What kind of imagery is used in "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

Asked on by carmen85

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

When we refer to "imagery" we are talking about a literary term meaning the images and pictures that authors "paint" as it were with their words. We mean the descriptions that are created that help us to imagine and picture the scene. In this excellent poem by Frost, the imagery relates to this tranquil and immensely peaceful scene of the man with his horse stopping "between the woods and the frozen lake" with snow all around. The most effective imagery tries to incorporate as many of the senses as possible to help us imagine the scene, and in this particular scene, we can visually see the "lovely, dark, and deep" woods, we can hear the "harness bells" of the horse and the "sweep/Of easy wind and downy flake," and obviously the snow and the "frozen lake" helps us to feel the cold of the scene. These details all build up the image of the spot where the speaker has paused in his journey.

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shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is often taught in high school as an example of imagery and symbolism. As the above post noted, Frost appeals to several senses with the images he creates by word choice (also known as diction).

It is also important to realize that Frost is using imagery to do more than appeal to the readers’ senses, he is also using imagery to create a symbol that helps impart a deeper meaning to the story.

The poem concludes with the following lines:

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.

In this final stanza Frost uses imagery to shift the poem’s focus from description to symbolism.  The image of the woods as “lovely, dark, and deep” are considered by many to be a symbolic reference to what death is like. It prepares the reader for the final two lines, “And miles to go before I sleep,” which is emphasized by repetition, and refers to actual act of dying. 

By using images to create his symbol, Frost has made his poem memorable. The fact that the poem has been taught in school for decades attests to this fact.


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