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Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

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Topics: Poetry
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October 1, 2013 Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is an easy to read, relaxing, dream-like poem. It evokes the vision of a quiet, dark night and the peacefulness that is experienced while simply sitting quietly in the country woods and watching the winter snow fall. The poem conveys the difference between the peaceful solitude and quietness of the country and the more hectic city filled with people and the obligations that need to be tended to in town. Frost describes a lot of opposites in this poem. In lines one and two of the first stanza of the poem he uses the words “woods” and” village” to show the difference in the environment. He also makes you envision the startling sound of the horse’s harness bells in comparison to the soothing, quiet sound of the wind blowing the snow in the third stanza of the poem. In the last stanza of the poem he explains that the woods are beautiful, dark, and quiet with no obligations, as opposed to the busy village where he has business to attend to. These opposites lend to the torn feeling that the man feels between the peace of the woods and the obligations he has in the village. The form of the poem is iambic tetrameter. It has a very regular rhythm and it flows very well. The calming, rhythmic nature of Frost’s poem moves very smoothly, with no harsh sounds, and this helps to express the mellow mood of the speaker as he observes the tranquility of the woods. It flows so well that it is almost like a song. Each line has eight syllables with every other word syllable being stressed. An example of this is in the first line of stanza one: "Whose woods these are I think I know” (Frost 607).
The poem’s rhyme scheme is AABA. An example of this is the last words from lines one, two, and four of the first stanza which are “know,” “though,” and ”snow.” The poem continues with the last word of line three of the first stanza rhyming with lines one, two, and four of the second stanza which are “here,” “queer,” “near,” and “year.” This rhyming continues throughout the poem, with the exception of the last stanza, which is another reason it flows so well. The symbolism of this poem can be seen in several places. The dark, quiet, peaceful woods are a symbol of the peace and quiet that the man enjoys so much. He is so mesmerized by the sight of the woods and the frozen lake that he stops his horse on his way to the city to take in its tranquility and beauty. The snow seems to fall very easily and the darkest evening of the season is not disturbed by the light of the businesses and houses in the village. The spot in the woods gives him a place of solitude, which he is craving.
The village symbolizes a place of quickly moving people, noise, and of the everyday obligations that the man has to attend to. It is a place where he will not be able to be by himself and where he will experience the pressure and monotony of his life. His monotonous life is made clear in the first and second lines of the third stanza when he states “He gives his harness bells a shake / To ask if there is some mistake.” (Frost 608) He is explaining that his horse shakes his harness bells to draw attention to the fact that it is unusual for them to stop along the trail to town. The trip is usually made without any stops or interruptions, which would cause the trip to be very monotonous for the horse and the speaker.
Frost’s poem is a beautiful, calming poem that helps people to realize that they need to slow down and enjoy the beauty in nature. Nature can have such a calming effect on someone and can break up the monotony of everyday life. Being alone on the darkest night of the year, along a beautiful path through the woods, near a frozen lake is a vision that is almost like a dream. It’s peaceful, quiet atmosphere and gently blowing snow is a sharp contrast to life in the village where there are lights, houses, noise, and business that detract from the beauty and calmness of nature. The village also signifies responsibility and interaction with people which would lend to a hectic, bothersome life. This poem would be helpful in today’s society by encouraging people to sit back and reevaluate their lives. To slow down and enjoy nature instead of just passing it by on a daily basis. This poem also makes a reader appreciate the small, beautiful things that are all around and that seem very insignificant at times. It would do us all good to sit back and “smell the roses” occasionally instead of “running the daily rat race.”

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