Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

This is merely a simple story of a weary traveler, who is exhausted from following the path and only wants to sit down for a while. In “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, Robert Frost explores the complex array of emotions one is forced to undergo as he deals with the expectations thrust onto him.

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 of Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

One of the most famous poems of Robert Frost, it was written in 1922 and published the next year. The background etched here is simple enough; a travelling stranger pauses on his journey to admire the beautiful woods. Nothing is said more about the stranger, no description is given about him or his destination. The entire poem is a reflection of the stranger’s thoughts during the fleeting moments he passed as he stopped by a wood, one wintry night.

His thoughts dwell on the owner of the woods who shall miss the stranger as he pauses to “watch his woods fill up with snow”. He also contemplates on how strange his horse must be feeling to having to pause the journey, although a destination has not been reached. As the poem reaches the last stanza, the stranger has also decided to cut his retreat short. Although the woods are “lovely, dark and deep”, the traveler has “promises to keep” and miles still left to travel, a phrase he puts emphasis on by repeating it twice.

Throughout the entire poem, the stranger makes us aware of his own feelings by way of projecting them onto other beings. The owner’s potential miss is actually his own lament of not being able to stay behind to watch the scenes unfold. It is actually his own anxiety, not that of his horse, behind the miles still left incomplete. In a way, this poem is symbolic of our own yearn to often just give up on the impending quality of our journey and rest for a while. However, as the last two lines would suggest, the destination is the only allowable stopping place, no matter how “lovely, dark and deep” the woods may seem.