Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
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.
The use of
the unusual rhyme scheme here creates a strange combination of the effects of
halting and moving on. The differing line endings in the third lines of the
first three stanzas give the impression of stopping the easy flow of the
poem. Yet it is precisely these third lines that carry the movement on to the
next stanza. Thus when we come to the last stanza of the poem where the
rhymes no longer change, we have a feeling of both an incessant movement and
a full stop.
structure very closely corresponds to the main theme of the poem which is
based precisely on a juxtaposition of stopping and moving on. Whereas
movement is usually associated with a conscious decision and with effort,
here it seems that stopping would require an effort. To stop is more
difficult and more problematic for the speaker than to move on. He would like
to stop and step out of the incessant movement (which is associated in the
text with social obligations, the promises to keep), but he finds that his
individual desire is not powerful enough to counter the social ties that bind
him and force him to move on. In the end, therefore, he gives up the effort and
surrenders to the monotonous, automatic, incessant movement that he
apparently considers life to be.
struggle and the outcome are indicated by the development of the rhyme