illustration of a snowy forest with a cabin in the distance

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

by Robert Frost

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What rhyme scheme is used in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

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"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" comprises four stanzas, of which the first three have similar rhyme schemes. The first, second, and fourth lines all rhyme, while the third does not. This sound from the third line then follows through to the next verse, where it becomes the rhyme aaba, bbcb, ccdc. In the fourth stanza, all the lines rhyme, becoming dddd.

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When determining rhyme scheme, you need to examine the final word in each line of the poem. The last word in the first line is indicated by the letter a. If the final word in the second line rhymes with this word, it also gets a letter a. If it doesn't rhyme, it is indicated with a letter b. You proceed through the entire poem, matching rhyming words with matching letters. Thus, the rhyme pattern of this poem looks like this:

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


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

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

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, d
But I have promises to keep, d
And miles to go before I sleep, d
And miles to go before I sleep. d

It's also important to note that not all poems have a rhyme pattern; however, it's clear to see the visual pattern in "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." The third line in each stanza becomes the rhyming sound for the following stanza.

Poets create a particular rhyme pattern to achieve various effects, so it's worth considering how this rhyme scheme affects the poem as a whole. In this poem, the rhyme scheme mimics the halting and continuing patterns of the speaker. The third line, not matching the others in each stanza, gives a moment of pause before giving the poem momentum as it moves into the following stanza. This reflects the way the speaker halts in his journey before remembering the need to continue through these snow-filled woods. In the final stanza, no new rhyme pattern is introduced, which brings the poem to a sense of completeness. The repetition of the same sound in all four lines also emphasizes the hollowness in that long e sound, reflecting the speaker's own hollow darkness as he trudges forward with much to do before he can "sleep."

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Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" appears, at first glance, to be deceptively simple in its meter and rhyme scheme. Upon closer inspection, however, we can see that something more complex and clever is happening, with rhyme being used cleverly as a thread to connect the four stanzas of the poem.

All the stanzas of the poem conform to the same meter. Of the stanzas, the first three have similar rhyme schemes: the first, second, and fourth lines all rhyme, while the third does not. This sound from the third line then follows through to the next verse, where it becomes the rhyme aaba, bbcb, ccdc.

This serves to highlight the word from the previous stanza which has now provided the focal sound for the stanza to follow. For example, "here" in the first stanza is isolated and has no rhyming pair; in the second stanza, it is echoed in the line endings "queer," "near," and "year."

The effect of this continuity of sound from one stanza to the next is, of course, most keenly felt in the final stanza of the poem. In the fourth stanza, all the lines rhyme (dddd). The sound suggested in the third stanza by the word "sweep" is continued through into the fourth stanza, where it rhymes with "deep," "keep," and then, twice, "sleep."

The change in rhyme scheme here has a cumulative effect, which could be said to represent the increasingly "deep" snow as it falls. The repetition of the word "sleep," too, in combination with the gentle sound of "sweep," is sonorous and somnolent, drawing the poem to a quiet and sleepy conclusion.

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

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

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

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,         D
But I have promises to keep,                     D
And miles to go before I sleep,                   D
And miles to go before I sleep.                   D

The rhyme scheme in the first stanza is AABA. In the next stanza the poet picks up the B ("here") and the rhyme scheme for that stanza is BBCB. Then he picks up the C ("lake") and the rhyme scheme for the third stanza is CCDC. And the final stanza picks up the D ("sweep"). The final stanza is straight DDDD. The effect of this rhyme scheme seems to be to mimic the impression of gently falling snowflakes, and the final stanza seems to be intended to suggest the buildup of snow on the ground.

Of course, there is a great deal more to the poem than the impression of falling snowflakes, but the speaker does say that his purpose in stopping by these woods on a showing evening is to "watch his woods fill up with snow." So the reader may have the illusion of watching the falling snowflakes along with the speaker which is enhanced by the rhyme scheme. There is a definite falling effect in the AABA, BBCB, CCDC, and then an impression of deepening snow at the "bottom" of the poem. The snow is not falling heavily. The speaker describes the weather conditions as "easy wind and downy flake." The flakes are floating down slowly, and the rhyme scheme seems to suggest that familiar sight. The B in the first stanza might be considered a drifting snowflake which lingers throughout the second stanza, and so on. If the snow were falling heavily, the speaker probably would not have stopped there that night. 

The repetition of the words "And miles to go before I sleep" with the two D rhymes at the very end has suggested to some readers that the speaker is having sombre thoughts and might even be thinking of walking out into the beckoning woods and letting himself freeze to death. Frost repeatedly denied this. The thought that he has miles to go before he sleeps could also be interpreted to mean that he expects to have a long life ahead of him with many things he wishes to accomplish--which in fact was the case. He wrote the poem in 1922 and died in 1963. He was nearly eighty-nine years old.

