Compare and contrast "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "Gentle Communion."

In Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," winter is presented as beautiful and peaceful, whereas in Pat Mora's "Gentle Communion," winter is described only very briefly as the background to a memory the speaker has of her grandmother.

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In "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," the speaker finds himself in a woods which have been "fill[ed] up with snow." The speaker, riding a horse, stops to admire the beautiful winter scene and wonders if his horse thinks it is strange for him to have stopped for no other reason. The speaker then describes a "frozen lake" and the gentle sound of an "easy wind and downy flake." The impression created is of a quiet, peaceful, idyllic scene. In the last stanza of the poem, the speaker concludes that the woods are "lovely, dark and deep," before deciding that he must ride on because he has "promises to keep." This final stanza of the poem suggests that the speaker would very much like to stay a little longer in the woods if it were not for the mysterious purpose of his journey. In the final two lines of the poem, the speaker ends with the word "sleep," emphasizing how peaceful the snowy woods are. It's almost as if the beautiful winter scene has had a soporific, hypnotizing effect upon the speaker.

Whereas winter is the main focus in Frost's poem, it is only incidental in "Gentle Communion." This poem is about the speaker's memories of her grandmother. The grandmother, although dead, still seems very present to the speaker. The speaker imagines that the grandmother, for example, still "wanders through [her] rooms / making beds, folding socks." The speaker regrets not asking more questions of her grandmother while she was still alive. In the second stanza, for example, she wishes that she had asked her grandmother about "the time she fell and broke her nose / in the snow." This is something that happened to the grandmother in "her younger days," and so the implication is perhaps that the grandmother broke her nose when she was, long ago, playing in the snow as a child. Ostensibly the memory of breaking one's nose would be a painful memory, but in the context of the poem, it is a secondhand memory that the speaker cherishes because it reminds her that her grandmother was once a playful, careless child. Winter is important in this poem only in as much as it is the backdrop to this memory the speaker has of her grandmother.

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