Robert Frost’s Poems Analysis

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Take a walk in the woods on any given day, and you would be challenged to conclude that it is anything less than peaceful. The only noise comes from the sounds of nature, birds chirping, woodland creatures at play, the sound of trees letting go of branches and leaves that have outlived their purpose. No matter the time of year, there is beauty to behold in the depths of the woods. In his poems, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost captures the beauty and serenity of the woods and positions them as both a resting place and a decisional turning point through his use of many poetic devices and literary terms.

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The poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” is the story of a man who is out one evening for a ride on his horse, and as the title of the poem suggests, he stops in the woods on a snowing evening and takes a pause to admire the surrounding beauty and serenity that it offers. Frost uses this setting to focus on the mood created, which is one of contemplation. It is winter and the woods are full with snow on “The darkest evening of the year” (Frost, “Stopping by the Woods” 8); suggests that perhaps it is the Winter Solstice which produces the darkest evening the night just before the shortest day of the year. Containing only four stanzas, Frost uses an iambic tetrameter with four beats, stressed syllables and a rhythm about the poem for all four stanzas. The rhyme scheme used here is AABA which helps to move the poem along, similar to the trotting of a slow-moving horse. In the second stanza, using enjambment, Frost gives us a bit of perspective from the viewpoint of the horse. It appears that from the horse’s perspective, the rider does not ordinarily make stops in the woods unless there is a farmhouse nearby. Yet, on the darkest night of the year, he has chosen to do just that, and the horse finds this odd, or “queer” (Frost, “Stopping by the Woods, 5). In an effort to move the rider along, the horse shakes the bells of his harness alerting the rider that they should continue with their journey.

For his part, the rider has found the woods to be a bit of a resting place. Frost paints a portray a calm scene through being careful of his word choice. “The only other sound’s the sweep / Of easy wind and downy flake. / The woods are lovely, dark and deep” (Frost, “Stopping by the Woods 11-13). The denotations of the words provide us with the ability to create images in our mind of a dark night with gentle snow while the connotations give us the sense of a resting place in a peaceful setting. The serenity provides a feeling of being alone, at the same time, enjoying the solitude that this provides. The rider, then has had the opportunity to enjoy a calming evening out, and a chance to escape the real world and all its obligations. The illusion that the rider has been able to escape reality is quickly diminished by the last line of the poem where he that he must leave his place of rest and return to the daily obligations of life. He closes the poem with contemplation neither positive nor negative of all that lies ahead, “And miles to go before I sleep, / And miles to go before I sleep” (Frost, “Stopping by the Woods” 15-16).

In contrast, Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” is the story of a man who is out for a walk in the woods and comes across two paths, presenting him with a challenge to choose one over the other. He decides on one path, and there is suggestion in the word choice that perhaps he will return again in time and try the other path, “Oh, I kept the first for another day!” (Frost, “The Road Not Taken” 13). The roads are metaphors for life; and the paths we choose metaphors for the choices we make along the way. Frost uses a formal style for this poem and employs the use of poetic diction, while using simple vocabulary. This combination helps enable readers to understand the simple theme of making difficult choices. The poem has a serious tone and the outlook for the narrator is questionable. Similar to “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” the poem includes four stanzas, but here Frost uses four stressed syllables per line that vary on an iambic tetrameter base. The rhyme scheme used for this poem varies from that used in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and is set at ABAAB.

The entire poem is an extended metaphor symbolic of each person’s journey and their life choices, which lends itself to the theme of the poem which is that we are all confronted with forks in the road of life, and we must make a choice as to which road to follow. Imagery plays a big role in the poem and from the beginning where Frost paints the scene of a traveler being confronted with two paths. The traveler comes upon two roads, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (Frost, “The Road Not Taken” 1), and the yellow wood suggests that perhaps it the autumn of the year when yellow leaves have fallen and now cover the path, or symbolically, the autumn of the traveler’s life.

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Robert Frost's Poems Analysis. (2021, Apr 15). Retrieved from