Response to the Poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost

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Response to the Poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost

This is one of my favorite poems, and every time I read it, I find something I haven't noticed before, especially the conflict that the author portrays. It is said that this poem was written about an early period of personal frustration, and the contemplation of suicide. But I believe there are several ways to look at it. The meaning of the narrator's response to the woods is caught in the contrast between the relaxed, conversational idiom of the first three lines, and the dream-like descriptive detail and hypnotic flowing of the last few lines. Clearing and wilderness, law and freedom, civilization and nature, fact and dream are the oppositions that recurred throughout the poem. Frost develops his own quiet contrast between the road along which the narrator travels with his horse, and the white silence of the woods, where none of the ordinary limitations of the world seem to apply. The reader of this poem also seems caught in the hidden comparison between the owner of these woods, who apparently regards them as a purely financial investment (he lives in the village) and the narrator who sees them, at least potentially, as a spiritual one.

There is also some conflict evident between the narrator and his horse. There is the same response to the narrator's horse which, like any practical being, wants to get on down the road to food and shelter, in which you want the narrator to agree. The narrator himself, however, continues to be lured by the mysteries of the forest. The poem communicates its debate in how it says things as much as in what it says. So, the dark words and abrupt movements of lines like, 'He gives his harness bells a shake / To ask if there is some mistake', give a verbal shape to the matter-of-fact attitude portrayed from the horse, just as the soothing syllable and gentle rocking motion of the lines that follow this 'The only other...
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