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Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 955 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Robert Frost is a four-time Pulitzer Prize winning American poet that may possibly have the most impressive poetic writing skill of any writer ever (C.D. Merriman). Frost claims to have written “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” in one single night (Spark Notes: Frost’s early poems). His impressive organization and figurative language creates a deeper meaning than what the surface seems to offer at first glance. Frost’s symbolism for death seems to have something to do with the loss of his sister, wife, and two children (C.D. Merriman). Robert Frost uses a unique rhyme scheme, symbolism, and figurative language to express his perspective on life and death in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”.

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The title of the poem describes almost exactly what Robert Frost is illustrating throughout the four stanzas. It introduces the reader to the setting and the physical actions of the speaker. The title tells the reader that the speaker is standing in the woods on a cold winter evening. It starts to suggest what happens when he stops by the woods, also. Finally, the theme of the poem is introduced. The theme is that life should be lived to its fullest and not cut off short, and that people should view their life positively. The title begins to express that theme by stating that the reader is stopping by the woods to possibly reflect on their life and realize how great it is and how much more they have ahead of them.

The figurative language used in this poem is mostly defined by diction and personification. The diction Robert Frosts uses is serious but in a soft spoken tone. The speaker is just walking by, observing. There is nothing too special going on in the setting other than snow gently falling. Frost uses words like “Of easy wind and downy flake” (Frost, Robert) in line 8 that portrays a calm setting. He also says “To watch his woods fill up with snow” (Frost, Robert) to show that the character is strangely intrigued with the simplicity of snowfall. Frost uses personification in “My little horse must think it queer” and “To ask if there is some mistake” (Frost, Robert). The horse obviously cannot think for itself or ask questions, but personifying the horse in this way shows a sense of friendship between the speaker and the horse.

Another poetic device Frost incorporates into his poem is a metaphor. “The woods are lovely, dark, and deep” (Frost, Robert) creates a descriptive image of gorgeous winter woods that go on forever and are extravagantly appealing not only to the reader, but to the character who stopped by to stare at them. The figurative language used in this poem captures the reader and brings them into the story with the speaker, giving them a true sense of what it was like to be staring at those woods.

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” has a very distinctive rhyme scheme. It is complete with four almost identical stanzas. In all of them except the last one the first, second, and fourth line all rhyme. The third line then rhymes with the next stanzas first, second, and fourth line. It sort of “leads into” the next stanza. Each line is iambic, with four stressed syllables (Spark Notes: Frost’s early poetry). The final stanza however, is different in the way that all the lines rhyme, and the last line is repeated. The unique rhyme in this poem is nevertheless impressive. It also creates a rhythm, although a slow one when combined with the diction. The rhyme moves the poem along, while also allowing the reader to embrace the words in this poem. The rhyme also creates a mood for the reader that is smooth and calm, which fits right in with the rest of the poem. Frost uses the rhyme scheme to relate the way he feels about life and death to the readers by getting people to think of life the way the character does and his time until death.

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The majority of the symbolism comes in the last stanza. This is the group of four lines that really get the reader thinking, and makes them stop for a second and analyze what Frost’s true intentions were in writing this poem. The woods he describes in the first line are symbolism of the speaker’s life. He is saying that they have had a good, full, and wonderful life like the lovely, deep woods. The second line refers to the speaker’s obligations outside of those woods, possibly to a family. The third and fourth lines are the true symbolism that Frost baffles readers with. “And miles to go before I sleep” (Frost, Robert) means that they have a while to walk before he can take a break and sleep. But, on a deeper level it means that the speaker still has a life to live until they die. Even though they have had a great life, it is still not over. This last stanza all together turns the poem around from just being about someone in the woods, into a meaningful poem about the glass of life being half full, not half empty. Frost uses the symbolism to create a deeper meaning of the character’s stop in the woods.

Figurative language, symbolism, and a unique rhyme scheme are creatively organized together into “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” to portray Robert Frost’s inner thoughts on life and death. The theme of this poem is something that everyone should really consider about their own lives. It’s a principle that could change an overall attitude and be contagious to those around that person. Life is too short to dwell on the negatives. You should ask yourself… “How do I view my life?” Answering that could truly change your life, forever.


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