‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ was written by Robert Frost, an American poet. He is much admired for his depiction of the rural life of New England, the common language style used by the Americans, and their everyday lives. He is inarguably the best loved poet of America. This poem was written in 1922 and published in 1923.
The poem talks of a traveller who finds himself at the edge of the woods on a snowy evening. The thoughts of the traveller as he waits on his horse are explained in the poem. The traveller is spell-bound by the beauty of the woods. The snow that keeps falling adds an ethereal quality to the woods. The traveller, for a moment, forgets the worries of the world he has come from and is locked in the hold of the mesmerizing beauty that he encounters in the form of the woods.
The very first stanza talks of the traveller stopping near the woods. He seems to know the owner of the woods, whose house is in the village. But since that man is not nearby at that time, the traveller decides to linger near the woods. The traveller enjoys the solitude that he finds himself in and does not want that to be intruded upon.
The second stanza speaks of the reaction of the horse towards the traveller’s decision to stop at that place. It finds it strange that the human has stopped near a place that does not seem to be capable of providing it with food. The traveller is torn between the decision to stay on and look at the beautiful woods or keep moving. ‘The darkest evening of the year’ could mean the evening that is literally the longest or could have layered meanings about the difficulties the traveller could have faced that specific day.
In the third stanza, the narrator talks of the horse shaking its head, making sound with its harness bells. The horse probably wants the traveller to leave the place and move towards the village or some place away from the woods. For a person who is overwhelmed with problems, the woods look menacing. As for a person who chooses to enjoy the nature of woods and find peace, the woods have a calming effect. The gentle falling of the snow produces a soothing effect. The sound of the wind, the falling snow and the ringing of the bells are the only sounds that can be heard in this stanza.
The fourth stanza talks of the traveller coming back to reality from the stupor that he was caught in due to the beauty of the woods. The peace that he enjoys in the woods must be broken and he must proceed with his journey. The traveller talks of the journey that he must undertake in order for him to fulfill the commitments that he has already made. He cannot keep admiring the beauty of the woods. The tone could be that of the narrator wishing his death, but also obliged to fulfill all his wishes and commitments.