Robert Frost is often thought of as the quintessential American poet. He pairs calm, serene American settings with calm, serene feelings of his narration. His poems capture both ordinary human experiences and the imagination, in addition to creating unforgettable rhythms and sounds in the colloquial language of New England. “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” is one of his best known works, and explores the theme of obligations versus man’s desire for peace of mind. While the narrator in the story wants to stop and admire the world around him and the peace he finds in nature, he knows he has obligations to keep so he must move on. This is a common experience many students will recognize, as they also have obligations that keep them from doing the things they really want to do.
It is a cold winter’s night, the darkest night of the year, and the wind is blowing while the snow is falling. The narrator is riding through the woods with his horse. He finds himself on the land of a man who lives in the village and stops to look around. The narrator muses that his horse must think it odd that they’re stopping in the middle of the woods, and as if to answer, the horse shakes his harness bells. The narrator notes that the only other sound is the wind and snow. He is taken in by the lovely dark beauty of the woods, but he knows he can’t stay in the woods all night admiring them. He says that he has obligations, including more miles to travel, and promises to keep.