‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’- Critical appreciation

Critical appreciation of ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’

Introduction

The poem was published first in The New Republic in its 7th March number of 1923. It is one of the most popular of Frosts lyrics. Indian readers attach special importance to it because our beloved Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru had placed it on his desk to remind him of his manifold responsibilities to himself and the nation and the world.

Analysis of the poem

The poem is meditative in tone and texture. It gives a fine description of the landscape. The author is journeying by the woods and he is suddenly struck with beauty, mystery and peace of the forest in the winter evening when the snow is falling silently and filling the deep woods filling with flakes of snow. It is almost perfect silent.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The frozen lake and the gentle wind, deep dark forest, warmth during the snow-fall. It is snow-fall. It is the darkest evening of the year.

The poet’s onward march is suddenly arrested by this lovely right. He stop to look at the beauty of the ‘woods fill up with snow. It must have stopped for quite sometime to make his horse restive and shake his harness bells to remind him that perhaps he has stopped there by mistake, since there was no farmhouse near where he might wish to rest. To the animal with practical sense it seemed foolish to stop in the snow fall. This reminds the poet that he cannot rest there and then how so much he might wish to do so. We cannot enjoy beauty and mystery howsoever keenly we might like to do so, because there are other things more important than enjoyment of beauty, enchantment of darkness, mystery and death. Rest and sleep must wait because he miles to go before he could find time for rest and sleep.

Critical comments

There are moments when we with to stop in the middle of the journey of our life, to lay down the burden of duties and responsibilities and rest. Sometimes it may be a kind of death-which overtakes us when we are tired of the journey of life. But a man with strong, sense of duty overcomes this weakness for beauty and comfort and rest and sleep and death. He gives priority to his obligations and commitments to himself and others, to his duty towards family, society, nations and our fellow human beings belonging to other races and countries.

Thus we see that the poem progresses from the personal to the general and universal. It is symbolic poem and a symbolic journey and halt.

Conclusion

The rhythm of the poem is in keeping with its subtle meditative tone. The poem is remarkable for its simplicity of language. There is hardly a word which needs explanation. Monosyllabic words predominate. The three lines of stanza rhyme. This also determines the length of the poem such a rhyme scheme could not be sustained for long. The poem is simple and brings home its meaning most unobtrusively. That accounts for its popularity.

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