Poem of the Day: Robert Frost's "Stopping By The Woods On a Snowy Evening"


I've had this on my 'poem of the day' list for a long time. I've refrained from posting it for a couple reasons. One, that if you are remotely interested in poetry (or attended any high school English class in America), you probably already know it. Second, it's Robert Frost. Frost isn't that cool or edgy, at least not on first glance.

This poem's crept up on me a few times lately. For one thing, it's a test case for the International Memory Championships (my new obsession!), owing to its abstract imagery.

But that, again, does it a disservice. For those of us who aren't memory olympiads, it's a poem we're required to memorize for a weekly pop quiz, and then we promptly forget it. All beauty is then lost. Learning it that way, would you have thought it a meditation on the very nature of property and ownership itself? On sovereignty and generosity? Of white man's burden, and the glorification of colonialism?

I thought not. Spend some time with it. Try to imagine whose voice speaks. Little hints of tyranny peek through about the speaker and the owner of the woods. If indeed one can own the woods on a public wayfare.

Robert Frost - Stopping By The 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.


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One Response to “ Poem of the Day: Robert Frost's "Stopping By The Woods On a Snowy Evening" ”

  1. Unfortunately, this poem was forever tainted for me by a high school English teacher who had some laughable notions about what the poem was REALLY saying and brooked absolutely no questioning of her interpretation.  Frost's The Road Not Taken is probably my favorite poem.


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