Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Critical Overview
by Robert Frost

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Critical Overview

(Poetry for Students)

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Because it is so well known, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" has received significant critical attention, generally positive. Writing in The Virginia Quarterly Review, James M. Cox states that this poem contains "haunting rhythms" which are formed partly by the "logic of the rhyme scheme." This rhyme scheme, he says, "is an expression of the growing control and determination" of the speaker. John T. Ogilvie, in his article in the South Atlantic Quarterly, suggests that the poem becomes richer with each reading. It has, he says, "a disconcerting way of deepening in dimension as one looks at it, of darkening in tone." A poem which might initially seem simply to describe a natural scene becomes more ominous as the reader becomes more attentive.

John C. Kemp, in his book, Robert Frost and New England: The Poet as Regionalist, also believes the poem is successful in part because of its structure. Here, "we find restraint, economy, and gracefully tuned cadences," he says. In this passage, Kemp is suggesting that Frost is able to use language skillfully, that he is able to draw several levels of meaning from each word and line, and that he is able to do so attractively.