What is the meaning behind "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

Robert Frost's “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is about observing and appreciating beauty. The speaker pauses in his journey to take in the beauty of a snowy wood and then express what he has seen and heard. Other interpretations focus on the speaker's inner turmoil, as he longs to stay in the wood but knows he has other obligations to fulfill before he can truly rest.

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is one of Robert Frost's most popular poems. Scholars and critics have debated its meaning for years. Some see the poem as a commentary on loneliness; others think that the poem might describe a contemplation of suicide.

Frost himself, however,...

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is one of Robert Frost's most popular poems. Scholars and critics have debated its meaning for years. Some see the poem as a commentary on loneliness; others think that the poem might describe a contemplation of suicide.

Frost himself, however, in a 1962 appearance, directed his readers away from such serious and solemn interpretations. He said that his greatest pleasure in composing the poem was the sound of the couplet “He gives his harness bells a shake / To ask if there is some mistake” and its contrast to the next couplet, which evokes the sound of the wind and the snowflakes.

Frost, then, was suggesting that his poem is primarily about observation and expression. The speaker is on a journey, and it must be one of some importance, for he says he has “promises to keep," yet he stops to observe the “woods fill up with snow." He stands still for a few minutes in the dark to enjoy the luminous beauty of the woods. This is perhaps a different kind of beauty than what the speaker would see during the day, and that in itself may be central to its appeal. He notices the sounds around him and the contrast between them—between the horse's bells and the wind and snow. Then he takes the time to creatively express the beauty he has observed.

The speaker wishes he might stay longer, for “the woods are lovely, dark and deep,” but his obligations call to him, drawing him away from his observations. Readers may be encouraged to notice beauty in unexpected places and take even a few moments out of their busy lives to enjoy it.

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