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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening': Analysis of the Poem

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‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ is a poem written in 1922 by the American poet Robert Frost, and was published in 1923 in his New Hampshire volume. The poem was written in a dark, calm and serene tone with the rhyme scheme AABA. It describes a disturbingly rural scene of the unproductive woods in winter and expresses the theme that people must focus on fulfilling their commitments and accomplishing their duties towards themselves and others without being distracted by the pleasures of life. Going through the poem ‘Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening’ , it is notable that the poem is loaded with various literary poetic devices which enriched the idea of this work of prose such as personification, imagery, symbols, metaphor, alliteration.

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The first poetic device is personification, it is defined as a thing – animal or idea – which is given human attributes. Personification is prominent in the second stanza when Robert Frost had personified the horse as a human being who can easily think whenever he passes by a breath taking natural scene ‘ My little horse must think it queer..’. Moving down to the next personification in which the third stanza starts with, “He gives his harness bells a shake/ to ask if there is some mistake’ the horse is addressed as a person who is ready to respond to his owner’s need to stop i.e. once his rider wants to stop and pause his journey, the horse can feel and sense this step before the rider himself and therefore he will start to question his owner about the reason why did he stop. Such expression made readers react emotionally to the non-human character which is the horse.

The second literary device is Imagery, it is widely used in poems to make readers feel things through their five senses. Frost included visual imagery in his poem such as house, woods and lake in order to help readers see the woods as a source of oblivion and comfort to a lonely traveler. at the end of the first stanza we get a crystal clear image as the poet describes the woods filling up with white snow. ‘Between the woods and frozen lake.. The darkest evening of the year’ here in these lines the image of sight can be seen throughout the view of woods which are covered by snow and the lake which is usually frozen at this time of the year. Another image appears in the last stanza ‘The woods are lovely, dark and deep’ this description helps the readers to visualize the scene of woods more clearly.

The third literary device is symbols, this device helps the poet to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings. In line 2 , the ‘village ‘ is interpreted as a symbol for society and civilization. in line 6’ farmhouses ‘ might not be the best place in the world , but they usually involve humans. Because of this , our poet mentioned the farmhouses to represent society and civilization. moreover , the woods stands for an uncorrupted place where the travelers wishes to live in.

The forth literary device is metaphor. It can be defined as a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. The poem does not contain many metaphors . However , there is one extended metaphor in the fourth stanza , the last line ‘ miles to go before I sleep.” Here , miles embodies life’s journey , while sleep embodies eternal sleeping which is death .

The fifth poetic device is alliteration, it is the repetition of the same consonant sounds in the same lines in a poem. “watch his woods”, “sound’s the sweep”, “His house”, ‘dark and deep’, ‘whose woods’ These phrases are examples of alliteration that exist in the poem which were used by Frost in order to grab readers attention to a particular part of a text.

Finally, defamiliariztion and contrast. Defamiliariztion can be defined as the repetition of a word, a phrase, an idea or a certain pattern of sound. An example of defamiliariztion in this poem is ‘ And miles to go before I sleep. /And miles to go before I sleep.’ Here Frost considered these two lines as being very important, that is why he made his narrator repeat it twice in order to emphasize that he must return now to the real world and his horse is helping him by shaking his bells to remind him that they both have a long way to reach their destination. Moreover, contrast in literature is any difference between two or more tangible or abstract entities, in this poem contrast can be seen in the first line ‘Whose woods these are I think I know.’

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