illustration of a snowy forest with a cabin in the distance

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

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What do the house, village, and farmhouse symbolize in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

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In Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” the house, farmhouse, and village could symbolize civilization. In the first stanza, the speaker speculates about the owner of the woods. The speaker says the woods belong to someone far away. His “house is in the village.” The distance between the woods and the house/village demonstrates the isolation of the speaker. The speaker is not surrounded by people but by nature, including his horse.

In the second stanza, the horse is puzzled. The animal doesn’t understand why the speaker would “stop without a farmhouse near.” As with the village and house, the farmhouse seems to symbolize civilization. A farmhouse is a product of humans and might represent shelter. The absence of a farmhouse further reinforces the remoteness of the speaker. It bolsters the solitary, person-against-nature atmosphere of the poem. The woods are a setting that departs from humanity. Unlike the farmhouse, the village, and the house, the woods are not inhabited by humans. Separated from people, the speaker can focus on the “lovely, dark and deep” aspects of nature.

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What do the wood and village symbolize in the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

The poem 'Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening' by Robert Frost suggests many ideas and themes for example: possibilities that are out of reach, taboos, secrets, silence, darkness, ignorance and mystery. Let us also consider the sheer beauty and artistic prowess of the poem with its strong use of imagery and metaphor, painting a picture for all to gaze on and wonder at. The scene is so beautiful that even the poet's horse wonders why he has stopped for so long:

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.

and the last two sentences of that stanza convey the forbidden nature of the woods (out of bounds areas in one's life, or experiences a person is not yet ready for) through the creation of silence effects in the poem. However, the poet is wistful at the lost opportunity :

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. 

for he knows he has other commitments and we guess that he is an honourable man. The idea of promises also ties in with the idea of secrets and taboos, but Frost makes no mention of any plan to revisit the woods or ride through the trees, just ending with the last two sleepily hypnotic lines about ending the day without ever visiting the secret places.

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