Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost: A Complete Study

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.

I. Notes and Exercises:

Robert Frost: Robert Frost is one of the greatest of American poets. He received more honours than any other contemporary literary figure in America. Four times he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. He was given honorary degrees by more than forty colleges and universities. Frost has won worldwide fame and recognition as a poet. The first thing that strikes the eye is the extreme simplicity of his poetry. He writes on the simplest themes in the most easy and simple manner. Due to this he is appreciated by the readers. They go to him again and again without any trouble. A careful reading of his poems reveals that he is extraordinary, subtle and intricate. They have a rich texture. There we find layers within the layers of meaning. He makes extensive use of symbols to convey profound truths. In this respect he can be compared with Eliot, Yeats, Pound and Auden.
Frost is popular for his extreme simplicity of style with profundity of thought. He wrote in everyday speech. His language is simple but highly suggestive. He is a great artist with words. Through a proper arrangement of words he tried to produce all kinds of effects. His diction is full of variety. It is dramatic. It varies from character to character. His conversational language is regional. His symbolism is also interesting. In short, Frost is a great metrical artist.
Thus Robert Frost is a matchless poet who has left behind him many excellent poems like Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, The Road Not Taken, Fire and Ice, Mending Wall, Birches, Out Out, Nothing Gold Can Stay and Home Burial etc. His contribution to the American poetry is praiseworthy. It would be better to keep him in the category of genius who is of the view that a poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.

II. Summary of ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening is one of the most popular poems of Frost. It is said this fine lyric attracted the attention of the first Prime Minister of India. It starts as a simple composition but attains philosophical height at the end. It deals with the relation between man and nature and beautifully presents the conflict between the call of beauty and the call of duty. In the beginning of the poem the poet is overwhelmed by the beauty of the forest. But his horse reminds him of his worldly responsibilities. The poet feels that the woods are lovely, no doubt, but he has to go miles and miles before he sleeps. It means that before taking rest he has to perform several duties. In his poem ‘sleep, has two meanings – the night rest and the death. In short, the present poem deals with life and man’s role in the world.
III. Objective Questions:
1. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening is a poem by:
i. John Keats
ii. Wordsworth
iii. Robert Frost
iv. Whitman
Ans: Robert Frost
2. Robert Frost belongs to:
i. India
ii. America
iii. England
iv. China
Ans: America
3. The owner of the woods lives in:
i. City
ii. Town
iii. Village
iv. None of the above
Ans: Village
4. He gives his harness bells a shake. ‘He’ stands for:
i. Poet
ii. Woods
iii. Horse
iv. Reader
Ans: Horse
5. At the end of the poem the poet wants to:
i. Enter the woods
ii. Go to sleep
iii. Keep his promises
iv. Go home
Ans: Keep his promises
6. When was Robert Frost born?
i. 1871
ii. 1872
iii. 1873
iv. 1874
Ans: 1874
7. When did Robert Frost die?
i. 1961
ii. 1962
iii. 1963
iv. 1964
Ans: 1963

IV. Short Answer Type Questions:

1. What does the poet observe about the woods?
Ans: The poet observes that the woods are lovely, dark and deep filled with snow.
2. Where does the poet stop with his horse?
Ans: The poet stops in the woods beside a frozen lake.
3. Why does the horse give his harness bells a shake?
Ans: The horse gives his harness bells a shake to ask if there is some mistake.
4. Why does the poet stop by the woods?
Ans: The poet stops by the woods to enjoy its beauty.
5. What gives his harness bells a shake?
Ans: The poet’s horse gives his harness bells a shake.
6. What is the other sound that the poet hears besides the sound of the bells of the horse?
Ans: The other sound that the poet hears is the sound that is produced by the easy wind and downy flake.
7. Why can’t the poet stay in the woods?
Ans: The poet cannot stay in the woods because he has promises to keep and he still has miles to go.
8. What does the poet think about the woods?
Ans: The poet thinks that the beauty of the woods is illusory.


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