Introduction to Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

“Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” was composed by American poet Robert Frost in 1922 and published in his 1923 volume, New Hampshire. The poem takes the perspective of a speaker who, riding home on a dark winter’s night, stops to gaze into a snow-filled wood he describes as “lovely, dark, and deep.” The speaker’s horse is confused and perhaps troubled by his decision to pause for no apparent reason. Indeed, the ambiguity of the speaker’s fascination is one of the richest aspects of the poem. Lured by the beautiful depths of the woods, the speaker ultimately reminds himself of the distance he must yet travel and of his “promises to keep.”

The poem is written in iambic tetrameter, with a distinctive AABA rhyme scheme in which the B rhyme in each stanza dictates the A rhyme of the succeeding stanza. This braid-like effect echoes Dante’s terza rima form and gives the poem a repetitive, incantatory tone that reflects the speaker’s rapt state.

A Brief Biography of Robert Frost

Robert Frost (1874–1963) was an American poet who has achieved unprecedented name recognition in the United States. His best-known works include “The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” both of which have become synonymous with the genre of nature poetry. Frost, though, was much more than just a nature poet. “Home Burial,” for example, deals with overwhelming grief after the death of a child. “Fire and Ice,” while somewhat tongue-in-cheek, considers the apocalyptic end of the world. And some of his poems, such as “The Oven Bird,” are a complex treatment of a difficult rhyme scheme, proving that Frost could match anyone in form. Furthermore, Frost helped form the conception of Americans as tough, self-sufficient individuals. This New England native, often called the “Icon of Yankee Values,” remains an essential American poet.

Frequently Asked Questions about Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

The meaning of the line "And miles to go before I sleep" has been contested for decades by readers and scholars alike. The most obvious meaning is a literal—the traveler is talking about the...

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 11:41 am (UTC)

5 educator answers

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

According to N. Arthur Bleau, Frost provided the context of his inspiration for "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" at a public reading in 1947. When asked to identify his own favorite poem out...

Latest answer posted September 8, 2020, 11:44 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

In repeating the penultimate line of the poem as the poem’s final line, Frost draws attention to it, both accentuating the speaker's feelings of wistfulness and underscoring the figurative...

Latest answer posted September 8, 2020, 1:06 pm (UTC)

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

In Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," the speaker is passing by with his horse and is moved by the beauty of the snow-covered woods, and so he stops to watch the serene...

Latest answer posted September 8, 2020, 1:31 pm (UTC)

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

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...

Latest answer posted September 8, 2020, 11:11 am (UTC)

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

When we discuss a poem’s structure, what we are talking about is the form the poem takes and, by extension, how it conveys information and experience to the reader. In the case of “Stopping by...

Latest answer posted September 8, 2020, 12:14 pm (UTC)

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

In Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” the speaker hears only the ringing of his horse’s harness bells and the "easy wind" upon the snow's “downy flake.” This peaceful forest is...

Latest answer posted September 8, 2020, 11:41 am (UTC)

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

To understand what the speaker's "promises" symbolize in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," it is important to understand what the poem is about. The speaker has chosen to stop for a moment in...

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 11:20 am (UTC)

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

It seems as though the speaker wants to stop and watch the woods fill up with snow because it is calm, quiet, and serene in the forest. It is likely that his daily life cannot be characterized in...

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 12:25 pm (UTC)

3 educator answers

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

In the second stanza of the poem, the speaker says that his "little horse must think it queer / To stop without a farmhouse near." In other words, the horse seems to be quite used to the kind of...

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 11:08 am (UTC)

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

There are at least two interpretations of the horse's purpose in the poem based on readers' differing interpretations of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." Some readers find that this is a...

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 11:54 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

At the end of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," the speaker says that he has "promises" to keep. In this context, promises are his responsibilities and duties. They are what compel him to...

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 11:41 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

In the third stanza of the poem, the speaker's horse shakes his harness bells to "ask if there is some mistake." The speaker of the poem and his horse may make these kinds of trips often, and so...

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 11:31 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" uses elements of nature to convey some darker truths, which is common in Frost's poetry. Indeed, some readers read the poem as centering around death. By this...

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 11:38 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

The "darkest evening of the year" occurs on December 21 in the northern hemisphere. This is the day when there is the least daylight due to the tilt of the Earth's axis. Therefore, December 21 also...

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 11:21 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

A symbol is something that has both literal and figurative meaning. In the case of the woods in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," this means that the woods are literally present in the poem...

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 11:50 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Very little can be said about the speaker on "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" in concrete terms. His name, age, profession, and place of residence are all unknown, but certain facts and...

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 2:52 pm (UTC)

1 educator answer

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is a lyric poem. A lyric poem is one that expresses personal emotion, often using the first person "I" voice to express what the poem's speaker is feeling....

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 11:29 am (UTC)

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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" centers around the speaker's decision to pause his journey to observe a beautiful, snow-filled forest. In the second stanza of the poem, the speaker says that...

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 11:22 am (UTC)

1 educator answer

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is one of Robert Frost's most popular poems. Scholars and critics have debated its meaning for years. Some see the poem as a commentary on loneliness; others...

Latest answer posted September 7, 2020, 2:01 pm (UTC)

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Summary