Robert Frost’s Poetry Analysis

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The title of my poem is “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy evening” by Robert Frost. Before reading this poem I thought that the title simply meant that the speaker was stopping by the woods on a snowy evening. Upon reading this poem a summary of it would be that the speaker stops to take in the lovely view of the woods and he remembers the promises he must keep. He is tempted to stay and watch the forest fill with snow but he is reminded by his horse’s confusion of the promises that he must fulfill and acknowledges his obligation to those promises. A potential theme is that one must fulfill their promises and not be distracted by the pleasures of life. Although I question whether the poem is really what it seems.

I wonder if there is a darker connotation to this poem rather than the simplistic and superficial meaning seen at the first glance of this poem. This poem could also be about death and suicide. The woods in the poem seem like they are calling/enticing him into the forest which carries an ominous tone. What will happen if he enters the forest? The speaker’s death may lay in wait in the woods. Yet we do not know because he remembers his obligations and promises. Another darker meaning is that he is a weary traveler content to end it all in the woods on the darkest winter evening. Another death would lay in wait for the speaker in the woods.

After reading the poem at face value I believe the tone of this poem seems to be very serene and calm at first. Although with the chance of a darker meaning to this poem I would change my tone to dark, depressing, and ominous. I chose this poem because there is more than one meaning you can get out of reading this poem. This poem has multiple meaning and different points of view. It is a slightly complex poem with lots of form and meaning. I like Robert Frost as a poet and there is a lot to write about in his poems. I like his poems and there also is a lot to write about in his life. Although this poem seems simplistic and superficial at first there is more than one way to look at this poem. I shall continue to explore these meanings and further find new meanings in my research essay.


Robert Frost was born on March 26, 1874 in San Francisco, California. He lived there for eleven years. After their father’s death they moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts to live with their grandfather. Frost went to Lawrence High School. He wrote a few poems in high school. He became class poet and he graduated as a valedictorian. Lawrence High School is where he met his future wife and fellow valedictorian, Elinor White. He briefly went to Dartmouth College then returned home to work many unfulfilling jobs. While he was working those jobs he also wrote poetry and sold his first poem called “My butterfly” to a New York magazine, The Independence. He proposed to Elinor and created a booklet of lyrics.

Upon Elinor’s unlikely response to the booklet and her rejection of the proposal he took a trip to Dismal Swamp. He returned to marry her as she graduated from college (Frost Robert Lee(1874-1963)).” “He returned to Harvard to study for two years. Without success at Harvard he started poultry farming and also moved to Derry to farm for twelve years. He sold his farm and brought his four children to England. He published books of poetry called “A little boy’s will” and “North of Boston” in England. He returned to America because of WW1. During his stay in England he found his calling in poetry and met Ezra Pound who influence him to continue on the path to being a poet.

He returned to America and moved to New Hampshire. He wrote a poem called “Mountain Interval” and started teaching at Amherst College. He continued teaching at different colleges, he read a poem at presidents John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, and became a poetry consultant at the library of Congress. He won many awards at that time (Perkins, et al 359).” “He continued to write producing “West Running Brook”, other lyric poems, and other narrative poems. He published a collection of poems in 1930 while he was visiting Paris (Frost Robert Lee(1874-1963)).” His life contained many tragedies.

Three of his children died, his wife died, and his daughter was put into a mental hospital. After the death of his children and wife it is clear he suffered a great many loses. The suffering he experienced made him turn to poetry and made him write more. These deaths were formative for some of the topics/poems he wrote about as some of his poems had darker connotations to them. “He continued to write more poems in a poem book called “A Witness Tree.” Frost made a final complete poem book in 1950. On January 1963 Frost died due to complications during a surgery (Frost Robert Lee(1874-1963)).”

Brief Report

Robert Frost’s life contained many tragedies. The death of three of his children, his wife, and his daughter being put into a mental hospital. It was clear that he suffered many grievances during that period of his life. His suffering was formative in his poetry and his path to being a poet. It made him turn to poetry. He wrote more and more to express those feelings in some of his poems. Some of his poems even had hidden darker themes than the superficial meanings. There were many poems he wrote that were affected by his tragedies.

“A number of poems…undoubtedly derived their dark tone from the family tragedies suffered over the decade (Prichard).” An example of a poem he wrote that is also my main poem and that has a darker connotation to it is “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy evening”. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy evening’s” superficial topic is the devotion and fidelity to the promises the speaker must keep. Through out the poem these promises and the peaceful contemplation in the woods are a major subject. A darker connotation for this poem is the speaker’s suicide. The speaker is a weary traveler demoralized by the promises he must keep and is content to end it all in the forest. The poem continually hints at death and darker connotations.

For example, because of this darker connotation the woods become a metaphor to death. “The woods represent the allure of death, perhaps suicide…(Saputra)” The forest tries to lure the speaker into suicide through it’s beauty and snow. Even the horse picks up on the speaker’s thoughts and contemplations of suicide. “Horses are often said to have a sixth sense the pick up on their riders anxiety…The beast, driven by a sense of duty, or perhaps by fear, seeks to rouse his master from contemplation(Saputra).”

The horse tries to get the speaker back on track and to remind him of the promises he must keep. Although, the dark, negative thoughts of the speaker, his description of that day as the “darkest evening of the year(Frost),” and the repetition of the line “And mile to go before I sleep, And mile to go before I sleep (Frost),” all hint at a weary speaker ready to commit suicide. The research of this poem’s topic helped to understand the darker connotations of this poem and the circumstances around why this poem was written.

It helped to gain a deeper understanding of the poem and the feelings of the author as he wrote the poem. It revealed a deep level of meaning especially for the author. It also gave useful insight at why this poem was written and the feeling behind the poem. It helped me understand how impactful the death of his wife and their children was on Robert Frost. All in All, the research for the topic of this poem and the circumstances behind it were very informative, educational, and enlightening.

Analysis of Style

Superficially, the speaker’s attitude toward the poem is peaceful contemplation as he watches the woods fill with snow and reminisces of his obligations. The forest is void of any distractions and the speaker placidly watches the woods and admires it’s beauty. Although he remembers about the busyness of his life through the horse’s personification. “He gives his harness bells a shake, To ask if there is some mistake.” The horse is clearly confused as to why they have stopped and reminds the speaker of his promises. The speaker quietly and peacefully listens to the wind as snow blows by him.

“The only other sound’s the sweep, Of easy wind and downy flake.” This is an example of the speaker’s attitude reflected in the poem. The serene tone of the poem is derived from the speaker’s attitude towards the poem. The speaker’s attitude of peaceful contemplation helps establish the serene tone of voice used in the poem. It also contributes to the tone because it reveals the speaker’s emotion and demeanor while dictating this poem. In a darker connotation the speaker’s attitude towards the poem are fatigued and suicidal.

Although the speaker’s attitude is the same at the beginning of the poem it changes continually throughout the poem. The speaker’s attitude changes the meaning of the lines in the poem. For example, “The darkest evening of the year(Frost),” in a darker connotation means the most bleak or dreary evening of the year. It is also the point at which the speaker’s attitude has a definitive change. It shows the speaker’s suicidal attitude as he starts to think darker thoughts. As the speaker’s attitude changes the tone changes as well. The tone changes to a dark more ominous tone.

The woods now represent a dark place where he can end it all. Also, In a darker connotation the horse’s personification shows the horse trying to get the speaker back from the speaker’s dark viewpoint and back on track to fulfilling the promises. The speaker’s weariness and fatigue comes in at the end of the poem with the repetition of, “And Miles to go before I Sleep, And Miles to go before I Sleep (Frost).” He remembers the miles to go to fulfill his obligations through the repetition and feels demoralized. The speaker’s attitude are tremendous contributors to the meaning, tone, and connotation of the poem.


Today I held an Interview with Yvette Hay, my mother, to talk about the poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” As she read the title I asked what the poem could be about based on the title? She responded that the poem will be about, “The author is talking a leisurely walk through the forest during the evening as snow is falling.” As she read the poem her first impressions of the poem were that it was a nice, simple poem.

