What are some questions about life and death that are mentioned inthe poem?"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The main tension that exists in Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" exists with the speaker who finds himself in almost a trance as he contemplates the beauty and spirtuality of nature while being reminded of his mundane obligations by the horse's shake of the harness.

It is interesting that Robert Frost wrote this poem quickly after having completed the long poem "New Hampshire," which took him the entire night. Rising from his work, Frost went outside to view the sunrise and then composed this poem.  He later remarked about it, "It was as if I'd had a hallucination." Much like the experiences of Emerson and Thoreau who attained spiritual knowledge as a result of their contemplation of nature, the speaker of Frost's poem senses the lure of the "deep." 

  • Should he engage the metaphysical experience promised by his contemplation of the beauty of the deep woods, or should he return to "the petty pace" of the quotidian?

The woods are dark are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep...

  • Is there a meaning to the contemplation of nature that transcends life and death? 

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow...

The darkest evening of the year


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