Pause and Your World May be New: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

2 01 2013

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Robert Frost

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.

Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem.

 Robert Frost’s poetry, while not always exactly lighthearted and cheery, gives me a cozy feel.  Maybe it is because his words are so familiar to me, as they might be for you, or maybe it’s because the experiences he writes about are pretty universal and relevant to the modern reader.

 This one, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” is almost like a Christmas carol in its effect on me, but don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it veers into sentimentality.

 Plus, it is a pretty good poem to start the year. 

 As he and his horse travel a familiar path through someone’s woods, he takes a moment to watch the woods fill with snow.  Who knows how many times he has traveled this same route and has never really seen things the same way he does on this trip. 

 Has that ever happened to you?  It does for me all the time, especially when I am out for a jog.  I have jogged down roads that I have driven on for decades and can still find things I haven’t noticed before.  Most recently, I noticed that a house just a few blocks down the street from my parents’ house is built sideways.  The front door is not facing the road, it’s like it got up and turned on its side, very strange.

 I never noticed that till I slowed down and looked around a bit more.  It makes me wonder what else is out there that I haven’t noticed before.  Stuff hiding in plain sight. 

 Maybe it’s the snow falling that makes our speaker hit the pause button for a moment.  Snow does that for me, too.  Especially when those giant snowflakes fall so slowly that they seem to reject all rules of gravity.

1/365 & 1/52 - Snow,

1/365 & 1/52 – Snow, (Photo credit: netzanette)

 We know it is not a common occurrence for this rider to stop in the middle of his journey from the behavior of this horse.  The horse shakes his harness bells—he wonders what’s up, this is not where we are supposed to stop.  This is not part of the normal routine.

After a moment, the rider reflects that, “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep” but concedes that he has promises to keep.  He’s got things to do, places to go.  No, he can’t shirk all his responsibilities and hang out in the woods all day, even though he may want to.  There are things to do before he can really rest. 

 However, he can take a few minutes to press pause from time to time.  He can slow down, admire, and appreciate what is around him, and make his world a little newer.

 Here’s to a year full of many pauses of new appreciation for you.




19 responses

2 01 2013

Great choice of poet and great choice of poem. I loved your analysis of it, to me at least, if felt spot on. Glad I followed your blog! Hope your New Year is as beautiful as Frost’s poetry. 😀

2 01 2013

Thanks, Mike! I’m glad I followed your blog, too. Cheers to a wonderful new year for you.

2 01 2013

Thanks right back mate! 😀

2 01 2013

Nice choice Liz! There is something about the calm of snow… I had one of those brief fantasies this week as I was hiking up a sledding hill in the snow and fresh air- how it would be to not sit in front of a desk every day. For now, that is not reality but I do enjoy the peacefulness of the snow and have had a longing for it this year.

2 01 2013

Thanks, Allison. I love those snowy pauses–sometimes they are all you need. A momentary vacation.

3 01 2013

I’ve always loved this poem- I have such a soft spot for Frost. This is a great analysis!

3 01 2013

Thanks. I definitely understand having a soft spot for Frost!

3 01 2013

This is one of my favorite frost poems. You’ve summed up my own thoughts about it too. There’s something somber about it but also a warmth in those words because taking those moments to be thoughtful doesn’t have to be depressing. I find joy in aloneness often enough, and in the chance to rest in nature, to relax with my thoughts. And I like the last lines the best because they speak to me of a pensive moment that leads to continued adventures “with miles to go” still.
Great post on this and a great choice of literature too!

3 01 2013

Thanks for your thoughts. Excellent distinction about solemnity not necessarily equating to melancholy– I agree completely. I also treasure those moments alone, especially now that I have small children. Silence is really underrated in our world. I never appreciated it as much as I do now.

3 01 2013
Freeda Baker Nichols

An awesome choice to post this poem by Robert Frost. Thank you for following my blog. I enjoy reading and following your blog. Best to you in 2013.

3 01 2013

Thanks so much. Every time I get a notification that you have posted, I check it out immediately. You are a gifted poet.

3 01 2013
Freeda Baker Nichols

Thank you. Writing is something I love to do. I’m trying a poem a day for Janurary 2013. Missed the deadline for signing up with a group, MoP, month of poetry, so I’m on my own, blogging poems and keeping them in a notebook.

3 01 2013

Excellent! Hope it is an inspired month for you.

4 01 2013

The poem and your words were just the calm place I needed to visit this afternoon. Thank you!

5 01 2013

It’s really nice to hear that. Thank you.

13 01 2013
Subhan Zein

I read this poem when I was still undergraduate and I still love it. Thank you for bringing the memory back. Many blessings and much love to you. 🙂

Subhan Zein

13 01 2013

Thank you, Subhan. I’m so glad you liked it.

12 02 2013
Very Inspirational Blog Award « muffins&mocha

[…] LetsTalkAboutLit (If you love lit and poetry (like me!) check this blog out! Appreciated the interpretation of “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening”-Robert Frost) […]

12 02 2013

Love this poem and what you said about it! Nominated you for Very Inspiring Blog Award here hope you like it!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: