‘Stopping by woods’ may appear to be a simple and small poem, yet one can unravel deeper and serious themes running through it.
The beauty of the woods is so fascinating that the traveler desires to linger there a little longer. The peaceful ambience devoid of any kind of distraction or blot offers him so a profound joy that he's reluctant to resume his journey.
However, soon he recalls that he has promises to fulfill.
But i have promises to keep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
The traveler is expected to move on rather than luxuriate himself in the enchantment the woods bestow upon him. Here lies the conflict. It’s between the desire to please oneself and the urge to abstain from it in order to fulfill one’s responsibility.
There’s something universal about this inherent theme of the poem. Quite often we experience such clash within ourselves. Our bigger goals require us be perseverant and disciplined. If we indulge ourselves in pleasures, we fear to lose our cherished dreams. Also, at times, in order to fulfill our duties, we are needed to relinquish our enjoyment and fun.
It’s this inner conflict that lies at the crux of the poem, which appears to be a simple lyric describing the soothing beauty of some isolated woods in a wintry evening.