What are the symbols in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?
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The journey the poem talks about is considered to be a symbol representing one's life journey; the literary figure is called a synecdoche, where a small sample of something is used to represent a larger or more important concept.
The village in the second line and the farmhouse in line 6 are symbols for civilization; by twice emphasizing that he is near neither, the narrator is telling us that he is alone in the world. The "promises to keep" would imply the existence of others in the narrator's life, and his interactions with them, as would the personified horse, who almost talks.
The dark and mysterious woods of the poem have been considered by many to be a metaphor for death, as has the concept of sleep as presented here. Many view the poem as someone contemplating suicide; the fact that the woods are "lovely" indicates thatdeath would be somewhat welcome.The sonorous repeat of the final line gives it special emhasis. "Miles to go' - many years to live - "before I sleep" -before death.
It could be said that the woods are symbolic of the narrator’s desire to be diverted from the journey of life that he is on. If we think about the historical context of the poem, and the increasing pace of life that was being experienced during the 1920’s, we can appreciate the appeal of the ‘frozen lake’, challenged only by ‘easy wind’ and ‘downy flake’. The setting of the poem symbolises the natural, beautiful, peaceful environment, which is no longer appreciated by those whom it belongs to, and is sadly shunned by those with ‘miles to go’.
The setting therefore can be said to represent the beauty of the past, and increasingly less present, state of the US. Frost sets the poem on-
‘The darkest evening of the year.’
This could mean that the future will be brighter, or that the time to enjoy and contemplate such surroundings has passed as life has to move on at an ever increasing rate into the future-
‘And miles to go before I sleep.’
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