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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Who owns the woods in Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"?

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The opening lines of this poem have the narrative character speculating on who owns the woods. The main point of this speculation is to inform the reader that the woods are not the narrator’s, but rather simply territory through which he is passing on his way home. The lines tell us these woods do not belong to a working rural landowner, but instead are the property of a (presumably well-off) village-dweller, not a working farmer or lumberman. These details, in Frost’s time, meant there were financial “classes” of society separated by wealth – owners vs. workers. We know little else in detail about the owner, but the general tenor of the poem, with its underlying note of appreciation for beauty and tranquility, suggests to the reader that there is a contrast in aesthetic appreciation between the classes, also. Readers also know little about the narrator—is he a farm owner, a traveling merchant, a working man?

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In "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," what does the poet say about the owner of the woods?

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is a melodic poem by Robert Frost that focuses on the captivating power of nature. As he rides his horse, he encounters an especially lovely area of woods and stops to watch the snow falling. This section of the poem provides clues about the owner's identity:

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.

We know that the narrator knows the owner loosely. The owner not only holds possession of this land but also has a house "in the village," suggesting that he has a fair amount of wealth.

There is also something about this owner's personality that makes the narrator a bit nervous to potentially be caught on his property, evidenced in the line "He will not see me stopping here." This tone is further impacted by the cold, dark setting, so this line seems a bit ominous, particularly when paired with the first lines in the third stanza: "He gives his harness bells a shake/ To ask if there is some mistake."

Although this is a naturally serene scene, the tone doesn't feel quite the same, so there is a contrast between the calmness of nature and what could be expected if this owner suddenly appears.

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In "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," what does the poet say about the owner of the woods?

The entire first stanza of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” refers to the owner of the woods where the narrator has stopped to watch the falling snow. “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.” At the very least, we learn that the property owner does not live on the premises, out here in the country. He lives in the village instead. This could imply that he doesn’t care much about what goes on in his woods – for good or for bad. The narrator knows that no one will wonder about what he’s doing. No one will come rushing out a door and ask him to explain himself. The owner and the narrator must not be friends, or even mere acquaintances. Does one have a higher social standing than the other? I think you could make an argument either way.

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