- Books, Literature, and Writing
Robert Frost Winter Poems
"Whose woods these are I think I know..." I found myself reciting those words (again) on a light, bright winter night when sun bounced off snowflakes and darkness didn't come. Recently, my city found itself en-swirled in a snowstorm that it was ill equipped to handle. Despite chains, the bus was beached (so to speak) north of my home; I walked for about a mile and a half, cutting through woods and getting home just about the time that my hands stiffened and grew clumsy.
We experience it less often these days -- that mixture of cold and vulnerability and frosted otherworldly beauty. If we step back in time to the early part of the 20th century, though, those things were part of people's daily lives -- and we find them reflected in the poetry.
This page is devoted to Robert Frost winter poems, many of which hark back to that era. It is designed with the teacher in mind. You'll find audio, analysis, and teaching resources. Step with me into a frosty long ago winter, or a lifetime of them...
"Dust of Snow" has been chosen as a Common Core exemplar text for students in the fourth and fifth grade band. It is a challenging text. (Can student's identify the speaker's mood? Can they speculate about what he was experiencing in the moments before the snow fluttered down from the tree?)
There are two words young students will likely not be familiar with: 'hemlock' and, more central to the meaning, 'rued'. Children will hopefully have enough context to determine that a hemlock is a kind of tree -- and be able to infer that rued is something negative. If one needs something to save a day they've rued, that word must signify something negative indeed!
There are Common Core lesson plans available for Frost's "Dust of Snow" and Sandburg's "Frost" (two poems that can be effectively paired together).
If you scroll down to additional resources, you'll find a link to an additional lesson plan written at the elementary level.
Poems can be interpreted in such different ways; I may take the minority view on this one. I first read "Wind and Window Flower" as almost literal -- a bit of "horticultural melodrama" I termed it. I have since seen interpretations that have the wind and window flower standing for human lovers.
I keep coming back to my original read, though, of a playful, personified look at the winter season. Part of the reason is the general tone of the poem: melodramatic but playful. Another is the opening lines, "Lovers, forget your love, and list to the love of these..." If it was about a boy and a girl from different walks of life, why should we forget our own loves to listen, awe-struck, to the tale? That tale is already around us everywhere, in pop culture as well as life. Indeed, many readers will recognize elements of the tale in their own life. But a tale of love between, literally, a wind and a flower? Now that is different, and might indeed our rivet attention if we will suspend for a moment our disbelief...
Wind and Window Flower Text
- Poem text - Scribd
You can not only read the tale of the wind and window flower, but print it out on Scribd.
But What Do You Think?
Is "Wind and Window Flower" about human lovers, or nature?
It's about lovelorn humans.
Now Close the Windows
Now close the windows
And hush all the fields...
This is a poem about hunkering down for the winter. We get a sense of the bleakness of winter, but also a hint of the more comfortable winter that can be found inside. In the closing lines, the narrator suggests looking out the window at that wind-tossed world.
Like most of the poems on this page, it is set to pictures of Seattle. It can be fun to add your own spin to poems... and your own photos to make a truly personalized rendition.
"Birches" is a narrative poem that seems to draw from childhood memory.
When I see birches bend to the left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them...
Birches (Musical Version)
A lot of Robert Frost's poems have been set to music. What do you think of this version of "Birches"?
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening - Audio and Text
This was one of the first poems I recorded, and there is an effect that was accidental, but that I rather like. The poem was recorded directly into the netbook microphone as opposed to the Logitech set. I might have chosen to re-record it had it not somehow seemed to capture the voice quality of a windy winter night.
Stopping By Woods (Child Reciting)
"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is a good first piece for a child. It was the first poem I ever recited, at seven. Here we find another child about that age reciting.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening (Text and Resources)
Poetry Out Loud: Robert Frost
Poetry Out Loud holds a poetry contest for ninth through twelfth graders. Students must recite works from the anthology. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is among the selections.
- Robert Frost Selections
Five Robert Frost poems are offered as choices.
When shoeing home across the white,
I thought I saw a bird alight...
Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter is as much about what the narrator doesn't see as what he does. The opening lines give us a dismal, if slightly humorous, portrait of winter. Frost builds up the sense of wonder at this supposed bird and allows up to feel a bit of that disappointment that, no, it's not a bird after all. It appears that Frost is not just looking for, but longing for, that bird. All in all, it's a clever -- and indirect -- expression of Frost's attitude toward the seasons.
Additional Resources - Including Printable Text and Lesson Plans
- Artist's interpretation of "A Winter Eden"
Snow falling on apples... this artist has titled her work "A Winter Eden" and posted to Flickr.
- A Winter Eden Text
On Poemhunter -- you can click to make the copy print-friendly.
- Text of Looking for a Sunset Bird in Winter
On Famous Poets and Poems.com.
- Now Close the Windows Text
Printable text, from Poemhunter.
- Dust of Snow Lesson Plan
Literary lesson plan for grades 3 and 4.
A Robert Frost Christmas
Robert Frost's famous poem "Christmas Trees" was originally sent out as a letter. It is a cleverly written account of Frost's encounter with a businessman who wants to buy his expanse of trees for a paltry sum. Frost captures the outrageousness of the offer with lines like "worth three cents more to give away than to sell".
Robert Frost wasn't completely against the cutting down of a tree, though, to spread some Christmas cheer. "Christmas Trees" has some harsh criticism of aspects of our society, but it ends on a gentle note -- with the wish that he could send one tree in his letter.
"Christmas Trees" was made into a limited edition chapbook/ card.
The Robert Frost Christmas Card Tradition
"Christmas Trees" was the first. A number of other Frost poems were turned into limited edition Christmas cards. Collections exist, and you do also find individual cards for sale -- but signed ones have gotten expensive.
- Real Clear Arts
This article focuses on a 2009 exhibition but also discusses other resources, noting that the University of Maryland has a collection and cards occasionally do go on sale on eBay.