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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

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Exploring the Themes, Messages, and Symbolism in Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"

Summary:

In "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," the main themes are isolation, duty, and the beauty of nature. The poem celebrates the positive aspects of solitude, as the speaker enjoys a moment of peace and reflection in the snowy woods. However, this isolation also reinforces his sense of duty and responsibility, as he ultimately acknowledges the commitments that compel him to leave the serene setting.

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How does the theme of isolation sum up the message in Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

Although isolation is often seen as a negative word, Frost, shows, on the contrary, the positive power of stopping to take a few moments alone to appreciate the intense beauty of nature.

In this case, the speaker is riding his through the woods in winter on the "darkest evening of the year," which would suggest it is a short day near the end of December. He stops to watch the silent beauty of the snow falling, white and downy like feathers against a dark sky. He is all by himself, except for his horse. The speaker tells us, after his horse shakes his harness bells:

The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The poem celebrates a spiritually renewing moment of individual solitude and stillness in communion with nature. The speaker wishes he could stay longer in the woods, watching the snow fall, but the pressures and commitments of life mean he must move back towards the world of human community:
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Many of us have experienced an instance of isolation or solitude in nature when we are spellbound by its beauty and silence. This poem captures the feeling of that brief time, telling us it is worthwhile to appreciate such fleeting moments.
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How does the theme of isolation sum up the message in Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

The isolation that the speaker experiences reaffirms the sense of duty and responsibility that is embraced at the end of the poem. The speaker articulates a condition of being isolated from others. The setting in which the speaker reflects is one in which there is no one else around.  "He will not see me stopping here" enhances this feeling of being alone in the woods.  In this setting of isolation, without distractions or other attachments, the speaker is forced to reflect about their condition in the world.  It is through this isolation and sense of reflection that the speaker is able to embrace the need to uphold the duty and responsibility that is intrinsic to their being. It is isolation that enables the speaker to fully understand what duty entails and of what responsibility consists.  "The promises to keep" and "miles to go before I sleep" are realities that dawn upon the speaker only when there is total isolation from others.  The theme of isolation helps to enhance the overall message of duty and responsibility that is evident in the poem.

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What does Frost hope to convey in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

Late in life, after years of avoiding the general public's persistent question of "What does this poem mean?", Robert Frost said that it was simply a poem about the beauty of falling snow. Although we can read many other ideas into it and see many other elements at work, it is hard to argue with the simplicity of its aesthetic quality and the poet's intent.

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

One theme central to "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is the contrast between society and nature.

From the first stanza, the speaker is on a journey between two places. He decides to "stop" and simply "watch [some] woods fill up with snow." This presents nature as a place of respite—a space to find serenity and a quiet stillness.

The speaker considers how his decision to stop must seem "queer" to his horse, who is likely used to pressing forward from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Undoubtedly, the speaker initially departed on this particular journey with a sense of urgency since it is the "darkest evening of the year." Yet despite his plans, he finds himself stopping in the midst of nature, completely alone and isolated as he notes the "easy wind" which blows through this forest.

This place of respite stands in contrast to the man whose "house is in the village" and who likely owns this property on which the speaker pauses. The speaker wants to avoid being seen by this man, which further demonstrates his desire to avoid a return to the restrictions of society. After all, who determines ownership of a beautiful wood covered in a majestic snowfall? The owner will never know of this speaker's presence, which demonstrates an ultimate futility in society's need to lay claim to the natural world.

Although these woods are "lovely," the speaker must eventually tear himself from the serenity of nature in order to continue on his journey. His obligations pull him back into the society which he would rather avoid and away from the sense of calm stillness which nature provides.

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

The speaker of the poem is mindful that he has "miles to go before" he can stop to rest, so aware is he and so pressing are his responsibilities that he actually repeats this idea twice at the end of the poem. He knows that his "promises" must be kept, his responsibilities met. However, he cannot help but be arrested by the beautiful and tranquil sight of the deep, dark woods "fill[ing] up with snow." It is the darkest evening of the year and the "downy flake" blows gently through the "lovely, dark and deep" forest. The speaker is so awed by the sight of the dark woods and the pure white snow that he stops, and even his horse is a little confused because he is used to their routine and knows that they would not normally "stop without a farmhouse near." Thus, one theme of the poem is that the beauty and tranquility of nature can provide a respite from the demands of society and work.

