Robert Frost's "Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening"

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  1. profile image0
    mbuggiehposted 4 years ago

    http://s1.hubimg.com/u/8611136.jpg
    In his 1923 poem, Robert Frost writes:

    "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."

    What "darkest evening" might Frost be referencing? Is this poem among the most enigmatic of Frost's works?

    1. Jodah profile image91
      Jodahposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      Robert Frost was one of the first poets I was introduced to in school. I love his poetry, but as most other respondents, i would assume 'this darkest evening' to be the Winter Solstice.

    2. profile image0
      Mklow1posted 4 years agoin reply to this

      "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."

      This is the end and I always got the impression that he had to do something he was not too pleased with, but due to it being a promise to someone important to him he did it anyway.

      In my mind he had to get his kid out of the drunk tank or something like that, but maybe I am projecting from my personal experiences as a wild child. lol

      1. Zelkiiro profile image95
        Zelkiiroposted 4 years agoin reply to this

        I see it more as a criticism of the busy modern world (as busy as it would've been in 1915, anyway). The narrator would love nothing more than to marvel at the world around him, but his obligations urge him to hurry forward. Also, the fact that he repeats the final line indicates a state of weariness, hinting that, even if he could stop and appreciate the beauty of the clearing, whatever he does for a living has left him so tired that he's probably about to collapse anyway, further urging him to keep said promises.

        1. profile image55
          blhoward94posted 2 years agoin reply to this

          I agree that the story is more along the lines of the speaker would just like to stop and take life in, but he is far too busy and cannot do that. He is indeed tired and would just like to rest, but again he cannot.

        2. profile image54
          bh3421posted 2 years agoin reply to this

          I agree that the poem could be a criticism of the modern world and civilization, however, I also think it contains a darker metaphor about death or something along those lines. I think that the last line indicates the things the speaker has to do before the end of his life and he doesn't have as much time as he'd like to admire nature. He wants to stop and appreciate the beauty of the woods on a snowy night but he has too many things to accomplish before he can do that.

  2. Zelkiiro profile image95
    Zelkiiroposted 4 years ago

    Oh God, Robert Frost is legendary. There is so much gorgeous imagery inherent in his poems that I can barely read them without being awestruck. Even after multiple reads.

    I'm pretty sure "the darkest evening of the year" refers to the Winter Solstice. Shortest day, longest night, after all.

    1. profile image0
      mbuggiehposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks for your comment!

      I sometimes wonder if the "darkest evening of the year" is not---at least for Frost, Christmas?

      1. Patty Inglish, MS profile image90
        Patty Inglish, MSposted 4 years agoin reply to this

        An English teacher in high school told us that it was the Winter Solstice. Tell us more about why Christmas was darkest.

        1. profile image0
          mbuggiehposted 4 years agoin reply to this

          The Solstice would be the longest---but not necessarily the "darkest" evening of any year.

          I suspect it is Christmas as part of a different reading of Frost; a reading that posits him as more dark in his visions of the world than the beauty of his words suggests.

          My sense is that "darkest" is not a comment on light, but on the things he mentions in the poem: obligations, promises, travel, distances, etc.

          Is it not Christmas that sometimes detaches us; that obliges us to promises that we need to keep even if we'd prefer to linger elsewhere?

          Just some thoughts.

          1. Patty Inglish, MS profile image90
            Patty Inglish, MSposted 4 years agoin reply to this

            That is interesting, although I have no idea what Frost's attitude toward Christmas was and I have never made those types of Christmas obligations or promises, so I'm clueless about them. A couple I know did go bankrupt from borrowing money each year to buy their wealthy relatives Christmas gifts, tho!-- Poverty is a pretty dark time.

  3. whonunuwho profile image73
    whonunuwhoposted 4 years ago

    Robert Frost is a wonderful character to serve as a role model for other writers. Thanks for sharing. whonu

    1. profile image0
      mbuggiehposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      Thank you!

