A Snowy Evening with Robert Frost: Poem Analysis

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A Snowy Evening with Robert Frost
Robert Frost once said, “It begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a loneliness. It is never a thought to begin with. It is at best when it is a tantalizing vagueness.” (“Poetry Foundation” n.d.). This poem holds a lot of mystery in its meaning which has a variety of interpretations. John T. Ogilvie who wrote, “From Woods to Stars: A pattern of Imagery in Robert Frost’s Poetry” interprets this as a poem about the journey through life. James G. Hepburn who wrote, “Robert Frost and His Critics” took a different approach. He believes this poem to be about the aesthetics and moral action. This poem contains a variety of literary devices that not only describe the scenery but also the scene itself. Despite its critics who believe this poem to be about the scenery and moral action, Robert Frost’s poem is best understood as a journey through life, because its literary design allows many to have interpreted it this way.

“To watch his woods fill up with snow” “To stop without a farm house near/ Between the woods and frozen lake/ The darkest evening of the year.” “The only other sound’s the sweep/ Of easy wind and downy flake.” “The woods are lovely, dark and deep,” (842-843). The description of the woods is seductive because of the rhyme scheme, AABA/BBCB/CCDC/DDDD. Robert Frost has made comments about the form of this poem, “a series of almost reckless commitments I feel good in having guarded it so. [It is]…my heavy duty poem to be examined for the rime pairs.” (Frost on Stopping by Woods N.D.). The English language is not as rhyme friendly as other languages such as Italian or French. The English language is a melting pot of many different languages limiting the amount of words that rhyme. As John Ciardi says, “In ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ Frost took a long chance. He decided to rhyme not two lines, but three in each stanza. Not even Frost could have sustained that much rhyme in a long poem.” (Ciardi, How Does a Poem Mean?). This allows the reader to be hypnotized by the rhythm Frost has created. By repeating the ‘o’ sound, ‘though’ also starts the series of rhymes that will soon get the better of the reader. For example this is seen clearly in the opening lines of the poem, “Whose woods these are I think I know. / His house is in the village though; / He will not see me stopping here/ to watch his woods fill up with snow/.” (842). As the reader begins to recognize the pattern of the poem it guides them into the same drowsy feeling as the narrator is experiencing. James G. Hepburn, who wrote “Robert Frost and His Critics,” says, “Each of the first three stanzas begins flatly; each rises, with the last line or two lines, towards the spell; but not until the end of the third stanza is the rise powerful, and not until the opening of the fourth and final stanza is the rise sustained rather than broken.” So from the above lines and evidence we can interpret these lines as follows. The narrator is most likely returning home from some errand that took him far away from his home. He is riding his horse late at night or late day and has stumbled upon some beautiful scenery. This is when he decides to stop and take in everything that he is seeing. When the narrator first stopped in the woods he has a good idea of whose land this is, which is stated in the first two lines.

Rueben A. Bower who wrote, “The Poetry of Robert Frost: Constellations of Intention” says, “The very tentative tone of the opening line lets us into the mood without quite sensing where it will lead, just as the ordinariness of ‘though’ at the end of the second line assures us that we are in the world.” Robert Frost did not start this poem with the magical whimsy of the woods but instead with the mood they contain (Hepburn 1962) “Whose woods these are I think I know. / His house is in the village though; / He will not see me stopping here/ to watch his woods fill up with snow/.”...
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