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

The two previous posts show how the interpretation of literature is fundamentally arbitrary.  There's no one right answer -- the first says it's about death, the second about accomplishing duties.

The eNotes discussion of themes of the poem argues that there are three main ones:

  • Beauty
  • Return to nature and how difficult it is to do this given the demands of everyday society.
  • Duty and responsibility

As a non-literature person, I have always been struck by the beauty of the imagery or maybe it's the rhythm of the poem.  But I've always thought it was a beautiful and soothing poem.

If I had to pick what I think is the central idea, I would agree that it's about the second bullet above.

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

It seems that the narrator is contemplating death on this "darkest night of the year." Not that he is thinking about ending his own life, but he feels the lure of death that will be there later for him. Death looks to him "lovely, dark, and deep." Not scary, not grim, but rather welcoming, almost a relief.

But it is not yet his time, for he has connections with other people, "promises to keep" and a long way to go before the end finally comes..."miles to go before I sleep." Yet, it feels like he is comforted by the thought of the end in the distance. One day, sure, but not right now.

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

Frost focuses mostly on the theme of nature, and how the speaker's duties keep him from stopping and enjoying the beauty of nature.  He almost envies the owner of the woods.  He owns this beautiful land, yet he lives in town.  So there's a hint there that the owner does not appreciate what he has.

"Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though"

Even the horse gives his bells a little jingle as if he knows he's not supposed to be stopping.  It's as if the horse too has a sense of duty.  He understands that he is to keep moving and will stop when he gets to his stable. It's almost a reversal in roles here.  The man should be the one who continues on and the horse, being considered a part of nature himself, should long to stay a while.  Here it's the opposite.

The speaker longs to stay and enjoy the beautiful scenery, but knows he must move on after his brief stop.  He has "miles to go before [he] sleep[s]."

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

At the beginning of the poem, the speaker stops in the woods and simply enjoys the scene before him. He's in the country, and it is snowing. The beauty of it overwhelms him, and it's so quiet that the speaker hears nothing but a very gentle wind. He wants to go further into the woods, but if he gets lost, he won't be able to fulfill his obligations that he has in town, and he takes his promises to others very seriously. The speaker contrasts the man-made modern world with the elegant beauty of nature. He's more attracted to the natural world of the falling snow and the quiet, peaceful setting of nature, but he's pulled away from it by his obligations in the modern world.

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

This poem is about taking time to appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature. The speaker is overwhelmed by the sight of the snow on the fields, and he stops to enjoy it. He must move on, however, because he has responsibilities and "miles to go before I sleep."

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" can be read as an allegory. Frost devotes the first three stanzas of the poem to describe the woods he comes across while he was on his way to accomplish some important task. But it's only in the final stanza, he reveals the main theme of the poem. 

He halts for the serenity and bewitching beauty of the place holds him spellbound. He lingers there for a while pleasing himself with the peaceful joy the woods offer him in that “snowy evening.”

The snow has covered the entire place. The soft snow hangs over the trees and the lake has frozen completely. The only sound that can be heard in that uninhabited place is that of the horse’s “harness bells” and “the sweep / Of easy wind and downy flake.”

The pristine and idyllic beauty of the woods casts a spell on him making him reluctant to move on. But soon he recalls he has “promises to keep.” He ought not to linger there pleasing himself rather continue with his journey. He’s still “miles to go.”

So, we see he faces a dilemma. On the one hand he wants to prolong his stay in the woods and revel in the delight that he hasn’t found anywhere else, while on the other hand, he knows he must leave instantly to fulfill his duty.

What the poet wants to convey is, perhaps, the fact that life often comes up with attractive enticements once we have made up our mind to stop not until our goal is achieved. It makes our journey even more arduous and challenging.

The poet, too, is offered a similar enticement in the form of the beautiful woods. There’s nobody to question him or order him to leave the place. But he wouldn’t indulge in self-gratification. He would forsake this pleasure to keep his promises. 

