Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Introduction
by Robert Frost

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So you’re going to teach Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Whether it’s your first or hundredth time, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” has been a mainstay of English classrooms for generations. While it has its challenging spots—troubling subject matter, ambiguous language—teaching this poem to your class will be rewarding for you and your students. Studying “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” will give them unique insight into one of the most influential poems in American literature, the poet who penned it, and the powerful techniques he used. This guide highlights some of the most salient aspects of the text before you begin teaching.

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Facts at a Glance

  • Publication Date: 1923
  • Recommended Grade Levels: 6th and up 
  • Approximate Word Count: 100 
  • Author: Robert Frost 
  • Country of Origin: United States 
  • Genre: Lyric Poetry 
  • Literary Period: Modernism 
  • Conflict: Person vs. Nature, Person vs. Self 
  • Narration: First-Person 
  • Setting: New England 
  • Structure: Lyric Poetry, Iambic Tetrameter, Dramatic Monologue 
  • Tone: Pensive, Dreamlike, Wintry

Texts That Go Well With "Stopping by Woods"

“Because I could not stop for Death” (1890), by Emily Dickinson, is another touchstone of American poetry. Like Frost, Dickinson writes in a supple common meter, crafting quatrains whose simplicity of diction belies a deep complexity and ambiguity. Unlike Frost, Dickinson handles the topic of death directly, although she dresses “Death” in the guise of a gentleman traveler, forcing readers to confront it afresh. 

“The Darkling Thrush” (1900), by Thomas Hardy, evokes through gorgeous language a bleak winter landscape. Like Frost, Hardy employs the winter scene as a figure for death. However, unlike the narrowly personal frame of Frost’s poem, Hardy brings a sweeping historical sensibility to the poem. The winter landscape is not a figure for interior experience, but rather for the end of a human epoch, “the century’s corpse outleant.” 

The Divine Comedy (1320), by Dante Alighieri, demonstrates a masterful and expansive use of chain rhyme. For the composition of his epic poem, Dante invented the terza rima form, comprised of tercets whose rhymes weave and chain together...

(The entire section is 550 words.)