Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

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The circumstances surrounding the composition of Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" explain his use of "The darkest evening of the year" (L.8) which is closely related it to the greater theme of perseverance in the face of hardship.

Frost wrote this poem, in November(Frost Chronology) 1923; on the same late night he finished his book New Hampshire (Jackson sec. 1). Being "a little excited from getting over-tired"(qtd. in Jackson sec. 3), he decided to venture out into the wilderness, probably to calm down. Frost hitched his horse to a sleigh and left on his journey to eventually find the "Woods" in this poem. Being in an "autointoxicated"(qtd. in Jackson sec. 3) state, Frost was mesmerized by the scene of the woods beside the frozen lake. He eventually broke out of his trance, possibly with the aid of his horse, by thoughts of prior commitments. The former statement is shown in the text by: "He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake"(L.L. 9-10) and the latter by: "But I have promises to keep And miles to go before I sleep"(L.L. 13-14). According to Frost, upon his return home, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" "was written in a few minutes without any strain"(qtd. in Jackson sec. 1). Therefore, Frost wrote this poem about himself and his journey.

Literally, "The darkest evening of the year"(L.8), refers to the winter equinox on December 21st. But, if thought of symbolically, this line could be the culmination of difficult work, by the author, to finish his book New Hampshire. Furthermore the equinox aspect of "The darkest evening of the year"(L.13) symbolizes the transition, from the writing of a new book to its realization. Therefore, the meaning "The darkest evening of the year"(L.8) is dual even if the poem was not written in December 21st.

In and of itself, the poem is an extended metaphor for perseverance. The reader only realizes this after having finished reading the poem...
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