Robert Frost Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Analysis

Robert Frost Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Analysis


Robert Frost in most of his poems paints realistic pictures. He is famous for sketching rural life images. His writing style is simple and lucid and hardly we find any ambiguity in his poems. He brings clarity while philosophically talking about a subject in detail. In fact, he presents philosophy of life but he remains impartial while demonstrating it. It is evident from in depth analysis his poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” that Robert Frost wrote in 1922 but it was published after almost one year in 1923 in his New Hampshire volume.

Critics have also charged Robert Frost with shallowness of thoughts in his poems; however that is not of much importance as his poems are about philosophy of life at a particular level. Furthermore, he never portrays the life of dreams. Although poetry is an imitation of life and a poet uses his imaginative power to write it yet his poetry does not cross the physics. In addition, he writes dramatic poems, which is one of the major characteristics of Robert Frost poetry.

Robert Frost Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Analysis

The poem is simplest in its form. Apparently, the poet (speaker) talks about his feelings one evening when he stopped by some woods. He saw woods filled up with snow and portrayed the theme of irresponsibility in the poem. On one hand the poet talks about irresponsible behaviour whereas on the opposite he sets beautiful natural imagery. The poem contains four stanzas and each stanza contains four lines. The poem is lyrical like other poems of Robert Frost and follows the rhyming scheme of AABA BCBB CDCC DDDD.

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Stanza I Analysis

The poem starts with a question and then the answer. Speaker asks the question about the woods that he sees and then he himself (used himself because we assume the speaker is Robert Frost) answers it; he says that perhaps he knows to whom the woods belong. He knows that the house is nearby in the village; however, the speaker imagines that he would never know that the speaker has stopped by the woods. The poet further gives a detailed description of the woods; he says they are filled up with the snow.

In the first stanza of the poem, imagery is highly realistic. Rober Frost is a well known poet for citing realistic images in his poems. The words “woods”, “village” and “snow” create a truthful scenery. Besides surface meanings of the words, there are some deeper and symbolic meanings of the poem. First stanza does not clear anything regarding themes and symbolic meanings of the poem but when we read the complete poem we come to the conclusion that it has certain symbolic meanings.

Firstly, we see the poet, seeing just the woods that are filled with snow. It is the coldest night yet the poet sees woods outside of the house; it seems that the poet wants to draw attention of his readers towards the irresponsible behaviour of people; instead of putting the woods inside, someone has put them outside his house; wet woods are no longer useful to him as much efforts are required to burn them. In this way, Analysis of the first stanza reveals that Robert Frost wants to portrays irresponsible behaviour of people in his poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Stanza II Analysis

In the second stanza, the poet talks about the thinking of his horse. It has become obvious that the poet is on a horse and he is not walking when he stops by the woods. The horse feels awkward by the situation as he realises that the speaker has stopped while there is no farmhouse nearby. The horse is confused as to why the speaker stopped between the “woods” and “frozen lake” in the “darkest evening of the year”.

The stanza seems much simpler so far as its surface meanings are concerned; however, deep analysis of it transpires that Robert Frost portrays “distraction from final destination” as another theme of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. The speaker has to reach his destination within a specific time period but woods distract him. He stops there and wastes his time. It seems that the poet portrays the journey of life, hence, the poem is about a universal phenomenon. Everyone has to face death one day; however, none realises it; everyone in this world is distracted by something; some by money whereas others by making fame and names whilst remaining by luxuries of life.

Second stanza of the poem explains the irresponsibility of people with respect to life; no one realises that he has to die one day and instead of preparing for the afterlife people waste their time. It is true that people waste their time in useless activities and do not realise that very less time is left. As we know that Robert Frost portrays philosophy of life in his poems; therefore, maybe, another meaning of this stanza is that the speaker talks about enjoying life instead of living it. Life is so short that he stops by the woods for a while but suddenly he realises that he does not have much time to enjoy the beauty of nature. The poem may be read with these meanings.

Stanza III Analysis of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

The poet uses he for the horse. It means that he has a close relationship with the horse as the word he is mostly used for animals that have close association. The horse asks the question from the speaker whether he stops here by mistake or it is a deliberate action. The horse may have been used as a symbol of mental consciousness. When something distracts a person from his motive then the mind is the one that reminds him about his future goals. In this particular situation, the horse does so. It is, therefore, he asks from the speaker that he is short in time yet he is wasting it.

One of the major messages in this stanza is sticking to the goals. There is always someone or something that reminds a person to stick to his goals. “He gives his harness bells a shake” means that the horse continuously motivates the speaker to achieve his goals. Anything can create distraction for a person but it does not mean that he stops going. He must manage himself to return to his real goals. As the poetry is always full of ambiguity. Even if there is no ambiguity in it then there is ambiguity, hence, much difficulty lies in finding symbolic meanings of words. From analysis of Stanza II, there may be chances that Robert Frost wants to give a message of sticking to the goals in his poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”.

Stanza IV Analysis

Final stanza of the poem is about Motivation and the will to keep going. The poet knows that “The woods are lovely, dark and deep” but he has to move as “he has to cover many miles. Last line of the poem that is repeated twice shows the importance of time. As it has been said that there is no secret of success except working hard and keep going, hence, the beauty of night, the snow and the woods diverts the attention of the speaker for a short period of time but soon he realises that he has to move forward as he has “promises to keep”.

The poem portrays universal themes. Everyone in this world has goals to achieve before he dies. Life is all about setting goals and achieving them. If one has no goals and promises to keep then his life becomes barren and no one wants to live such a desolate life. Further, life is not about resting and comfort, it is hard. In the final stanza of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening “, Robert Frost creates an in depth analysis of life and shares his experiences with his reader. He motivates his readers and insists on never giving up on goals.

Thematic Analysis of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

Surface meanings of the poem are much simpler yet the themes that we obtain from symbolic analysis of the “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost are:

  • Irresponsible behaviour
  • Journey of life
  • Distraction from final destination
  • Motivation and will of keep going
  • Importance of time
  • Natural disasters


To conclude, the poem ends with a message that distraction may occur sometimes but it is not everlasting; therefore, keep moving is one of the ways of achieving goals in life.