I think I know who owns this land, but he lives in the village and is not here to see me stopping to watch snow gather in the woods. My horse is probably confused why we are stopping somewhere without a farmhouse, in the middle of nowhere, on the year’s darkest night. The horse shakes his harness bells to ask what we are doing. The only other sound I hear is from the wind and snowfall. This spot is beautiful and solitary, but I have an obligation and a long way to travel before I can go to bed.
Figurative Meaning of Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is an ode to nature and its solitude. Frost as a poet is known for his verbal images of nature and landscapes. While this particular poem is not a stand-alone metaphor or commentary on something, it does have deeper meaning than simply being about a single stop in the woods. In the first few lines, Frost separates man and nature.
The poet begins “Whose woods these are” (line 1), establishing the setting and subject of the woods, and follows with “His house is in the village” (line 2), immediately separating and distancing man from the subject of nature. But although they are separate, the speaker is lucky enough to experience nature as it is undisturbed. He notes that the landowner “will not see” (line 3), making this a sort of secret between the speaker and the woods.
The speaker mentions darkness twice: once noting that it is the darkest night of the year (line 8) and again describing the woods. The first time darkness is mentioned it is in expressing how the speaker’s horse is uneasy stopping in the middle of nowhere. In this context, darkness is added as a reason for trepidation and confusion. In the last stanza, the speaker calls the woods “lovely, dark, and deep” (line 13) equating darkness to other positive qualities of the woods. When the subject is a domesticated being, darkness is off-putting but when the subject is nature, darkness is something else. This exemplifies the way civilization skews nature and ideas of nature. Darkness is natural and even calming to the speaker, but it is known as something to fear.