Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

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  • Topic: Poetry, Stanza, Possessive adjective
  • Pages : 3 (982 words )
  • Download(s) : 402
  • Published : November 19, 2008
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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know a
His house is in the village though a
He will not see me stopping here b
To watch his woods fill up with snow a

My little horse must think it queer b
To stop without a farm-house near b
Between the woods and the frozen lake c
The darkest evening of the year b

He gives his harness bells a shake c
To ask if there is some mistake c
The only other sound is the sweep d
Of easy wind and downy flake c

The woods are lovely, dark and deep d
But I have promises to keep d
And miles to go before I sleep d
And miles to go before I sleep d

In his book Stylistics and the Teaching of Literature (1975), Henry Widdowson describes the poem as a unique act of communication and a way language is patterned to create a unique message. “Patterns” are the product of repeated occurrences of linguistic forms, each pattern realizing a theme. The pattern Widdowson discerns in the first stanza of the poem is manifested by the “preponderance of pronominal forms”. He sees particular significance in the fact that the possessive adjective “his” occurs twice and “whose” once, leading him “to surmise that the theme of the poem as a whole has something to do with possession as well as something to do with the woods” (Widdowson, 1975, p.118). The possessive adjectives in the second and third stanzas (“my little horse”, “his harness bells”) also signal the theme of possession. Here Widdowson detects the introduction of another and contrasting theme. “Easy” in the phrase “easy wind” and “downy” in “downy flake” refer to intrinsic properties. “We might say that, in the second and third stanzas, the woods, the wind and the falling snow are seen as symbolizing a natural freedom from constraint, a world apart from that which is circumscribed by a human system of rights and obligations” (Widdowson, 1975, pp. 119-20). Both themes appear in the last stanza:

Just as the wind is naturally easy, so the woods...
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