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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.
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.
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 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.
Snowflakes that are soft and fluffy, like the down on a very young bird.
Different types of bells were often attached to sleighs or to the harness of a horse pulling a sleigh. The reference to harness bells suggests the speaker is making his journey by sleigh, rather than on horseback.
The harness bells tinkle only one time because the horse gives them a single "shake." This sound suggests the cold, dark setting's deep, prevailing silence.
Robert Frost was quoted as saying:
Everything written is as good as it is dramatic. It need not declare itself in form, but it is drama or nothing.
In the first stanza of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" he injects dramatic tension by making the speaker seem to feel guilty about stopping to look at some trees. He does not want to be seen by the owner of these trees because the owner would probably get the wrong idea about why the speaker is stopping there in the dead of night.
Many critics, biographers, and fellow poets have assumed that the speaker, presumably Frost himself, is feeling guilty and furtive because he is thinking about committing suicide by walking off into the woods and letting himself freeze to death in the snow. Frost repeatedly denied the existence of any "death wish" in his poem.