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

The second stanza of the famous Frost poem published (1923) in New Hampshire contains a highly significant allusion:

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year. (my emphasis)

Although Frost never made the claim to have done so, it is possible, perhaps even probable that once written he would have allowed this allusion to the opening lines of Dante's Inferno to stand. Briefly, the opening lines of the Divina Commedia (Inferno) find the poet lost midway upon the road of life within a dark wood, having strayed from the right way. However, Frost's allusion is far more sweeping in its implication. Not only does it refer to the "woods" of despair into which the middle-aged Dante has wandered, it takes in the whole topography of Hell, including its bottom most "frozen lake" in which Satan is encased. This sweeping allusion imparts a significance to the poem far beyond the simple tableau it depicts. Frost struggled with despair all his life. What better way to convey this than by linking his dark winter journey of life to the pilgrim poet par excellence - Dante whose "dark night of the soul" and search for God are reflected in the Divine Comedy.

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

One way to look at this poem is through the theme of the contemplation of life. In the poem, the speaker has paused in the middle of the woods to look at the landscape and admire its beauty. Note that, in the last stanza, the woods are "lovely, dark and deep." Foremost, they are lovely. Had Frost put a comma after "dark," each term would have been given equal weight. However, he singles out "lovely" first and then adds that the woods are "dark and deep" as well. So, in this moment of contemplation the notions of "dark and deep" might not be interpreted in negative ways. The speaker could be remarking that the entire scene (snow, darkness, and depth) as a combined whole is lovely. 

On the surface, this is a moment of contemplation of an evocative landscape. But note - it is evening. This is a time after work hours and before actual night. It is a transition period. It is the darkest night of the year. That means it is December 22nd, the winter solstice. This is also a transitional date, moving from autumn to winter. So, in this moment of contemplation, the speaker must be thinking about the past and the future. Such is the nature of being in a transitional phase. Given that it is evening, he is not preoccupied with work, which would occur earlier in the day. And given that it is prior to nightfall and he is not home yet, he is not with his family or going to sleep. He is in between these two phases of the day. It is a transitional part of the day and year.

Consider this as a parallel to his life. The early part of the day (youth) is past and the night (death) is yet to come. He is perhaps in the midlife stage. This is a time for reflection. He wonders about what he should or would have done in the past. He then looks forward to the promises he has to keep for the future. So, this thematic analysis of contemplation shows how Frost is using a moment in the woods to evoke other notions of reflection and contemplation in a transitional yet fleeting stage. 

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

One theme is the theme of isolation.  

This is probably my personal favorite theme of the poem. It's a lonely poem. The speaker is a man who has stopped with his horse beside a lonely wood. He doesn't know who the woods belongs to, but he is sure that the owner lives in the town that is in the area.

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;  

There's nobody else around. In fact, he is so alone that the only sound that he hears is the wind and the harness bells. 

He gives his harness bells a shake   
To ask if there is some mistake.   
The only other sound’s the sweep   
Of easy wind and downy flake.  

I never get the feeling that the man is scared by his isolation. In fact, I get the opposite feeling. I think that he enjoys his isolation and alone time. I feel that is especially evident by the positive way in which he talks about the dark and snowy woods.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, 

The ending of the poem seems to indicate that he is tired and not looking forward to keeping those promises. Those promises are likely reminders of his busy, people-centered life. I always get the feeling that the man is thinking those final two lines with a heavy sigh.

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

The poem has many different possible themes. One of the most poignant is the theme of sadness, or of possibilities that cannot be taken because of current responsibilities. The narrator wants to take more time to view the woods and enjoy nature, but he has "miles to go" and cannot take more than a few moments. He doesn't want to just work and work every minute of every day, but he has no other choice, and he feels sad that he can't spend more time just living and experiencing nature. It is even possible that he is constrained by the owner of the woods:

He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
(Frost, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," eNotes eText)

For some reason, the narrator is compelled to mention that the owner can't see him stopping; either he is not supposed to stop there, or he is simply mentioning that the owner lives far away from these beautiful woods. Regardless, the narrator is filled with a certain kind of sadness, the kind that builds castles in the sky and dreams of escape. He must fulfil his promises, but perhaps the sight of the snowy woods will give him the motivation to escape his daily toil.

