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Outside Influences – Robert Frost – Stopping by Woods on a...
12/18/2019 01:46 a.m.

Outside Influences – Robert Frost – Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Over the years, I’ve come across this poem from time to time, and up till recently, never paid it much attention. All I knew about Robert Frost was that he was an American poet, who lived sometime in the early to mid 20th century, and had read a poem at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961.

Over time, the poem grew on me, both in its simplicity and deeper meaning. I find it haunting, but in a good way, for its spiritualism (who’s woods? …God’s?), and its capture of winter, having lived all my life in a northern country.

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.

© 1922 Robert Frost

 photo Robert Frost b RED40.jpg

Courtesy of the Net

 photo Robert Frost c.jpg

After staying up the whole night working on another poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snow Evening came to Robert Frost as “a hallucination” as he took a breath outside and saw the rising sun. He wrote his vision down and luckily while in this trance no one knocked on the door or rang him up to break the fluid poem written in four stanzas of four lines in iambic tetrameter (four feet to a line) and a rhyme scheme that uses four rhymes (know, here, lake, sweep) that flow intricately and effortlessly toward its end, home, a perfect place we know (and hope) with warmth and love and artifice and soul, the last four lines all ending with the same reassuring sounds of sleep and keep, far from the lovely sweep of cold deep snow.

Writers write so much, and good ones know, when all is said and done, very little lasts beyond their time and place. Frost thought and wrote to his friend Louis Untermeyer that Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening was “my best bid for remembrance”.

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