Stopping By Woods On Life’s Journey

Another great work by Robert Frost along with some insights into the poem that I wrote back in my college days.

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

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.

“When viewed as a parable, Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening” can give several insights into life. To gain such insight one must first understand the poem’s parabolic meaning. The writings of St. Paul help us to more clearly see the poem’s meaning. The application to life is then obvious.

On one level the poem is merely about a man pausing to enjoy the scenery as he passes through the woods “lovely, dark, and deep”. Upon further investigation, the poem takes on a deeper and broader meaning. The poem becomes a parable about a man traveling the journey of life, pausing for a moment to reflect and enjoy his surroundings and then continuing towards his goal. But this poem is about more than “stopping to smell the roses”. St. Paul helps bring out what is contained in the last few lines: “But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep…”. The poem seems to parrallel Paul’s words to the early church “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Heb. 12:1).

Life has often been refered to as a journey, a race, or an adventure because time is short. One must be careful to live his life or it will soon be wasted. The poet doesn’t end there, though. Beyond his acknowledgement that he must continue the race, he seems to sigh as he repeats the last line of the poem. This is not a sigh of despair, but rather one of weariness at the task ahead. The poet seems to wish – is some small degree – for his race to be over. To be able to say with Paul “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). I believe most people have felt this way one time or another.

I have often felt this weariness amidst life’s constant challenges. I view life as a game, and I love to play it. While I have accomplished much in my 20 short years on the this earth, much is still unfinished and even more unstarted. It is difficult to constantly balance my priorities of mind, body, soal and still have time for friends and family. I think that when one thinks about all he has left to do, one can’t help but sigh like the poet Robert Frost.

Robert Frost was a great poet. This was not because of proper phrasing or word choice, but because of his ability to percieve and convey life’s experiences.” — S. Kuban

Adding to these words the respected Faulkner authority Arlie Herron commented “The words describing the tempting woods – lovely, dark, and deep suggests our longing for mystery – something beyond the mundane ‘duties’.” (original emphasis)