Robert Frost: Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

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.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

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

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

(1923)

About this poem:

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” was Frost’s favorite of his own poems. In a letter to Louis Untermeyer he called it “my best bid for remembrance.” On “the darkest evening of the year”, the winter solstice (21 December), he pauses to enjoy the “world of the woods”, with its peace and solitude, which exists side by side with that other “world of people and social obligations”. Both worlds have claims on the poet, are “established and balanced“. A metaphysical interpretation of the poem is that the poet is in fact thinking of death, which doesn’t seem menacing in this “lovely, dark and deep” setting; but he still has the rest of his life to live – the “miles to go before I sleep”. It reminds me of the many, many wonderful walks I have had in the woods in winter, the tranquility and joy that engulf me every year around this time.

Over the holidays I wish you, dear reader, a peaceful and restful break from all of those “miles” you have gone and plan to go.

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Anne

Teaching English for business communication skills, writing online for learners, translating, sailing whenever I can, from Washington, D.C.

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