Literature Analysis/Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

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Introduction[edit]

This is the first learning project of the Literature Analysis series that I have started so that the interested participants can get to study the concept of analyzing pieces of prose or poetry or both through live examples.

Aims and Objectives of the learning project[edit]

Aims[edit]

The aims of the learning project are:

  1. To give an easily understandable and a sufficient amount of analysis of a particular poem chosen from the English literature
  2. To try to generate an active interest among the readers for poetry

Objectives[edit]

The objectives of the learning project are:

  1. To analyse each stanza of the chosen poem for the tangible and the intangible meanings;
  2. To understand the various tools of the English literature by understanding their applications and usage in the particular poem;
  3. To understand the actual meaning of the poem;
  4. To provide the steps for analysing poetry.

The Poem[edit]

The poem that will be analysed in this learning project is called ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ and it has been written by a poet called Robert Frost.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
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's 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.

The poem has been taken from a website called Poetry Foundation. Its source is as follows: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171621

The whole poem is a first person narration of a horse mounted traveler who is talking about the scenery of a particular place as he has temporarily halted there.

Stanza 1[edit]

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.

The poem start with a hint of doubt shown by the narrator about ownership of the forest that lies in his path towards his destination. The narrator talks about knowing who might be the owner of a lightly forested area, which is represented by the word woods, and he may be living in a village near to this area. Since he lives a little far away from this area, he will not see the narrator look at or appreciate his forest in which the falling snow settle on its tress and falls on the ground.

The stanza displays that the narrator’s mood at this point of time is extremely pensive and philosophical to some extent. It shows that the narrator considers the whole experience of getting to see a forest during winter time as a privilege.

The Rhyming takes place in the first, second and the fourth line of the stanza in form of words know, though and snow respectively.


Stanza 2[edit]

My little horse must think its queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
the darkest evening of the year

The narrator says that his horse would find it odd for them both to stop by an area which is not their stated destination. This shows that the narrator is currently working in a country side or a rural area. And the fact that the horse knows that they have to stop by a farmhouse also hints at the fact that the task they are doing is not a new one and the narrator might be doing it in a repeated manner as and when required.

The area is described to be having a forest with a lake that has frozen in the winter season and at this point of time it happens to be an evening which he considers to be the darkest one of that particular year.

This stanza gives a more vivid description of the scene in terms of the time of the day and the geographic features of the forest.

It also tells us about the destination of the narrator which offers some food for thought about the nature and the location of the profession of the narrator.

The Rhyming takes place in the first, second and the fourth line of the stanza in form of words queer, near and year respectively.

Stanza 3[edit]

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 narrator then says that his horse makes a little movement which shakes up bells attached to his harness. This he considers as a questioning act which is deliberately done, by the horse, to raise the point about the narrator forgetting the correct address of their destination. But the tinkling sound of the bells gets suppressed by the sound being produced in the whole area due to the blowing wind and the snowfall.

This stanza reflects the symbiotic relationship that the narrator shares with his horse which shows that the narrator regularly travels by the means of horse riding and he and his horse know each other due to their travels together. It also tells us about the ambient sound due to the wind blowing loudly and the snow fall as they both are taking place simultaneously.

The Rhyming takes place in the first, second and the fourth line of the stanza in form of words shake, mistake and flake respectively.

Stanza 4[edit]

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

The narrator beautifies and adjectivises the joyful beauty of that lovely, dark and deep forest by saying that its scenery is beautiful and attractive and charming but he has duties to do. And then he emphasizes upon the fact that he has a lot of distance to cover to reach out to his destination which can then set him free to relax and rest.

This stanza has a very deep meaning and it illuminates the psyche of the narrator. It seems that the narrator finds the forest very attractive and yearns to spend some time near it & admire the surroundings. But he has tasks to complete and promises to keep, promises he made to his loved ones and himself This shows that he is focused and professional due to which he is able to concentrate on his work and perform in a better manner. The Narator ends the poem with the last two lines which has a deep meaning, the narator says that he has 'miles to go' before he sleeps. This sleep here means death and when he will die. He says he has miles, meaning there is a long time before his endless sleep. The previous lines mean that he must accomplish his tasks at hand and keep his promises in the miles left until his sleep.

The Rhyming takes place in the first, second and the third line of the stanza in form of words deep, keep and sleep respectively.

The third and fourth lines of the stanza are a case of Repetition which is done to emphasize upon a point that has been discussed before.

Conclusion[edit]

This poem is meant to reflect those moods and sentiments when a person wants to relax and do something that he or she enjoys or likes doing but is forced to work on his or her professional tasks load as they are more important at that point of time and they need to be done within in stipulated time frame or before a stated deadline.

It talks about the attitude of the narrator who is a seasoned professional and who knows his priorities properly. He has some work to do and even though he wants to stop by a forest and watch its scenery that may prove to be soothing and relaxing for him, he reminds himself of his professional approach and then carries on with his journey to finish his task.

There is a website which the readers can check up if they want to know more about how to analyse a poem in a sequential and orderly manner: http://www.wikihow.com/Analyze-Poetry


Assessment[edit]

I have given a few questions below for those who are interested in getting their knowledge tested after going through the content:

  1. What is the name of the poem and the poet?
  2. Would you like to memorize the poem?
  3. Please identify the Rhyming sequence of each of the four stanzas in the poem?
  4. What do you think about the obvious and the hidden meaning of the poem?
  5. What are the different types of poetic tools used in the English literature?
  6. What poetic tools have been used in this poem?
  7. Do you relate with the theme of the poem If yes, why? If no, why not?
  8. Did this learning project make you like reading up more poetry?
  9. Would you like to take up literature analysis as a hobby?