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Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost
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.
This is a sixteen line poem, consisting of four 4 line stanzas, written in iambic tetrameter, with an AABA rhyme scheme for each of the first three stanzas. The fourth stanza has an AAAA rhyme scheme.
This short poem tells the story of a person who rides a horse to a remote woods and stops to watch the snow falling. Within the simple story is a sense of tension between the description of the lovely image of quiet snow falling on trees and the foreboding reminders of the narrator’s isolation and unknown obligations.
The ambiguity makes it great. This is a choose-your-own-adventure poem. The reader is given the choice to read into the words whatever meaning he or she wants. Is the poem a metaphor for death? Is the rider at the beginning of a long and interesting journey? We do not know. The power of the words that Frost gives us is such that we do not need to know. He trusts us to decide the meaning ourselves each time we sit astride our horse between the woods and the frozen lake.