Does the first line of "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" follow the pattern set out by the rest of the poem?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The famous first stanza of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" read as follows:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

This sets up the iambic tetrameter and rhyme scheme of the poem. Each line has four iambs, or "daDUM" metric feet, while the third line of each stanza predicts the major rhymes of the following stanza. As can be seen, the first line of the poem follows this structure exactly, containing the following syllabic stresses:

Whose woods these are I think I know.

This rhythm continues throughout the poem. One slight difference between the first line and the following stanzas is that the first line is composed entirely of single-syllable words. While Frost keeps the iambic tetrameter consistent even in a line with a three-syllable word:

But I have promises to keep

--the first line is almost simplistic, not requiring any odd stresses. However, this differs only in the syllabic structure of the words; the poem as a whole never breaks from its rhyme and meter, and consequently is easy to read with a rhythmic beat that flows smoothly between each line.


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