When I started doing regular poetry Wednesdays, it was always my intention to end the series with this poem. Of course, it was also my intention to only do it for one year and I managed to keep it going for almost two.
It’s been a rewarding exercise. I had almost forgotten how much I loved poetry and poem analysis. What can I say? I’m a word nerd. Ooh, I should get that on a T-shirt! Alas, I have honestly long run out of poems that I really wanted to write about. Though I managed to find to some wonderful new poems from google searches and all my fantastic guest bloggers, I can no longer sustain a weekly poetry post. But the space remains open for anyone who wants to contribute them and I’ll readily publish any new interesting poems I come across.
All that administrative stuff out of the way, let’s talk about Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening.
There are a handful of poems I can still recite by heart after being forced to learn the words in school, and this is one of them. Pearatty, I think, told me once that Frost, in an interview, shunned attempts to assign any deep meaning to this poem. “It’s just about a snowy night.” That story makes me laugh because I love this poem because not only is it very short and simple, but it’s also twisted and dark. The image of this lone rider *reluctantly* making his way back to town out of a snowstorm even on the darkest night of the year…well, it’s quite a grim assesment of his life, isn’t it?
He wants to stay out here. Forever, possibly. But he has promises to keep. And things to do and so he trudges on.
I’m writing this post from the warm comfort of my dining room table, but a few inches away, I can see the snow drift resting heavy on my balcony door. I watched Sunday night’s precipitation slowly cling to my railings and fill up the flower pots. I recalled watching storms from my bedroom window, as a kid, and delighting in how the fire escapes in the back of the building slowly turned from black to white. Snowfall can be a seductively hypnotic phenomena. So maybe the poem is just about a snowy nighht. Or maybe it’s about all the things that can suddenly catch us unawares, capturing our attention. All those shiny distractions which tempt us away from responsibility and obligation.
If we’re lucky, something will gently shake a bell or tap us on the shoulder and remind us to get going. If we’re not, well, there’s always the spring thaw.
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost
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.