Is there hidden meaning in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In a sense, yes.  The poem appears to be so simple, and yet it seems possible to come up with a figurative interpretation because of the final two lines: "And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep."  The first of these lines seems as though it can simply be read literally: the speaker is in the woods, enjoying the beauty of the tranquil scene, and he wishes to remain there; however, he is keenly aware of his responsibilities, and he knows that he has to keep moving if he is to do everything he must.  When the line is repeated, on the other hand, it seems to take on more than literal meaning.  Sleep is often symbolic of death, and this symbolism seems appropriate here: the traveler in the wood is world-weary, wishing he could simply spend the rest of his life in these woods, that he could rest here, die here, but he has “miles to go” – too much to do – before he can rest, before he can die.  Therefore, you might call this symbolism a hidden meaning, and, then, we can reread the rest of the poem in light of this symbolic interpretation. 

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

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