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 kind of dilemma does the poet face when he reaches the woods?

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In Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” the wagon or carriage driver is in the midst of conducting some business, or of running an important errand. But he stops the horse at the woods, just so he can take in and watch the beauty of the snowflakes falling on the trees. His dilemma is that he doesn’t have a lot of time to spend—or waste, depending on how you look at it—to pause here for very long. He can’t turn his full attention to nature and to the weather, to merely enjoy the moment. He has other commitments, other duties, and other responsibilities to attend to. He makes enough time to take care of himself here, spiritually. But then he must continue on, to his additional “promises” and those “miles to go.” His story is an example of the real-life challenge of balancing personal time and paying time, or work.

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