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

There are many possible themes to be read in the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." One of the most common interpretations is Personal Responsibility; the narrator is enthralled by the snowy woods, and stops in his civilized pursuits to take in the beauty of a natural landscape, but he can't stay. This can be read in the final stanza, which contrasts the beauty of the woods with the narrator's obligations:

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.
(Frost, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," eNotes eText)

Although the narrator appreciates and loves the woods for their natural beauty, he needs to continue his journey, because he has "miles to go before [he] sleeps." He must continue working as a part of society because that is the role expected of him; his obligations leave him only moments to enjoy the simpler things in life. Perhaps in time, if he works hard within societal constraints, he will own a plot of land in the woods to sit in, enjoying nature for its innate perfection; for now, though, he must continue to travel to keep his promises.

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

In the poem, an individual is briefly arrested by a beautiful winter scene. Despite the fact that he has so much work to do and obligations to which he must attend ("promises to keep"), he feels compelled to stop to "watch [the] woods fill up with snow" and to appreciate how "lovely, dark and deep" the forest is. The poem's mood feels quite tranquil, aided by images that convey the scene's beauty and silence. The narrator is alone in the woods (except for his horse) because the man who owns the land lives "in the village." Moreover, it is the "darkest evening of the year," and the speaker enjoys the serenity to be found in solitude and the relative silence of "the sweep / Of easy wind and downy flake." The poem shows how possible it is for us to stop and appreciate the beauty of a moment like this. We may be pulled in many different directions by our many and myriad responsibilities, but this should not prevent us from stopping to appreciate these peaceful moments when they come.

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

At the center of Robert Frost's poem is the description of a moment of contemplation -- how our daily activities, in all their complexity of decision and actions, the moments obfuscate the larger "meanings" of our actual physical existence.   The narrator here (we always assume "I" means Frost himself here) is near the end of a day of mundane, everyday activities, when the tranquility of the scene temporarily causes him to pause.  Even his horse, a creature of simple consciousness that is freed of the burden of self-consciousness, "thinks it queer" that they should stop here for no apparent reason (Frost purposely uses the word "thinks"), just as we, in our daily routines, do not stop to contemplate the present.  The poem, then, becomes a snapshot of our own (the reader's) failure to live in the moment. 

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

A theme is the statement, directly expressed or implied, that a text makes about its subject. This particular text seems to comment on both the positive effect nature can have on us as well as on the nature of obligations and responsibilities and their contrast with what we might prefer to do with our time. First, then, the poem conveys the idea that nature has the ability to impact us for the better. The speaker cannot help but stop in the woods to "watch [them] fill up with snow." They are so beautiful—"lovely, dark and deep"—and he is comforted by their tranquility and relative silence compared to the village. Second, the poem conveys the idea that what we want is often in conflict with our responsibilities or obligations. The speaker says,

But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

His repetition of the next-to-last line seems to convey a wistfulness or longing to remain in this tranquil place, but he cannot because he has responsibilities that call him away.

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

As with most of Robert Frost's poetry, there are several major themes to be found within "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." Different readers will define different interpretations as being the "major theme."

Certainly, one theme contained within the poem is the appreciation of the natural setting in which the speaker finds himself. He stops his travels to watch the falling snow and listen to the soft sounds of the wind in the woods. He may be regretting the difficulty of remaining in tune with nature as his horse shakes its harness and interrupts the solitude.

On a more introspective level, the "lovely, dark and deep" woods may be seen as a symbol for a peaceful time in the speaker's future - death, perhaps? The speaker is obviously attracted to the tranquil nature of the wooded area he is observing, but he has obligations to fulfill before he can "sleep."

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

Figurative meaning refers to meaning that is conveyed through the use of figures of speech such as comparisons, analogies, and other symbolic uses of language.

As with most poetry, interpretation of the meaning of the poem is possible on several levels. Literally, the poem features a speaker who has stopped to admire the beauty of snow falling in the woods before continuing on with his journey to complete obligations of some sort. Figuratively, the wintery timing of the poem, the "darkest evening of the year," and the attraction to the "dark and deep" woods could all be references to the speaker's thoughts of approaching death. It would appear this prospect is something the speaker is anticipating with pleasure rather than fear or apprehension, but there is business to be completed before death arrives.

