Where is the speaker at this time: "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 "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The speaker is deep into the woods when he speaks these lines.  He says that he knows the person to whom this land and trees belong, but that person's home is far away, in "the village." Consequently, he will not see the narrator and his horse stop to enjoy the quiet and watch the snow fall.  In fact, the speaker is deep enough into the woods that there is no one else living anywhere nearby—he says that no "farmhouse [is] near"—and this adds to the peacefulness and tranquility he feels watching the "downy flake."  

In the first line of the last stanza, he describes the forest as "lovely, dark and deep," again reinforcing how vast the woods here are and how far into them he has traveled.  He has "miles to go" before he can stop, perhaps because there is, quite literally, nowhere for him to sleep without a farmhouse nearby; this fact confirms the depth of the woods as well.  

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The speaker in the poem is on a journey, and he still has miles to go before he reaches his destination. He stops to observe the beautiful sight because "the woods are lovely, dark and deep." When he stops to observe, he is in the depths of the woods. He thinks he knows who owns this large property where the woods are located.  

The speaker's horse knows it is strange to stop there. Usually, if they stopped at night it would be at a farmhouse. A farmhouse would offer warmth and shelter on a frigid winter evening.  

Though the speaker enjoys the beauty of the snowy woods in the moonlight, he knows he must go on. He cannot dawdle in the woods on such a cold night. He needs to find shelter for himself and his horse. He still has miles left in his journey, and he cannot waste time. He promised someone he would arrive soon.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial