Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

In my last post, I mentioned the snow is flying where I live. It snowed most of last night, and we woke to 5 or 6 inches of fresh, powdery snow. Keeping with the theme of snow, I thought I’d post a favorite Robert Frost poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

This poem has an interlocking Rubaiyat form, which I’ve described in another post. The narrative of Frost’s poem is simple: the speaker is on his way home and pauses with his horse to watch the snow fall in woods owned by an acquaintance. Given this mundane scene, the almost confessional reflection of the speaker in the last stanza is abrupt and striking:

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.

The beauty of the scene seems to evoke longing in the speaker: longing for rest and release from the day’s obligations. The longing might also be more existential than that—a longing for release from the burdens of this life and for final rest.

While it isn’t completely clear what the speaker is feeling, he only indulges it for a moment before (reluctantly) putting his hand back to the plow of the day’s work and life itself.

“Stopping by Woods on a Snow Evening” is a short poem of four stanzas and well worth a minute to read. (Though thinking about it might last more than a minute!) If you read it and have any thoughts of your own about Frost’s imagery, please comment below.

Published by mrteague

Teague McKamey lives in Washington state with his wife and two children. Teague’s poetry has appeared in several journals and in self-published books. He blogs at thevoiceofone.org and awanderingminstrel.com. In all areas of life, Teague desires that Christ may be magnified in his body (Php. 1:20).

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