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What is the central theme of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

“Idea” is a pretty vague term, so we should begin by dividing the ideas into types:  On the symbolic idea level, many readers see this poem as a comment on death and suicide, as though Frost was musing on whether the thought of death could be compared to a moment of quiet contemplation of ending our “journey” through the “night” of our cold and lonely existence.  The extreme popularity of the poem, however, calls for a more thorough look at the poem’s “ideas.”  It might merely be, on the social, human level, a poetic expression of our life, partly simply a fulfillment of prior commitments (“I have promises to keep”)—a sort of model of the momentum our lives have, through the “woods” of our environment—effort and rest, and the “getting through” our day.  But the real value of the poem is the idea of its immediacy, its portrait of presence, of “being here now.”  The narrator/traveler pauses a moment in the dark and looks around him or her at the landscape, devoid of all human contact, both quiet and still, and takes in the tranquility. The horse, ever a servant to its master’s command, has stopped its journey, for no discernable reason for a beast, and shakes its bells, an artificial noise that fills the void, unlike man, who throws the blanket of cause and effect over every decision to act or not act, but can “imagine” a pause in logical actions.  The remarkable mood and atmosphere of the poem, embellished by the easy rhythms and smooth rhymes of the words, are alone the “idea” of this poem/scene, and could alone give the poem its reason for being, over and above any symbolic value.

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What does each stanza in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" convey?

Frost has been quoted as saying the following:

Everything written is as good as it is dramatic. It need not declare itself in form, but it is drama or nothing.

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is a seemingly simple tribute to the beauty of nature, but Frost has made it dramatic by suggesting conflicting emotions in the speaker. He wants to stop "to watch his woods fill up with snow," yet he seems a bit worried about being seen doing this, especially by being seen by the owner of the woods whose "house is in the village." Why should he be concerned about being seen by the owner or anybody else? This question raised in the first stanza lends a dramatic feeling to the entire poem. What does the speaker have in mind? What does he want?

In the second stanza the speaker calls attention to his horse. This little animal is cold and probably hungry. It wants to finish this trip and get out of the dark, snowy night. Even the horse wonders why the speaker should be stopping here in the middle of nowhere on a snowy evening. Many critics have suggested that the speaker has a death wish--that he is thinking it would be easy to end all his problems by walking into those woods, so "lovely, dark and deep," and lie down in the snow. Freezing to death is supposed to be an easy way of dying. Frost, however, denied that there was any death wish in his poem. Evidently he was concerned with making it dramatic. Imagine the same poem without the owner, without the little horse shaking its harness bells, and without the words "The woods are lovely, dark and deep," which suggest that the mysterious trees seem to be pulling the speaker into them and offering him a pleasant death.

In the third stanza when the horse gives his harness bells a shake, the sound seems to pull the speaker out of his trance-like state. His horse reminds him that they should get going. Evidently the speaker has been to town on some errand and is on his way back home. If he were indeed thinking of committing suicide, he couldn't leave his patient, faithful little horse standing there in the falling snow. If the horse didn't freeze to death, it might go on to the nearest farmhouse, in which case the people there would be sure there had been a serious accident and would follow the road back to where the horse and sleigh had been standing. 

In the last stanza the speaker is reminded that he has obligations and responsibilities. He has been far away in his solitary thoughts and now is returning to reality. Either he cannot just sit there looking at a beautiful scene, or else he cannot commit suicide on the spur of the moment. He has food for his family and probably Christmas presents in the sleigh. He regrets having to continue on his journey, but he has a long way to travel in his slow-moving horse-drawn vehicle before he gets home. The repetition of the line "And miles to go before I sleep" seems to suggest that he is also thinking that he has a long life ahead of him, with many problems to deal with, before he finally goes to sleep forever.

Even if the poem does not suggest a secret "death wish," as critics have claimed, it does seem to contain a thought about death. This is certainly understandable, and even appropriate, considering the time of year, the time of night, the darkness, the isolation, the coldness. Everybody thinks about death occasionally--but that doesn't necessarily mean that they want to expedite it.

