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Robert Frost, USA (1874-1963)


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 sounds 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.


Robert Frost wrote "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" in 1922, two years before winning the first of his four Pulitzer Prizes. The poem tells the story of a man traveling through some snowy gardens on the darkest evening of the year, and he's pretty much in love with what he sees around him. He's on his way back to town, but he can't quite tear himself away from the lovely and dark woods. 


Robert Frost is one of the famous American romantic writers. The present poem,' Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening' is one of the best-known poems by Frost. Romantic writers write on the theme of ‘Nature’. For them, nature is god, a teacher and has both capacities to create and destroy. This is a very short poem consisting of four stanzas where Frost presents a beautiful landscape of snowy evening. He begins his poem with an indirect question: whose woods are these? The answer is vivid that the wood belongs to the God himself. The capitalization of the pronoun ‘He’ also makes us easy to understand the fact that the owner of the wood is God. The speaker of the poem is riding on a horse. He is a traveler. In fact, he is on his way of certain destination but the beauty of snowy environment makes him stop his horse and see the beauty of nature. He is sure that the owner of the wood would not see him. Therefore, he can get the pleasure of the beauty as much as he wishes. At the same time, he looks at his horse and finds it as sensible as a man. He believes that the horse must have been surprised finding him stopping in such dark snowy environment in the midst of the forest. His horse shakes the bell to make him continue the journey. In the final stanza, when the bell of the horse makes him aware of his aim constantly, the poet leaves the beautiful and sublime place and continues his journey. The poet further informs us that the beauty of the very place was lovely, dark and deep but at the same time, he has so many responsibilities and obligations to fulfill before he goes to sleep i.e. his death. Hence, he cannot enjoy that beauty of the forest any longer as we, human beings can’t do. In the poem, the poet describes about his journey. It is an evening. He is riding a horse. He is alone in the deep and dark forest. The snow is falling. There is not any house nearby. The lakes are frozen and he does not hear any sound except snow falling and the wind. On the way through the beautiful forest, he is enchanted by the natural setting. So he stops his horse to enjoy with this environment. The horse rings its bell. It feels strange because there are not any houses or men then he feels that he has to go miles ahead before he sleeps. So he decides to continue his journey.

This poem may be trying to say that duty is more important than any things else. We have to carry our duty even if we feel it difficult. We will not have only enjoyment but will also have bitter moments in our lives. We must face those happiness and tragedy until we live in the world. We cannot avoid them because they are attached to our lives. 'Stopping by Woods a Snowy Evening' is a natural poem composed by Robert Frost. In this poem the poet has described how a man gets impressed by beautiful natural sight.
The poet is on his way home on his house in the snowy evening. There is a beautiful forest on the way and he stops the horse and himself to see its peace and beauty. The breeze and downy lake have added beauty to the peaceful forest. Being night there's no one to break this silence. Horse feels surprised for being stopped. There is not a farm house nearby and the darkness is growing. Now the poet can't stop more because he has promised to reach his goal before he sleeps.


The speaker of the poem is actually a representation of real human being. In reality, all of us are traveler in our life. It begins right from our birth and ends with our last breath. The forest is also symbolic here because it indicates the various attractive, luring events of our life, which try to make us forget our duty and responsibilities and enjoy our life on our own way. Similarly, the horse symbolizes the consciousness of the speaker’s mind. Whenever we meet something beautiful or pleasant events of our life, we become unconscious and tend to forget the tasks to our family, friends and the society. What reminds us our duty is certainly our conscious mind! In fact, all of us have the miles to go before we meet our ultimate friend death. Hence, the poem is a capable of presenting the beauty of nature on the one hand and the factual history of each human being on the other. The poet may be trying to tell us that peace and beauty can't be separated from life. Sometimes one can find unexpected peace and beauty on the way of one's long journey of life. In spite of the long journey, one stops to see the natural beauty. But one has to move to fulfill one's promise or responsibility before death. Responsibility is more important, lack and one should even neglect other things for the sake of duty and responsibility. In this poem the poet talks about sense of beauty and sense of duty. The poem is about human life and duty. Human life is full of obstacles and hardships. But one must be patient and courageous to overcome this to fulfill the promise of his/her life. If one fails to understand such aspect of life, he/she can never get success in his/her life. The poem can be interpreted symbolically by addressing such aspect which always tried to divert the human from their way of life. But man being conscious of it should continue his pace of life forgetting everything.

