Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

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Stoppingby Woods on a Snowy Eveningby Robert Frost

RobertFrost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”communicates the main theme of life choices through symbolism in thelife of a mundane traveller. The same the persona is on a journey.He comes across woods belonging to a person he knows back in hisvillage. The “woods”, in this case, is a lonely abandoned place. The persona has the choice to stop in the woods or continue with hisjourney through the dark night since it is already late in theevening. The “woods” and the contrast the “Frost” creates tothe traveler symbolize the conundrum he faces. Nonetheless, thetraveller has to make a choice whether to stay or continue with thejourney. The poem creates a picture of a place that is partly wildand partly inhabited by human beings. The persona refers to thewoods as “lovely, dark, and deep”, which is quite ironicalbecause one would expect woods to be dangerous to walk in at night(Frost 192). The “lovely, dark, and deep” woods symbolize thelimits of life choices. One has to balance between the luxury andimportant issues due to the limits of real life.

Humanbeings often face situation where they have to make choices. Thechoices are usually based on the social norms, expectations, andhabits reinforced by pleasure or pain. People make choices based ontheir knowledge of the situation(s) they face. The persona in thepoem refers to the woods as “lovely” because they possibly have adeep understanding and familiarity with the place. The fact that hecould stop before them and be plunged into contemplation contradictsthe conventional thinking that woods are a wild, risky, and dangerousplace unknown to anyone.

Thepoem also embodies a vivid contradiction between beauty of nature andreality of life. The choices that human beings make in life are areflection civilization through such aspects as personal freedom,emotionality, rationality, and social responsibility. One’s choicecannot simultaneously strike a balance between the beauty of natureand reality of life. It must be a choice of either the former or thelatter. The first person voice of the personal also emphasizes theimportance of personal responsibility over the choices that onemakes. The reader identifies with a lone traveller along the samejourney. Frost uses simple diction and rhyme to reflect the evocativenature of rational choice.

Thetitle of the poem, “stopping by woods”, reflects the compulsivenature of choice. The traveller stops to appreciate awe and beautyof the “woods” on a cold “snowy evening”. The alliterationechoing the “O” sound connotes music, perhaps the singing birds,but there are possibly no birds because it is winter. The narratorhas to make the decision with some sense of personal motivationthrough music in his heart. Although the narrator in the pome has achoice to spend the night in “lovely, dark, and deep” woods, hecannot because has no “farmhouse near”(192). The conditions inthe woods are obviously unpleasant for horse and ironically pleasantfor the traveller. He should not, therefore, decide as if he is alonebecause the horse will carry him to the end of his journey.The woodsbelong to a person the writer knows, implying that he could betrespassing. The last words in the second line, “village though”,show that the narrator has a choice to stay because the owner has nosole claim of the “woods” that symbolize a brief escape from thediscomfort of reality (192).

Itis evident that the traveller has to make the rational choice ofcontinuing with journey. The last stanza shows that the eerie of hisimaginations only lasts for a while. He says, “The woods arelovely, dark, and deep/but I have promises to keep/and miles to gobefore I sleep” (193). The last lines point out that the reality oflife is far off human imagination but it does not prevent one fromenjoying beauty of thought. Regardless of the narrator’s longjourney ahead, he can afford to enjoy a brief moment of solitude awayfrom the reality. It is winter and the lakes are frozen with thickfrost in the dark night. However, the narrator enjoys the auditorysound from harness coupled with music from “The only other sound’sthe sweep/ of easy wind and downy flake” (193).

Inconclusion, the poem reflects the importance of making choices ineveryday life. Life has many challenges. It is like a journey filledwith instances where one has to transcend the challenges and brieflyescape into the beauty and wonder of nature. However, the briefmental escape should only be therapeutic without altering one’sability to make the best choices.


Frost,Robert. &quotStoppingby woods on a snowy evening.&quotAmerican Poetry and Prose (2009): 192-193.

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