Frost wrote "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" early in the 1920s, and he didn't die until 1963. He had a long life ahead of him after that snowy night when the glory of nature caused him to stop for a few minutes to watch a stand of trees being slowly covered by the drifting snow. 

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What does each stanza in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" convey?

In the beautiful poem 'Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening' by Robert Frost, the poet describes a late ride through the snow to an appointment.In the first stanza he sets the tranquil scene and lets us enter his world where he is gazing and reflecting on some woods - it seems as if he briefly considers riding through the snow to experience their mysterious snowy beauty. He explains that he thinks he knows who they belong to, and that the person in question would not be able to see him diverting from his true path if he did venture in. In the next stanza he says that his horse would think it strange that he stopped in such an isolated spot on the worst night of the year for getting lost due to bad light - of course the horse cannot share his appreciation and wonderment of the sight. He creates a mood of stillness and blanketing silence in the third stanza by letting us hear only the tinkling of the reins - perhaps like a sleigh bell sound. Stanza four tells us what his regretful decision was, that despite the comforting blanketing and beckoning of the lovely woods, the poet is on a mission - he has an appointment to keep and a long way still to ride. In studying the poem you might want to consider themes such as regret, choices,mystery, taboo and sanctuary.

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What is the message of the poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

There is a mistaken assumption built into this question—that poets are preachers or philosophers or moralizers in every poem they write.  Here, Frost is an observer, a contemplater, and (even if you subscribe to the theory that the woods represent death) the poem is a sketch of a moment in his own experience when he pauses to breathe in the calmness of the atmosphere.  If there is any “lesson” to be passed along, it is to enjoy occasionally the beauty of the stillness around your busy day, to let the hurly-burly of the physical world pause a moment to not forget to feel the textures of life.  The horse, in this interpretation, helps to reinforce the metaphor; it is a dumb beast, incapable of contemplation; “he gives his harness bells a shake” because he cannot separate “work” from “living” and cannot imagine, cannot project to a non-working existence, but Frost can.  Near the end of a busy day doing something away from his home, the first-person narrator pauses on his way to his bed.  Why?  No practical reason—no adjustment, no impediment, just a moment of tranquility.  Frost is perhaps suggesting the reader should do the same from time to time.

If you use this response in your own work, it must be cited as an expert answer from eNotes. All expert answers on eNotes are indexed by Google and other search engines. Your teacher will easily be able to find this answer if you claim it as your own.

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What inspired Robert Frost to write "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 of all those he had written, Frost eventually decided on "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." The poem is set just before Christmas, and Frost had endured a personal disappointment just before Christmas years before, and that experience supposedly provided the inspiration for the poem.

Frost and his family lived on a farm, and there was not much extra money for Christmas gifts that year. Frost gathered up as many of the farm's goods as he possibly could and travelled to town, hoping to trade them for some gifts for his family's Christmas.

In town, he realized that the market for his goods was poor. Everyone was struggling financially, and he wasn't able to trade his goods. He loaded up his wagon and began the journey back home.

Filled with an emotional burden about disappointing his family at Christmastime, he began to dread his return to the farm. As he got closer, his heart grew heavier. Frost didn't want to face his family.

Frost and his horse came around a bend in the path, and he finally gave in to his feelings of disappointment. The horse stopped to wait on him, and when he was finished, the horse shook its head, jingling the bells on its harness. Frost realized that although Christmas would not be filled with material gifts, he and his family would still share an abundance of love. The horse, seemingly realizing that Frost was now ready to proceed, began to move toward the house again.

Although "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" was composed later, Frost acknowledged that this experience shaped the poem he would eventually identify as his favorite.

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What feelings does Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" evoke?

Robert Frost once answered a similar question with the statement: "If I wanted you to know I'd had told you in the poem." Feelings from poetry are intensely personal, and a poem that creates deep feelings in one may leave another cold. For "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," the feelings include nostalgia, desire, sadness, joy, appreciation of beauty... the list goes on.

