- Choices: Imagery in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
- Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is a beautiful poem that evokes a deep sense of longing and peace. The author uses several different poetic elements; however, imagery influences the entire poem and its theme. In the poem, a man has stopped near a woodland area. He lingers wondering about the owner of the woods. He stays because the owner is in the village, and he is enjoying being able to watch the snow falling in such a beautiful place. His horse tries to get his attention by making noise with his harness bells. The horse wants him to keep going and it alerts the man to obligations. The man is tempted to stay but has other things to do and a long journey ahead of him. The poem does not state whether he leaves or decides to remain a few moments after. The theme of the poem is expressing the choice between life’s obligations and the peacefulness of death. The author expresses this theme of his poem mainly through imagery.
- In the poem, imagery is used to help express how reality keeps pulling him back. The horse represents a reminder of reality and how he needs to continue with his life to fulfill “promises” (line 14). When the horse “…gives his harness bells a shake” (line 9) and “… there is some mistake” (line 10) shows that the horse is trying to attract his owner’s attention to call attention to the reality that that they shouldn’t be standing in the middle of nowhere and there are more important things to attend to. Imagery also helps to show the isolation in making one’s choices. The imagery in “to stop without a farmhouse near,” “On the darkest evening of the year,” and “…only other sound’s…” (lines 5, 7 and 11) help to show the seclusion of where he is and of how he feels closed off while having to choose between life and death. He is at a weak point and is contemplating whether or not he should continue with his journey through life or end it by allowing the temptation of the woods to pull him in. This temptation is also expressed through imagery albeit more subtly. The expressive words in “lovely, dark and deep” “easy wind and downy flake” (lines 12 and 13) show how he thinks that what he wants is peaceful, calming and utterly tempting to him. To him death is soothing and quiet like a good night’s rest. “But I have promises to keep” (line 14) and “…miles to go before I sleep” both help to express his acknowledgement of what he has yet to do and that he cannot linger thinking about death and its temptation because he has a life to live and many things to do. Overall, imagery expresses the theme throughout the poem and in a suitable manner.
- The picturesque words create the scenery even without explicit details of the actual events and this assists in expressing the emotions in the theme. The imagery shows how torn the man is when having to choose life over death when death is so temptingly peaceful. The poem is very effective in its use of imagery to help express the choice between life’s obligations and the peacefulness of death.
- 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.
- Work Cited
- Frost, Robert. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." Poetry Foundation. 20 September 2011.
- < http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171621>.
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