Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening of Robert Frost: Some Reflections

‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ of Robert Frost is one of my most favorite poems and I often recite it. I know that many people like it and they also love to recite it just like me. The reason that I like it is that it is great to read it aloud when I am alone. The words are carefully selected and they create a musical feeling in my heart. Yes, this musical feeling alone is enough to like and admire this poem. There are other reasons too. Robert Frost is perhaps the most celebrated and famous American poet of the 20th century and ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ indicates his superb craftsmanship as a poet.
Here is the text:
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's 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.

I have already talked about the musical quality. So, I am not going to repeat about it now. Instead, I want to say something now about the natural setting of the poem. The first line talks about the woods. The second line clearly tells us that it is a rural setting. You have the owner of the house in the third line and then there is snow next. So, in the first stanza you can find four important things: woods, village, the owner of the house and snow. Of course, the poet does not see the owner of the house but mentions him.  
When I read this poem, it reminds me of William Wordsworth a lot. The description of nature by Robert Frost is not only excellent but also, nature signifies something. I wonder why Frost is not included as a part of Romantic poets of English Literature. When I studied about Romantic Literature, we studied about works of Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Byron and Shelley. I know that Frost does not belong to that generation but his poems should be included in this course. Then, we can admire him even more. I am not an academician but I think that it is logical to include the poems of Robert Frost along with the Romantic poets in any literature course.
We know that in poems of Wordsworth, nature was not just nature but it was alive and had strong role in human life. Frost did the same thing in ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’. The Woods is not just a collection of trees but it is an alive entity to the speaker. He talks of the Woods as if it was like a beautiful actress (attractive). Well, may be ‘beautiful actress’ is not the right idea here but the Woods is something that is more than trees.
I feel a sense of Buddhism in the poem. In Buddhism, there is a strong urge to abstain from luxury and maintain a very modest lifestyle. You are even advised not to consume meat or wine. I am not sure if Frost was influenced by Buddhism or not but the last stanza is very much similar to Buddhist principles of life. It is also similar to the ideas of Sufism.
In my personal life, I try to avoid all kind of luxuries and I strongly believe that we need to be happy with normal lifestyle. ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ was written in 1922. It was written after 4 years of the end of World War I. I am also not sure whether the destructions of World War I had anything to do with the writing of this poem but I find it to be a great answer. The poem talks of peace and tranquility which is just opposite of war. 


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