The poem certainly has a hint of sadness in it. The narrator wants to sit and admire the woods, but he needs to travel to fulfil his obligations. He has no leisure time, and even his horse is impatient, wanting to continue. Life doesn't give people many choices, and many times pleasure must be put off for business. The narrator realizes this and deliberately steals some time to enjoy the sight of the snowy woods.

Another feeling that might be created is envy; the narrator is envious of the person who owns the woods and yet does not appreciate them properly:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
(Frost, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," eNotes eText)

If the narrator owned these woods, he would live inside it, experiencing nature through his love of natural beauty. The reader is invited to sympathize with the narrator and develop a desire for a simpler life, devoid of the constant distractions of civilization and obligation.

In the end, the feelings that come from the poem are personal, and no two people will feel the same after reading it.

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In "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost, how would you explain the feelings and concepts the poem expresses?

This poem is usually used as an example of symbolism to help students explore symbolic meaning, or what lies beneath the surface. Therefore, it is important to try and work out or discern what are symbols in this poem to discover that Robert Frost is trying to say through his poem. There is much more to this poem than a literal pause in a wintry journey. The secret to working out symbolic meaning is to pay attention to clues the poet plants, such as repetition, emphasis, word associations, and mysterious images.

Bearing this in mind, examining the poem, an in particular the last stanza, we discover that this poem is actually about the desire for death or "rest" against the long days of hard work ahead. Consider the final stanza:

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.

Notice how the woods are described in an attractive way - they are "lovely" but also "dark" and "deep", however, in spite of the temptation the speaker feels to stay here and rest, to "sleep", he recognises that unfortunately, duty calls, for he has "promises to keep" and obligations to fulfil. The repetition of the final line really serves to underline the reluctance that the speaker has in continuing with his journey and the work of life - "sleep" is an attractive prospect, especially in such a place of beauty.

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What's the main idea of the first stanza in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

The speaker, presumably Robert Frost himself, is driving in a sleigh drawn by a single horse. It is snowing. He is struck by the beauty of a particular stand of trees and stops to look at them. He seems to be feeling a little guilty about doing this. He is afraid of being seen by the man who owns the trees. Many commentators have taken what one critic calls the "criminal patina" in the poem to indicate that the speaker is thinking of committing suicide by letting himself freeze to death in the snow. Jeffery Meyers, in his biography of Frost, writes:

The theme of “Stopping by Woods” despite Frost‟s disclaimer--is the temptation of death, even suicide, symbolized by the woods that are filling up with snow on the darkest evening of the year. The speaker...wants to lie down and let the snow cover and bury him.
But if he is afraid of being seen sitting there in his sleigh contemplating suicide, why should he be especially afraid of being seen by the owner of the trees? This is a thinly populated area in New Hampshire where everybody knows everybody. The speaker is more likely to be observed by someone other than the owner of the trees, who is probably sitting comfortably in front of his fireplace in the village.
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.
I suggest that the speaker is a little uneasy about being seen by the owner because the owner will suspect him of planning to steal one of the saplings for a Christmas tree. This is "the darkest evening of the year," which is a few days before Christmas. The only trees worth looking at would be evergreens. 

This alternative explanation suggests that these must be fir trees, and most likely either Balsam firs or Fraser firs. New Hampshire is famous for its spectacular fall foliage, but by the winter solstice its deciduous trees would be “bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang.” Evergreens, however, look especially picturesque with their boughs bending under virgin snow. According to the New Hampshire Christmas Tree Promotion Board:

Christmas trees are grown all over New Hampshire, from the rugged Great North Woods above the White Mountains [where Frost lived for many years] to the scenic Lakes Region, in the pastoral Monadnock area and on to the farms of the Merrimack Valley and the Seacoast. Most of the farms are family owned and operated and range in size from less than an acre to 100 acres in size. The New Hampshire farms grow a number of different species of Christmas trees, although Balsam fir and Fraser fir are the most numerous.

So the speaker only wants to spend a few minutes looking at the beautiful trees as the green branches are covered by the white snow. Frost makes his poem dramatic by suggesting that there is something more sinister involved.

Everything written is as good as it is dramatic. It need not declare itself in form, but it is drama or nothing.  -Robert Frost

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How does Frost portray isolation and silence in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

In his poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," Frost conveys a sense of isolation and silence with the imagery of the snowy setting in a country field, the softness of the word sounds, and a tone of rueful, private reflection.