She identified in the poem that there is lots of imagery and that it is a very descriptive poem. She believed that the poem told a story and that it is a form of narrative poetry. As we delved deeper into the poem we discussed the meanings of the first, second, third, and fourth stanza. In her opinion the first stanza tells of, “[The speaker] recognizing the area and knowing the person who owns it but there are things he must do so he needs to keep going (Hay).”

In her opinion the second stanza meant that the horse is cold and the horse wants to keep moving. It is questioning the speaker as to why they have stopped. Continuing to the third stanza it meant that the horse is trying to get the rider to keep moving and to complete what he needs to do. Finally, the fourth stanza meant that the speaker is traveling and is coming from afar. He sees the woods but can’t stop and it is getting darker.

Next, we discussed the question of if there was more than one meaning that can be observed in this poem. We disagreed and in her opinion she believed that was no other meaning than could be identified in the poem. I believed that there is two meaning to this tale. That there is a darker connotation of a desperate, weary, and depressed traveler. We had a very brief but heated discussion but anyway on to the next question.

After she assessed the meaning of this poem I asked why do you think the author wrote this poem? She answered that the author wrote it based on his own experience. “Traveling to somewhere and as he saw the woods it inspired him to wanted to write a poem about it.” In her opinion she believes the author derived the idea and or topic from his own real life experiences.

On that note I transitioned into discussing the author’s feeling when writing this poem. I filled her in using the information gathered during the research for the biography on the author’s life. She stated that, “The author clearly had many hardships and wrote the poems using the feeling from those hardships to spur him on (Hay).” She continued to say that the author clearly used these poems as a memento of his loved ones to show how much he cared for them.

To wrap things up she concluded that, “It was a poem written based on the author’s feelings, hardships, and experiences. It was a simpler poem with a simple theme of getting what needs to be done in life first before indulging in your own simple pleasures(Hay).”

Concluding Response

Poetry is a literary form in which the author expresses his experiences, feelings,or attitude to make the poem into a beautiful collage of imagery/description, depth/ abstract meanings, rhyme, and literary devices. There are many different forms, themes, abstract meanings and writing structures for or of poetry. During this project the research helped to give me a clearer and greater understanding of poetry especially the poem that this project focused on, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The question I asked myself most was how a poet’s life can affect a poem and through the biography this question was answered. For Robert Frost his life and tragedies were formative for his writing career in poetry.

As well as his this poems. Throughout this paper I have focused and analyzed the two themes/connotations/meanings. The superficial serene traveler who waits by the forest only to realize he has promised to keep and fulfill. Also, this dark topic of a weary suicidal traveler bogged down with the weigh of all his obligations content to end it all in the snowy woods he thinks he knows on the darkest evening of the year. These connotations were central to the massive reservoir of meaning and information researched during this project.

I have analyzed/learned a great deal of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” including it’s form, circumstance, poetic devices, its tone, theme, rhymes scheme, more meanings, and even the author’s attitude. This paper is filled with analysis after analysis of this poem. Each one deeper and more thorough than the next. It is astonishing how one poem could hold so much information waiting to be on covered. Poetry is a very expansive and in depth topic. It must be thought about in order to fully and complete understand its depth and magnitude of meanings. This poetry project helped me to see that through the research of this very poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.

Work Cited

  1. Frost, Robert. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” PoetryFoundation. N.p. Web. 3 February, 2019.
  2. “Frost Robert Lee(1874-1963).” Encyclopedia of the World. (1998). GaleGroup. Web. 22 January 2019.
  3. Perkins, George., et al. “Frost, Robert (Lee) (1874-1963).” Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia of American Literature, vol 1, HarperCollins, (1991): 359. GaleGroup. Web. 22 January 2019.
  4. Pritchard, William H. “Frost’s Life and Career.” english.Illinois.edu. N.p. N.p. Web. 23 January, 2019.
  5. Saputra, Alexander R.B. “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening.” academia.edu. N.p, June 2014. Web. 20 January 2019.
  6. Hay, Yvette. Personal Interview. 3 February 2019. http://english.Illinois.edu
  7. http://academia.edu


Cite this paper

Robert Frost’s Poetry Analysis. (2021, Dec 18). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/robert-frosts-poetry-analysis/

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