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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

An in-depth analysis of the famous Robert Frost poem.

Savannah Arnette

on 21 March 2013

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Transcript of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

"Stopping by Woods Savannah Arnette Personification Effective Diction Alliteration/Symbol Imagery Structure Repetition Tone Speaker Title Setting The speaker of the poem is unnamed, either a man or woman, traveling by horse, who stops by the woods when captivated by the beauty of them. He or she is obviously amazed by nature and really appreciates it. The poem is set near woods that are isolated from civilization ("his house is in the village though", "without a farmhouse near")

It is the winter time ("fill up with snow", "frozen lake", "downy flake"). The title is self-explanatory. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is the main event of the entire poem. At some parts of the poem, there is an ominous tone ("darkest evening of the year", "He will not see me stopping here", "some mistake").

At other parts, you can get a hint at an appreciative tone through the speaker's interest in nature ("The woods are lovely", "to watch his woods fill up with snow")

By the end of the poem, there is a conflicting tone. The speaker wants to stay, but he has to leave. Rhyme scheme. (a,a,b,a - b,b,c,b - c,c,d,c - d,d,d,d)

know, though, here, snow
queer, near, lake, year
shake, mistake, sweep, flake
deep, keep, sleep sleep.

Frost takes the misfit word from the previous stanza and makes it the common rhyme in the next, until he gets to the last stanza and all of the words rhyme together. This gives the sense of resolution. The last two lines are repeated.
"And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep."

This repetition emphasizes just how many miles that the speaker has to travel. Saying the statement over elongates the idea, giving that interpretation.

The repetition also gives the illusion that this particular sentence has a higher meaning. At first you believe the speaker means the miles he or she has to go to get back home, but then it seems like the miles are actually the years in his life, and the sleep being more of an eternal sleep. Visual imagery: "watch his woods fill up with snow", "little horse", "between the woods and frozen lake", "miles to go".

Tactile imagery: "frozen lake", "easy wind and downy flake".

Auditory imagery: "He gives his harness bells a shake"

All three of these help the reader visualize and
immerse his or herself into the poem. The horse is personified: "...to ask if there is some mistake"

The wind and snow are also personified:
"The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake".

Sense of companionship even in isolation. The word "queer" to describe the horse's mood is significant. Instead of saying "strange", Frost uses "queer" which sounds strange in itself (the q sound), emphasizing the bizarre nature of the speaker stopping.

The word "frozen" used to describe the lake helps the reader both feel and visualize the lake in the dead of winter.

The word "downy" used to describe the flakes of snow is better than just saying "soft", "downy" gives more of a comforting sense and helps create tactile imagery. The "s" sound is alliterated in line 11:
"The only other sound's the sweep
of easy wind and down flake."
The "s" sound reminds me of the sound that wind makes, which is what it's trying to describe, creating auditory imagery.

Line 8: "The darkest evening of the year" could have a double meaning. Instead of just being a dark winter night, it could also be a symbol for depression, or a very dark time in the speaker's life. 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 hereTo watch his woods fill up with snow.My little horse must think it queer5To stop without a farmhouse nearBetween the woods and frozen lakeThe darkest evening of the year.He gives his harness bells a shakeTo ask if there is some mistake.10The only other sound's the sweepOf 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,15And miles to go before I sleep. Central Purpose and Focus This poem serves in both a literal meaning and a figurative meaning. The speaker is traveling and stops besides an isolated set of woods that takes him out of his daily life and trials. He wishes that he could stay, but has other responsibilities, so he goes home. The very last line being repeated begs for a deeper meaning. The "and miles to go before I sleep" could also mean that there are many more things in his/her life that he/she has to face before an eternal sleep, or death. I believe Frost wanted the reader to see that it's okay to stop and smell the roses once in a while. This purpose is very cleverly communicated through a single repeated line.
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