Explain how Robert Frost uses inverted word order in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." What effect does Frost's word order have on the poem? Does it contribute to your understanding and/or...

Explain how Robert Frost uses inverted word order in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." What effect does Frost's word order have on the poem? Does it contribute to your understanding and/or enjoyment of the poem?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Inverted means in backwards or unusual order.  Inverted word choice means the words or in unusual order, or a different order than we would usually have them in spoken speech.  Poets usually invert words to maintain the meter of a poem, to keep the rhythm or make a rhyme, or because it generates meaning in the poem somehow.  A poem is different from prose, or regular written and spoken speech, because it is shorter and written in verse.  Therefore a poet chooses every word carefully to fit the pattern.

Consider the first two lines of the poem.  You can see how Frost has inverted the words in order to make the two lines rhyme. 

Whose woods these are I think I know.   

His house is in the village though

Now “know” and “though” rhyme.  They also rhymes with “snow” in the fourth line.  This maintains the overall pattern Frost creates, because he does the same thing with queer/lake/year and shake/mistake/flake.  The non-rhyming word in each stanza rhymes with the rhyming words in the next stanza, creating an internal rhythm for the poem.

The first line draws you into the poem.  It makes it different, and interesting.  It is just unusual enough to make you wonder what is different about this particular situation.  It also creates that internal rhythm that is kind of sleepy, lulling you in.  You feel comfortable and warm and drowsy.  You feel like you can release your cares and worldly ideas.  You realize that the speaker of the poem is not ready to let go yet.  He is on the verge of something, and deciding.  He does say that he has "miles to go" before he sleeps (or dies).  He will not give in.  Although the inverted word order does not change much, it does establish some of this meaning by putting things off-kilter to begin with.

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