Snow Imagery in “Desert Places” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

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Robert Frost (1874- 1963). Robert Frost “was the most widely admired and highly honoured American poet of the 20th century (Eiermann).” Robert Frost was raised in rural New England where he grew a fond love for the outdoors and nature (Merriman). His love with nature elements has probably overwhelmed him so much that it has been reflected upon in many of his poems such as “The Tuft of Flowers,” “Reluctance,” and “Birches.” One of the nature imageries that have been used frequently by Robert Frost is the snow imagery. Although the snow imagery appears in many other poems by Frost we will be dealing with the poems “Desert Places” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Even though “Desert Places” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” share many qualities such as the common imagery of snow, the scene of the speaker travelling at night and the quantity of stanzas, they are as equally different or even more so. The speakers of the poems have different feelings towards the snow and on the area that they are in. As a consequence of the different feelings that the narrators have, the poems have different moods and themes. As a result the snow imagery in “Desert Places” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” causes the mood and theme of each poem to be significantly different. The snow imagery in “Desert Places” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” played an important role in creating the moods for each of the poems. In “Desert Places” the snow imagery conveys the feelings of depressing loneliness and emptiness. It is in the first stanza we are introduced to the setting of the poem. The speaker is outside at nightfall where the snow is falling fast. The speaker sees the field that is almost fully covered in snow. The only way the speaker is able to tell that it is a field from all the snow is the last “few weeds and stubble (Frost, Desert., line 4)”. When the speaker looks at the snow covered field, he sees the “blanker whiteness of (the) benighted snow (Frost, Desert., line 11)” the blankness symbolizes the speaker’s feelings and thoughts of his loneliness and the loneliness the surrounds him. The whiteness of the field creates an open, desolate, empty space that further enhances the poem’s mood of emptiness and loneliness for the reason because the field is now blank and empty and is smothered by loneliness. The speaker sees that the field has been taken over with emptiness and that the snow has left it “with no expression, nothing to express (Frost, Desert., line 12)” and the speaker becomes “absent spirited (Frost, Desert., line 7)”. The snowy imagery in the field of the poem establishes the mood of desolation and lonesomeness. In the other hand, the snow imagery in Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” conveys a completely different mood from the mood in “Desert Places.” The snow imagery in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” conveys the feeling of welcome, calm seclusion, and mysteriousness. The speaker of the poem arrives near the woods where he is lured to stop “to watch (his) (the) woods fill up with snow (Frost, Stopping., line 4)”. The speaker knows that they are not supposed to be there. His horse also knows that they aren’t supposed to be there, “he gives his harness bells a shake to ask if there is some mistake (Frost, Stopping., line 9-10)” for he knows that the woods is not their final destination. The fact that it is “the darkest evening of the year (Frost. Stopping., line 7)” it should alarm the speaker out of his trance with the snow but the speaker is fully mesmerized by the “easy wind and downy flake (Frost, Stopping., line 12)”. The characterization of the wind as “easy (Frost, Stopping., line 12)” and of the flakes as “downy (Frost, Stopping., line 12)” implies the speaker’s ability to appreciate the peace and softness of a gentle snowfall on a calm evening. It is also because of the mysteriousness of the woods being “lovely, dark, and deep (Frost, Stopping., line 13)”...
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