Robert Frost, in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” writes a thought provoking poem that displays his view of life. He tells of a moment in nature where the speaker pauses by the woods and admires the beauty of the snowy evening. In careful detail Frost describes the scene before him. Snow is falling over the woods, there is a gentle winter wind, and the lake is frozen. After being in awe over the scene, he realizes that he has somewhere to be, and has things to do before he can relax and take pleasure in the magnificence of the nature around him. Through imagery, symbolic meaning, and rhythm, Robert Frost conveys his theme of being caught between enjoying special moments in life and fulfilling life’s obligations.
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Frost helps the reader understand the meaning of his poem through detailed imagery. He uses imagery to get us to imagine his setting before you even start reading the poem. He lets us know right away that he is stopping by the woods on a beautiful snowy day, all in his title. He then goes on, using imagery throughout his poem. On line four, he says, “To watch his woods fill up with snow.” This type of imagery appeals to the sight of the reader and causes them to immediately visualize many bare trees around them, all covered in a white blanket of snow. The resulting effect on the reader allows them to connect with what the writer is describing, and makes them feel like they are actually there too. Imagery that appeals to the reader’s sight is found throughout the rest of this poem also. Later, in line nine, he says that the horse shakes the bells on his harness. As the reader reads this line, they can even imagine what Frost is hearing, and can share with him how he felt when he heard the peaceful ring of the bells. In lines eleven and twelve Frost says, “The only other sound’s the sweep/ Of easy wind and downy flake.” Line eleven expresses what the wind sounds like in the woods, while in line twelve “easy wind” allows the reader to feel the breeze, and the chill that comes with the flakes of snow. What makes these imageries so vivid in the reader’s mind is Frost’s diction. Diction was also introduced in the title. Frost uses the phrase, “Stopping by,” in his title, to reveal to the reader that in his poem, he will stop but not stay long to enjoy the beauty of the snow and the woods. The different images that can be taken from Frost’s poem all set the scene of the lovely woods that Frost gets caught up in. When he realizes that he has things he must do, he ends up just stopping by the woods instead of staying there and enjoying nature.
While Frost shows his careful use of vocabulary in this poem, he also uses the words to create a symbolic meaning about life. At first, the speaker, Robert Frost, shows his readers that he loves nature through his displayed interest and adoration for the woods. The symbolic meaning for this love for the gorgeous woods is that they represent things in life that Frost enjoys and takes pleasure in doing. Frost also uses many poetic devices to write his poem. One is when he using personification to bring his horse to life. He gives him life through having the ability to communicate his thoughts. He says that his horse thinks it is unexpected that they do something out of the ordinary, and stop where there is no farmhouse. His horse represents someone or something in Frost’s life that constantly reminds him to do what he has to do before he can slow down. After this, he uses alliteration in line eleven, with the words sound and sweep. The sound of the alliteration when read aloud, causes the reader to think of the whistle of the soft wind that these words depict in the line following it. The connotations of these two words also add to the description of the wind, and what kind of woods he is trying to create. In the last stanza, he calls these woods “lovely, dark, and deep,” showing that he really enjoys its beauty. The next line, however, demonstrates the realization that he had forgotten. He had to keep his promises and he had a long journey to travel before he could rest. This figurative language is displaying another place in his poem that Frost suggests a symbolic meaning. This means that Frost really would like to stay in the woods a while to take in the beauty of the snow and trees. Then, he is reminded, by his horse, that he needs to finish his work and things he has previously agreed to doing before he sits and relaxes. The speaker who exhibited love for the woods and other peaceful things demonstrated how he was trapped in between the decision of working and fulfilling your duties, or having time to relax.
Rhythm plays a big part in getting Frost’s theme across, in addition to imagery and symbolic meaning, by helping to set the tone of the poem. The words of this poem are simpler ones, and most have one syllable. Robert Frost’s specific choice in words causes the poem to take a faster pace and makes it sound more plain than it really is, simply because most of the words are one syllable and they are much simpler words than you would hear used in some other poems. One thing that is especially unique about this poem from others is that every line has eight syllables, and the metrical feet used in this poem resembled an iambic meter. With eight syllables in each line and an iambic meter pattern, this poem is known as having an iambic tetrameter. When this type of poem is read, it can also add to the fast tempo beat this poem had already carried. The rhyme scheme of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is one that has an end rhyme on each line and follows a pattern of AABA. Each third line of a stanza introduces a new rhyme that will rhyme with the first, second and third lines of the next stanza. All but the last stanza follow this pattern. The fourth stanza does not follow this pattern because it has no new rhyme to introduce, so it has a pattern of DDDD. The rhythm helps set the tone by making the poem short and sound straightforward. This gives the poem a feel of being easygoing and light, like the snow falling over the trees. The rhyme scheme gives the poem a rhythm that takes the poem and makes it move at a fast and smooth pace. This fast and smooth pace is like the speaker being able to enjoy the beautiful scene for just a moment and then must move on to finish his work. The tone of the poem is set mainly by the rhythm and rhyme scheme in this poem and creates the perfect background to the conflict Frost was in-between.
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“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is a fantastically written poem that captures Robert Frost’s view of how life should be. In the end, Frost is saying that people should want to enjoy the special times in life and they can. He is also saying, however, that if one makes a promise to do something, or has a job to accomplish, the work should always come before enjoying the things people love to do in life. Over-all, Frost uses many different ways of expressing the meaning of his poem, especially imagery, symbolic meanings, rhythm, and rhyme scheme.
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