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What are the meter and rhyme scheme of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

The rhyme scheme seems intended to suggest very subtly the look and feel of falling snow. For example, the first stanza's rhymes are AABA. Then the B is caught up in the second stanza and becomes the dominant rhyme in BBCB. And in the third line the C becomes dominant in CCDC. The only exception to this scheme is in the final stanza which rhymes DDDD, whereas we might expect it to be DDED. 

Why doesn't Frost rhyme AAAB, then BBBC, and CCCD, if he wants to suggest falling snowflakes? It would appear that he wants to "catch" the B and then "catch" the C, and so on, before it falls completely. If A can be visualized as a falling snowflake, then B would be a snowflake falling behind it--and so forth. Then when he gets to D in "sweep" in the third stanza, he repeats the D rhyme throughout the entire last stanza and even repeats the entire line: "And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep," in order to give the impression of finality. The falling snow has, in effect, piled up on the ground, and he is leaving the beautiful scene behind him. In other words, the DDDD represents, not falling snow, but fallen snow.

This is a lot to read into Frost's rhyme scheme, but it may help to explain the strong effect of this apparently simple short poem. We feel as if, with Frost, we have taken a few minutes out of our own lives to watch, and also to feel, the beautiful winter snow scene which everyone else in the world, including the man who owns the woods, is missing.

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What are the meter and rhyme scheme of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is written in a very deliberate meter and rhyming scheme. First, the meter is iambic tetrameter, meaning that each line is composed of four iambs, or "daDUM" syllables. This is clearly seen in the first lines of the poem:

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

Each line has a soft first syllable, then a hard second, repeating in this form four times per line. Written out, the first line would look like this:

Whose woods these are I think I know.

--with the syllabic stresses on each second syllable. This gives the poem a strong rhythmic structure and an internal beat.

The rhyme scheme follows the "Rubaiyat Stanza" structure, in which the second-to-last line in each stanza rhymes with the first two and fourth lines in the next stanza. This helps to link the stanzas through rhythm and a subconscious forward momentum, where the rhymes of the next stanza are predicted by the current one. This can be seen here:

He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

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

The rhymes of "here/queer/near/year" follow from the first stanza into the second, and the second stanza predicts the third with "lake." The only stanza that breaks this pattern is the last, which has no following stanza to predict; thus, the rhyme scheme is commonly depicted as "AABA-BBCB-CCDC-DDDD."

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What are the meter and rhyme scheme of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

You might also describe the rhyme scheme as: aaba, bbcb, ccdc, and dddd.

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What are the meter and rhyme scheme of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

The rhyme scheme is the first, second and fourth lines rhyming within each set of four lines in the poem.  The third line of the each section ends with a word that rhymes with the first, second and fourth lines of the next section.  The exception to this is the last set of four lines, which all rhyme.

The meter of the poem is four sets of two syllables in each line, the first unaccented and the second given more emphasis.  The stress pattern is called iambic meter; four repetitions of that meter is called tetrameter.  Hence, the technical description of the poem's meter would be iambic tetrameter.

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What is the rhyming and metric structure of Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," is one of Robert Frost's best known and best loved short poems. The simple narrative of a wintertime traveler on horseback who stops for a moment to watch snow fall in his neighbour's dusky woods has entranced readers for generations. A large part of that pleasure has to be in the unique - for poetry written in English - rhyming and metric structure on which the poet builds his recollected scenes. It is the usual practice in a poem constructed of four line stanzas of four feet (a quatrain) to rhyme the first with the third line and the second with the fourth. Even that much rhyme in English poems (the language being generally poor in rhymes) was too much for many poets; many of the ancient balladeers, for example, ceased their labours after rhyming the first and third lines. However, Frost who once defined freedom (poetic as well as moral) as "moving easy in harness," decided to write quatrains of three rhymes (aaba). Then, as if engaged in some kind of New England-style dare, set himself the truly herculean task of picking up the 'odd' rhyme in the following quatrain: Thus: bbcb and ccdc. Having set himself this difficult task, Frost was faced with having to 'tie up' the rhyming loose end in the final quatrain. He might have elected purely mathematical symmetry by rhyming the final 'odd' line with the dominant rhyme of the first quatrain, and thus confusing the reader with an anomalous rhyme. Instead, in a compositional act that can only be described as inspired, Frost repeated the penultimate line and rhyme of the poem. Working brilliantly within this self-imposed structure, Frost elucidated the deep meaning of the poem concealed behind its simple story.

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