My favorite thing about Robert Frost”s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is definitely that its simple form is mirrored by its simple imagery, but both the form and wording open up to show more depth. When I read or hear a four-line-stanza poem, my mind tends to naturally expect an AABB or ABAB rhyme scheme.
This poem is AABA, and while it does not necessarily sound unusual to me, it is one step further from what my mind would have naturally gone to, so it is a little more interesting to focus on. After reading “He will not see me stopping here,” my mind sort of prepared itself to hear a rhyme like “cheer” or “fear,” but instead it reverted back to the original rhyme. Similarly, Frost”s tone in the poem evolves with subtle nuances beyond what I originally expected it would be.
Poems simply describing nature without equating it to an object or person sometimes tend to get stuck in a certain descriptive tone because it is much easier to write about a subject with inherent feeling behind it. “Stopping” does not fall into the trap of being purely descriptive. It does not so much focus on describing the scenery as it does on analyzing the moment, but a very good picture of the scenery is still painted. In such a compact poem, the trick to building a big picture is creating a scenario that the reader can easily complete.
Frost adds the key details of the type of weather and atmosphere he wants to portray (heavy snow in the dark woods), and the reader”s mind finishes the scene around it (trees, brush, hills, etc). It is very easy to over-analyze poems and look for meaning that is not there. This poem almost does not allow that. It is so specific that it cannot quite be a symbol for something else, but is worded in such a way that it evokes familiar feelings and images.