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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Robert Frost's poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

257 Comments

  1. TerraHertz says:

    Fascinating to see so many people projecting their own relationship with life onto this poem. Sad too, in the case of those who read a longing for death into it. Or typical, with the ones who must find a reference to God in everything (but are poor with logic, since what God could not see the rider stopping here?)

    I read it as simply a poem to the beauty of natural scenes, the quiet of falling snow, the call of the woods, touch of the wind, his bond with his horse. Overall the joy of existence. And yet a sorrow at being constrained from unlimited enjoyment of such pleasures by the Duties of life, and wistfulness that these will go on as long as life itself.

    But then I like walking in the woods. So I too am projecting.

  2. Lou Filliger says:

    Also for those who mention suicide, I think not. More the longings of an older man to rest after a life well lived, a life lived more for others than for himself.

    • Gena says:

      Exactly Lou! I also do not think it is about suicide. I read the poem and I think he is stopping to rest & take in the beauty around him. I think that by repeating the last line – “Miles to go before I sleep” twice – he is reminding himself & urging himself that he must go on. 🙂

      • imran says:

        i am agree not at all with you guys after reading the poem.. suicide is the theme of the poem. because death is something natural and it comes at its particular time. but here in this poem the poet wants to escape from the harsh realities of life that’s why he has repeated the last lines twice because he forcefully wants to get rid of this life and its difficulties. and it is only possible if he commits suicide.

  3. Lou Filliger says:

    His house is in the village, though = church = God’s house. The word “his” is at the beginning of the line so doesn’t pound you over the head with having to capitalize it in the middle of a sentence.

    • Maybe, Lou. But the lines –
      “He will not see me stopping here
      To watch his woods fill up with snow.”
      I was brought up to believe that God sees all.
      If he were speaking of God in his poem, would not God see him wherever he stopped?
      Just a thought. 🙂

  4. Subrata Ray says:

    The poet in Frost rises into mystic state while picturing the bewitching beauty of the woods that responds to the senses of the eye and the ear and transcends to the dark and deep world of imaginary falsification .
    The apparent world is a world of temptation and it often leads the viewer to the involvement and consumption .Most of us fall victim to the apparent beauty or handsomeness , forgetting the purpose of life
    that that remains in one’s self-less activities of good deeds .
    The dictate of conscience must be obeyed and in that
    the greater -self persists us in continuing the profitless service to all ,-man and animal .
    Frost certainly had the glimpse of the living soul and his true dwelling was by its side .The subtle senses in man come out from within only when non attachment with gross senses no longer are force-fully active . Hence the crossing the bar between life and death the soul enjoys its blissful rest .
    subrata ray .Mousumipara .Uluberia .West. Bengal .India .

  5. Subrata Ray says:

    Robert Frost , through his little-spanned poem Stopping By the Woods on Snowy Evening, has done the marvel on human principle of deeds and romantic fascination .The poem goes to a deeper level of human psychology .For ,temptation and feasting senses often cause our downfall .
    We may enjoy the beauty of a girl , or nature , but not at the cost of our work .
    Subrata Ray .Uluberia West Bengal.India .

  6. Jamie Kane says:

    Frost, unfortunately, is contemplating suicide
    The woods are a metaphor for a cemetery, the horse, is his hearse…

    poem, lovely, but dark..

  7. Samuel Barnes says:

    Frost talks about seeing something from afar that intrigues him as if the falling snow is the vehicle that conveys the thought he is promoting. The deep dark woods on an evening speak more to the fullness of life in a natural setting that is beset with the glory of a filling of wonder or snow. He speaks to the owner being afar and not being able to appreciate the beauty of his possession denotes the pleasures that people forego to achieve a place in society. He speaks to the darkest evening of the year and this pertains to a dark and devious day or night in his life and the hardship of moving forward. It is easier to stop and stay than to move forward and stay among the living.
    The promises to keep are the commitments he has made to others that cannot be thrown aside for the simple task of dying and staying where there is comfort, beauty and a desire to be among the trees in the dark, deep woods where the downy flakes cover the harsh ground with clean, fluffy flakes that cover all ugliness that was once there. His thoughts wander as he sits atop his stead thinking of the things he would rather do than to move forward but the horse jingles his bells to awaked the rider to the need to move forward rather than to be claimed by the cold and the land.

  8. emily says:

    The poem is about someone who wants to be in heaven and is thinking about his afterlife. he wants to die now but he has miles and miles to go before he sleeps, and has promises to keep. Frost is probably using figurative language to describe someone in a cementary, visiting

  9. Suuny says:

    I’ve recently read some critique about this poem which says that you cannot know which more important thing is, enjoying being in the woods or keeping social promoises. I think Frost wanted to make us decide the priority for ourselves. I haven’t made up my mind yet, but I’m sure that this poem deeply impressed me and other people around the world.

  10. jannat says:

    thank u all for your comments as its helping me for my exam preparations…

    this poem is definitely an inspiration for all of us,it reminds us that we are in a journey with lots of works to be completed before it ends and remarks that time waits for none..

  11. Jairus says:

    Hi! I’m currently taking up Bachelor of Science in Nursing in a prestigious school in the Philippines but we have this minor subject, english literaures of the world.

    This masterpiece poem of Frost simply states that the speaker or the writer is in a dilemma because as stated in the poem, he said that the owner of this village wont see him if he will just stay for a while because he was tempted to stay here but a long journey awaits him. The speaker is bemused if he’s gonna stay or not because he has a promise to be kept and that is to return in reality, the world of man, the civilization and this nature represents a wish to die because its lovely, dark, and deep.

  12. montana says:

    iam a palestinian student, i study english lit. and this poem is the one which is in my book.
    i hope somebody to add me to help me in something.
    thanks

  13. Roe says:

    I have always felt this poem was a metaphor for suicide. Rather than meaning to inspire it seems the main character has resigned himself to living to meet his obligations. Beautiful and sad.

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