stanza 2

“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”

In stanza 2, the narrator elucidates how his act of stopping in front of the woods has looked ‘queer’ to his horse because that is always only used to stop in front of farmhouses for business. However, this time, the narrator has broken the usual rule and stopped mid-way, in the way between the lake frozen in winter, and the woods. This implies that he recognizes the abnormality in his action – something that will be looked at with eyes of awe by not only his fellow harbingers of humanity but also his little horse.

“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 flakes”

Stanza 3

In stanza 3, the narrator describes the serenity of the woods, where there is practically no sound, apart from the easy flowing wind and the snow that is streaming down – this environment of the woods crafted by the poet creates the essence of the woods as relaxed, soft and calm. Opposed to this, the horse, which is symbolic of reality and duty, is characterized by restlessness, as it rings the bell of its harness, calling the narrator back to consciousness and disturbing the peace of nature.

“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”

Stanza 4

In stanza 4, the narrator delineates the beauty of the woods with adjectives like ‘lovely’. He also calls the dark of the woods intensified by the darkest evening of the season. However, at the concluding lines of the poem, the narrator reaches a decision, where he recognizes that he has made promises earlier that must be kept.

Therefore, he has miles to travel, fulfilling the many promises before he ‘sleep’ or breath his last with the termination of life and all obligations or death.

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening Analysis Historical Context

In 1923, when the piece was published, society saw a certain trend in society’s growth and evolution. Individuals were allowed the liberty to think their way, express their way and not subscribe to the pre-set traditions.

The ideologies of intellectuals, philosophers, and social activists such as Marx, Freud etcetera, did not remain restricted to just the elite class and erudite, but percolated to society’s various layers and were discussed everywhere.

Every sector of society followed this trend in society, so did the sector of literature. Several composers started several forms and revolutions of their own challenging traditionalism in writing and thinking in literature.

This trend of thoughts that arose after world war one was born out of the sense of alienation that the war had caused to the people, which gave them a wider and split view of human existence. These triggered a sense of distance between the people affected by war and the traditions that bound them to their society all the while.

This caused them to easefully sever all ties with the bound of tradition and liberate their individual ideas about the thing – this eventually gave birth to new philosophies that they expressed in their selective, personal ways. These humans who had abjected society and the human manifestations, ceded to nature, and enjoyed its company and introspected its ways – this led to the birth of multiple pieces of literature.

Another kind of alienation came from the industrialization, and the poets, thinkers and composers who came up from regions of agriculture and nature were pushed towards industrialized city life, something that they could not adjust – this often led them to retrospect the good times that they had spent in the lap of nature.

Personal Commentary

The poem is a voice for the many others who are victims of similar sorts of events. The traveller is a prototype of multiple others like him. All them, who are compelled to be a slave of industrialism and capitalism and are driven by the societal coercions of reaching the destination, often yearn for the glorious past that they had spent.

However, they cannot express their innate desire out in the open before the society because they will be criticized by the society and considered abnormal – much like the traveller in the poem, who wants to enjoy the mirth and calm from the woods in secrecy, hidden from any human eye, and the horse – an instrument of human domination finds this behaviour ‘queer’ much like his fellow humans.

Similar Poetry’s of Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening Analysis

Some other poems that hold similar essence as stopping by the woods are :

I Wander’d Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth:

This poem, composed by William Wordsworth upon his developed theory of emotions recollected in tranquillity, tells about another traveller who comes across a bunch of ‘golden daffodils’ and is enthralled by the beauty of those, which are swaying to the tune of the wind, are dancing and making mirth as a bunch.

The daffodils were sprinkled all over the land and looked as if they stretched till endless land limits. The narrator of this poem says that he will remember the daffodils’ beauty every time he feels ‘vacant’ and ‘pensive’. Therefore, in this poem, too, we see how nature has provided respite to tired souls, charmed them with its beauty and instilled energy and will in them that has motivated them to continue in life.

Nutting by William Wordsworth:

“I came to one dear nook

Unvisited, where not a broken bough

Drooped with its withered leaves, ungracious

Sign

Of devastation; but the hazels rose

Tall and erect, with tempting clusters hung,

A virgin scene!- A little while I stood ,

Breathing with such suppression of the heart

As joy delights in; and, with wise restraint

Voluptuous, fearless of a rival, eyed

The banquet”

Over here, the poet describes the beauty of virgin nature and how even a little boy who has seen very little of beauty is encaptivated by the grace and natural beauty and fins peace amongst nature.

However, the poem ends with a description of how human’s nature is to destroy and mutilate virgin nature. Despite that, the little kid is shown guilty of his act and is shown repenting for his own actions. This kid is typically the sort of people who grow up around nature.

Ode to a Nightingale – John Keats

“What thou among the leaves hast never

Known,

The weariness, the fever, and the fret

Here, where men sit and hear each other

Groan;

Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs,

Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies”

Over here, the poet talks about the ills of human flesh and the difficulties of human life and pitches it against the lives of the nightingale. The poet uses the nightingale as an agent of nature, who lives in the utopian world that is devoid of the problems of the human world, and the poet wants to fly away to their world of permanence and perfection, leaving behind the cage of skin as well as the problems of human life. Here too, we see how the narrator acquires respite from the song of the nightingale, which is an agent of nature itself.