  4. DzyMsLizzy profile image96
    DzyMsLizzyposted 4 years ago

    That is among my favorite poems.  I am partial to the line,
    "...Whose woods these are, I think I know..."

    The language of the poem obviously refers to a person who is absent from his house in the woods...but I've always preferred to believe that the "owner" of the woods is the beautiful timber wolf.  wink

    I, too, believe that the 'darkest evening of the year' refers simply to the Winter Solstice.

  5. profile image0
    Beth37posted 4 years ago

    My daughter had to memorize and recite this poem this year. She came home and said the whole thing by heart. I was so impressed, so it was kind of sweet for me to see it up on the screen.

    1. Patty Inglish, MS profile image90
      Patty Inglish, MSposted 4 years agoin reply to this

      How wonderful that she could memorize and recite the poem!

      1. profile image0
        Beth37posted 4 years agoin reply to this

        Yeah, she just kept going and going and going. lol. It's quite long if I remember correctly.

        Edit: Not too long. smile


        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.   

        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.   

        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.   

        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.

        1. Patty Inglish, MS profile image90
          Patty Inglish, MSposted 4 years agoin reply to this

          I heard lines of it recited by the Bobby Kennedy character in the film "Thirteen Days", meant to look it up, and never did.

          Thanks for reprinting the poem here so we can see the entire work!

          1. profile image0
            Beth37posted 4 years agoin reply to this

            Sure. smile

          2. profile image0
            Beth37posted 4 years agoin reply to this

            Sure. smile

        2. profile image0
          mbuggiehposted 4 years agoin reply to this

          The question is, I guess, why are kids made to memorize this particular poem. I was assigned the same task (memorizing this poem) almost 50 years ago.

          Thoughts?

          1. profile image0
            Beth37posted 4 years agoin reply to this

            It's a classic? It's made to look simple and it's actually a structured example of good poetry?

            1. profile image0
              mbuggiehposted 4 years agoin reply to this

              My sense is that in the act of memorization all meaning is lost---particularly in terms of poems.

              1. DzyMsLizzy profile image96
                DzyMsLizzyposted 4 years agoin reply to this

                I would tend to agree, mbuggieh.

                The endless repetition renders the words into mere noises after a while.  Of course, for some, memorization may come more easily.  For me, it does not.  I do not even have any of my own poetry memorized, let alone famous works.
                That is why I so enjoyed being in the comedy improv troupe rather than a regular stage play:  no lines to memorize--just pop off with whatever came to mind within the topic!  wink

          2. GA Anderson profile image81
            GA Andersonposted 4 years agoin reply to this

            hmmm... is your question a trap?

            Ok. I'll bite.

            The why is because it is a simple yet emotional masterpiece.

            I would pose an opposing question.

            Can anyone read such a piece without being emotionally impacted? No gimmicks No fancy-smancy poetic structure to appreciate or applaud.

            And lastly, doesn't it paint a mental picture that almost everyone can see and understand?

            If it is not obvious, Frost is one of the few "acclaimed" poets that I think deserves his "acclaimed status.

            I too was forced to read him in school, (and I did not appreciate him then). But I do now, and no one has to force me to reread him whenever I stumble across his works.

            kudos to the OP for this thread.

            ps. it never occurred to me to question what he meant by "darkest night" - I got the picture without needing to analyze it. I think dissecting his work lessens its value to the reader.

            GA

  6. profile image53
    Bailey Greyposted 2 years ago

    When I first read this poem I did not seem to grasp the depth it had, it was merely a poem to me. However after reading through it a few times certain things began to pop out at me. For example, the mentioning of the owner of the woods the traveler is trekking through. I wonder why Frost mentioned the owner of the woods. Is he perhaps the one the traveler made a promise to? And why is he not there to witness the traveler walking through his woods, besides the obvious that his house is in the village? Does he not know the traveler is out tonight?

    Robert Frost is an amazing poet and the imagery he uses in this poem creates a stillness in the reader as if they were out there in the woods with the traveler and weary of the miles ahead.

 
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