Friday, February 29, 2008

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 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's 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.

Robert Frost published this in 1923, constructed in the iambic tetrameter, this poem was a favourite of Frost's and he considered it his "best bid for remembrance". Frost's poem has come represent many things to many people, Pundit Jawarhalal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, is rumoured to have kept a framed copy in his office.

This was one of the poems that I had to deconstruct in university for Introduction to Poetry which every student of English must do. As someone who has a more than passing acquaintance with depression it has much meaning with it's references to darkest evening of the year and the lovely, deep darkness of woods and long sleep. It is quite beautiful but it is also frightening because one interpretation is that this poem is about suicide. I don't know if this was Frost's intention, dark woods and trees were a preoccupation of the poet; but despite or maybe because of it's seeming darkness, Stopping by the woods has become a part of popular culture and has been quoted in many movies, television programmes and cartoons. Every so often, when I become weary I re-visit it. As a writer, I admire the simplicity and poignancy of the verse. And I know, I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

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