I took this poem at first read to be an allusion to the contemplation of infidelity. Women can be thought of as trees: from us come alternately warmth and shade, fresh air and smoke. Passing by another man's real estate a ways away from his main place of residence could be tantamount to meeting another man's wife/woman when that man lives on the other side of town, or is out of town. His 'little horse' in want of a farmhouse could be his penis, if the author is a married/taken man himself, or his conscience, as our conscience carries us to wear we ought to go. The shaking of the bells, a crass sound compared to wind through trees and over snow drifts, could be the juxtaposition of right with temptation. After a momentary debate, the author sticks to his 'promises' and does not give in to the temptation of admiring the 'lovely, dark, and deep' woods. Sleep could be death. So the author vows to resist temptation for the duration of his marriage/relationship, till death they part.
The wood, to me, represents that sacred silence and peace harboured in your soul that is untainted by life and reality. The place where you long to take heed, indulge and wonder but proves too achingly difficult because the duties of life soon jolts your horse! There is no way one could remain forever in the depth and loveliness the wood provides because simply, life is too cruel. However poetry, music and art stand to remind you that the wood does exist, and is available for you when you allow yourself a respite from harsh reality...and perhaps that is enough :) thank you Mr Frost.
Dark temptation. The kind that makes the mind wonder,
'what if I just reach out and grab.., that whirling blade of sharpened teeth;
what if I take that lofty leap; or wade in blindly to the briney deep.
The woods are empty, dark and deep-not a soul arround
to record my creep-into the mist without a sound.
The promisises that I have to keep
are what bind me to this life so cheap
and what stay my hand, my step, my plunge;
postpone.., for now, my ride alone
into the cold
and loney peace
that calls to me from that empty reach.
This poem had always been an inspiration for my son who attends Indiana University. He made a short video he adapted for youtube. If you go to that site and search for klbasey you can find his short for the Robert Frost poem 'Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening'. It is how it was meant to be read. Dark yet inspirational. As a father I was impressed.
No one knows
what another man thinks
or what he means by what he says.
...unless he is here to tell you.
Often though, even when he is
he cannot himself
the meaning of the mood
that chose his words or
drove his pen
to create the thing that moves you.
The poet seeks
to convey a thing
a thought, a mood, a glint of light
that elludes the telling, clear and plain
in a way that stirs
the readers mind
to think a thing
and know a thought;
to feel a mood, and see a sight.
what this poem is about is as different in my heart and yours
as are the divergent paths trodden-by you and me-in the getting here and in the going there.....
Adding to Shiela - the fact that the horse finds it queer and thinks that his master is in a mistake by stopping, acts as a good pointer to the poet's troubled state of mind. The poet also seems relieved that the owner will not see him stop. It is a sad poem but inspirational too.
We've studied this poem in our World Literature course...
First, i took the whole poem literally; however, after re-reading it again for at least three times, i saw his meaning. and it is quite beautiful.
My professor taught us the meaning of this poem... it's about art (imagination) and reality...
in my own conclusion, it means that even though art can set us free from the harsh reality of life... we still have to come back and realize that we are still living and though reality hurts we must face if even if we have to travel miles to reach our goal...
^_^ it's a little deep for a poem that looks, at first glance, made for children rhymes...
and I didn't mean it as a criticism, it is meant as a compliment because it could express this much using simple words and imagism... ^_^
One has to read the poem out loud to experience the magic of its cadences.(c.f. W. H. Auden's definition of poetry as memorable speech.)
Frost says he repeated the last line because he couldn't think of any other.Clearly he also recognised that there was no need for any other.
The statement in the last verse is that beauty is compelling and he would love to linger, but he has work to do.
'Sleep' may refer to nightime sleep, or the more lasting sleep of death.
Well, I guess everyone can interpret a poem the way they want. Great poets are those that get across multiple ideas with a single poem. BUT, it is known that Frost's poetry isn't as light and cheerful as many people think. And this poem is quite dark if you are getting the message he was expressing.
I'm surprised how optimistic the commentary on this poem is, and with how the majority of people view his work. Frost has been called one of the darkest poets of our time, and the most accurate interpretations of his poems are often left out of grade school curriculums for the same reason kids spend weeks learning about Martin Luther King Jr. but Malcolm X is mentioned only in passing.
Robert Frost had a horrible life. His father died of tuberculosis when he was 11, leaving the family poor and destitute, and his mother later died of cancer. His younger sister was committed to a mental hospital and died there nine years later, and he had to send his daughter to an asylum as well. Out of his six children, only two outlived him (a son commited suicide, a son and daughter from disease and another daughter from SIDS) , and his wife died of cancer and heart failure.
This is not an uplifting poem about can-do spunk and optimism. The narrator and rider of this poem is not smilng or daydreaming. It is an epiphany about stoic duty. The woods symbolize death, and indirectly suicide. It would be very easy for the rider to simply give in and embrace death, which seems far more welcome than the responsibilities he is bound to. But instead, he forges on grimly, all because of duty.