In literature, the seasonal setting of winter is often associated with isolation and stillness. This is because, in northern winters, there are few, if any, people moving about; certainly, there are no birds singing nor many small animals scampering around trees or across fields. When the speaker stops in the woods with no farmhouse in sight, he is met with silence and darkness, both of which convey a sense of isolation.

The horse, an animal of much intuition, senses this isolation and is puzzled by it, "thinking it queer" to stop without a shelter nearby:

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake

Then, the two lines that follow those mentioned above describe the singleness of the speaker's presence and the "sounds of silence" that accompany the drifting snow in the expansive fields:

The only other sound's the sweep 
Of easy wind and downy flake. 

The quietness of this poem is enhanced by Frost's avoidance of glottal sounds (sounds made in the back of the throat such as /k/), and his dominant use of gliding sounds such as /w/. In the first stanza, for instance, the use of the soft and gentle /w/ is repeated numerous times. The final stanza has an soft lull to it, especially in the smooth alliteration of "dark and deep," along with the last two lines that are repeated as in the refrain of a musical piece.

Furthermore, images of black and white--there is absolutely no color in this poem--create a stark contrast that generates a feeling of darkness and the state of being alone. The one sound in the poem is also isolated in the snowy field with no building near: 

He [the horse] gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.

With the softest of sounds, a tone of rueful reflection, a lack of color, imagery suggesting coldness, and no sign of human life, Frost's verses each convey a sense of quiet and isolation in his skillfully written "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening."

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What do the woods symbolize in "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 and also carry some other meaning too, something that is not literal. The speaker of the poem finds the woods to be beautiful and enticing. He knows that he has a long way to go before he will be allowed to "sleep" and that he has many "promises to keep" before he can rest.

Nevertheless, the speaker is arrested by the visual image of the woods as they "fill up with snow" on the "darkest evening of the year." He also notes how quiet and serene the woods are, that the only sound, other than his horse shaking its harness bells, is the "easy wind" that blows the "downy flake" across the surface of the snow. The woods, he says, "are lovely, dark and deep," but he knows that he cannot stay here because of the "promises" that he is obligated to keep. Given these details, the woods seem to symbolize a place of respite. It may be that in comparison to the speaker's day-to-day life, full of "promises to keep," this haven of rest and quiet is calming and desirable.

Its is also possible that the woods represent the peacefulness of death; many readers interpret the speaker's reference to "sleep" as death—that he has a lot of work to do before he can die—and so, in this case, the woods could symbolize the calmness and quietness of eternal rest. These qualities are framed in a positive light in this context.

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What is "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost about?

Robert Frost did not write a poem called "Snowflake." Since you are posting the question under "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," you evidently meant this poem, which does speak about snowflakes. In the poem, a man and his horse have paused in their journey next to a frozen lake "to watch [the] woods fill up with snow." The scene is very quiet except for the shaking of the horse's harness bells and the "sweep of easy wind and downy flake." The man contemplates the peaceful scene as he realizes that he has "promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep."

Like many of Frost's poems, this poem has a literal meaning related to nature and a deeper metaphysical meaning that deals with truths about life and existence. The literal meaning is clear enough: A man stops for a moment on his journey to enjoy a beautiful and peaceful winter landscape. The deeper meaning is open to interpretation. Many have suggested that the poem speaks of a person's wish to die or even commit suicide--the idea being that the woods, described as "lovely, dark and deep," represent death and the man's attraction to them shows he wants to die. He knows, however, he has "miles to go before I sleep," meaning, much longer to live before he can die.

Others see the woods merely as a temporary escape from the demands of life, the responsibilities that are weighing the man down and that he must fulfill before he can "sleep," or rest from his duties. As much as the man would like to keep avoiding what he has to do, the call of the commitment he has made to others does not allow him to remain idle for very long. Another idea is to view the woods as any distraction, such as a siren song, that would lure one away from the path he is meant to take in life. 

Whatever the specific interpretation one prefers, the meaning is that if a person is to keep his promises, he must persevere despite distractions and temptations.

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