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 is the tone of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

The tone of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" can be seen as either serene or forlorn, depending on the reader's interpretation of the speaker's feelings towards the wintry woods. Words such as "easy" and "downy" in combination with the quiet of the woods connote tranquility, while the darkness described, along with the sense of the speaker's longing to stay, can make for a more somber tone.

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The tone of a poem can be characterized as the author's attitude toward their subject. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" has two quite different possible tones, depending on the reader's interpretation of what is happening in this poem.

One interpretation is that this poem is about a man who takes a moment out of the rush of life and pauses to reflect upon the simple beauty in nature. From this perspective, the snow falling in the woods is calming. The symbolism of the white snow stands in contrast to the "darkest evening of the year," and this sense of serenity and peace is what the speaker is drawn to. The "easy wind and downy flake" give the speaker's mind a reprieve from the man-made village which lies behind or ahead. In this interpretation, the tone is peaceful.

Other readers point to images of darkness that are woven into the poem. The second stanza contains a sense of fear, captured in words such as "frozen" and "darkest." The horse wants to move forward in the third stanza, believing their stopping here is a "mistake." And finally, the final stanza can be interpreted as the speaker's longing for the peace of death. The darkness is "lovely" to him; if he didn't have so many responsibilities to fulfill, perhaps he would simply "sleep," a figurative reference to the long sleep of death. In this interpretation, the tone is subtly somber and forlorn.

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