Critical Thinking:

Though the poem is able to capture the beauty of nature, it also raises some questions as we go through the poem. Life is to be lived and enjoyed but Robert Frost defines it only with the duties and responsibilities. Is our life just to travel miles after miles? Is not it to take some relaxation be in the lap of nature and feel the eternity? Of course it is. Similarly, the poet has looked the life in one perspective only. Nature is not the only beautiful things that everyone desires. There are other several products of modern science and technology which have become an inseparable part of modern world. They have become a source of entertainment and Frost does not talk on this fact. Frost makes an animal, horse, more intelligent than human being. Has a modern man become so dull that he needs an animal to remind his aim? Certainly not. Despite these questions, the poem is sweet, melodious and appealing. Natural beauty gives real pleasure to the spectators. But can beauty and peace disturb all people when they are making a long journey in a hurry? Do all people keep their promises? Can a man enjoy the beauty and peace in the snowing night when the chilly wind is blowing? Do all people fulfill their duty and responsibility before death? Can animal feel as human beings? can a man enjoy the peace and beauty in the dark if he is in a hurry? So, I couldn't totally agree with the poet. So far the poem talks about the human life and duty, it is very impressive. But in many respects, the speaker fails to give very convincing incidence such as how does the writer feel stopping at the lonely woods? Here the horse is shown as if it were giving information about the harshness of the climate. Is it possible for the horse to notice and inform about it? How does one travel along the path alone which is full of falling snow?


I visited Pokhara last year. It was the first time I had been in my maternal uncle’s home. The panoramic view of nature nourished my heart. The flight of the birds in the open, clean sky made me forget the essence of zoo in my hometown, Kathmandu. The reflection of Machhapuchhre in the crystal water of Phewa lake made me contemplate on the beauty of the Kailash Parvat, the abode of the Lord Shiva. The clear and fresh water of the streams provided a new energy in my veins. I wished I could live in such jocund company of nature longer. At the same time, my exam was approaching and I was forced to return Kathmandu and do my duties of preparing for the examination.

Nature really changes the mind of human being. There is a beautiful hill above my house. Last year I went to celebrate dashain festival with my family. On the way the bus broke down and I was late by three hours. When I reached the hill, it was twilight. I saw many beautiful scenes on the hill and I even forgot where I was going. The birds were twittering and a gentle air was blowing. I was a bit tired. It was getting dark. Although I would enjoy seeing the scene, I had to walk till three hours to reach home. At last, I left the beautiful scene and went home.

ANALYSIS (For the Teacher):

The poem is set in the woods and the speaker here is the stranger who stopped there, admiring what his eyes saw, the beautiful view. In the opening stanza, the poet wonders about owner of the woods and thinks he knows him. The stranger is in the woods and has a horse who thinks its weird that its owner has stopped in a place that does not have a farmhouse, but a place that is in between the woods and the frozen lake. The woods are cold, dark, silent, lifeless and deep. He is the only person there and can hear the “sweep of easy wind and downy flake”. The stranger wants to stay there but he cannot since he has to go back, to where he came from.

There are many symbols in this poem that have ascertain (find out) meaning to it. The woods represent journey in life, but since its winter the trees are bare that give a sad image. The horses’ bell brings back the stranger to reality and make him conscience of the surrounding. There is a conflict in a sense that the winter represents sadness but the snowflakes show happiness. 

The theme revolves around the poet’s philosophy, the stranger here is really sad and would love to stay in the woods where he is all alone (except the horse) away from the rest of the world. He has to decide whether he should just end there or get back to his responsibilities. We know this because he says “the woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep.” He has to decide between temptation and his responsibilities.

In conclusion, the poet tries to tell us that everyone in life has their shares of ups and downs, and many are tempted to end their lives but then there are more important things in our life, like our responsibilities towards certain things.


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