stopping by woods snowy evening

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is a poem written in 1922 by Robert Frost, and published in 1923 in his New Hampshire volume. Imagery and personification are prominent in the work. Frost wrote this poem about winter in June, 1922 at his house in Shaftsbury, Vermont that is now home to the "Robert Frost Stone House Museum." Frost had been up the entire night writing the long poem "New Hampshire" and had finally finished when he realized morning had come. He went out to view the sunrise and suddenly got the idea for "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." He wrote the new poem in just a few minutes and later stated that "It was as if I'd had a hallucination."

"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" was Frost's favorite of his own poems and Frost in a letter to Louis Untermeyer called it "my best bid for remembrance."

The poem is written in iambic tetrameter in the Rubaiyat stanza created by Edward Fitzgerald. Each verse (save the last) follows an a-a-b-a rhyming scheme, with the following verse's a's rhyming with that verse's b, which is a chain rhyme. Overall, the rhyme scheme is AABA-BBCB-CCDC-DDDD. There was also a song written for this poem.

This poem is largely regarded as a poem that contemplates death -- a few say it is about suicide -- but it is also recognized for its thematic appreciation of nature. Interestingly, when Frost was approached with the concept of this being a poem about death, he replied that he had simply stopped by a snowy wood and wrote the poem.

The poem in popular culture

The poem is frequently cited in popular culture; for example:

  • Post-grunge rock band Sponge used the last two lines of the poem in their song "Miles", which was included as track number 5 of their 1994 album Rotting Piñata.
  • Céline Dion's song "Miles to Go (Before I Sleep)" was based on the poem. The song can be found on her Let's Talk About Love album.
  • Leonard Cohen's song A Thousand Kisses Deep contains the lines "Miles to drive, and promises to keep" referencing the poem.
  • In season 2 of Mutantx there is an episode titled "whose woods these are" a reference to the first line of text.
  • The last stanza of the poem (with an alteration of the wording) was recited in Death Proof, Quentin Tarantino's segment from Grindhouse.
  • Robert Kennedy quoted from the poem at a tribute to his recently slain brother at the 1964 Democratic Convention in Atlantic City.
  • This poem is frequently referenced in Dean Koontz's 2007 novel The Darkest Evening of the Year. The title of the book is a line from the poem and the last four lines of the poem are displayed in the section headings of the book. Furthermore, certain events which take place in the book seem to be inspired by the poem, such as the events Amy experience in the snowy woods at night.
  • The final verse of this poem plays a prominent role in the 1977 film Telefon, acting as a post-hypnotic trigger for sleeper KGB agents in the United States. It is also the closing voice-over comment of the 2003 movie 16 Years of Alcohol.
  • In the Degrassi: The Next Generation episode Time Stands Still Part One, when practicing for the quiz, Mr Simpsons asks for the last line of this poem.
  • Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was greatly influenced by this poem that he kept beside him in his office.
  • In The Sopranos Season 3, Episode 2, Meadow helped explain the meaning of the poem to AJ, who was studying it for his class.
  • project pat recorded a song, 'Miles to go (Before I sleep)'.
  • The last line was referenced in "The Prom" and "Graduation Day: Part Two" episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • The final verse was referenced in the episode Cry your name from the second season of Roswell.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Frost appears as a guest on a old rerun of Krusty the Clown's show in which Krusty dumps a pile of snow on Frost while he is reading this poem (Frost reacts to this by saying, "We discussed this, and I said 'no'.").
  • In an episode of The Muppet Show (the one guest-starring Arlo Guthrie), Fozzie Bear attempts to read the poem to the audience, but Gonzo interrupts the reading with random tango dances.
  • In the movie Dreamcatcher based on a book by Stephen King, the alien that inhabited Jonesy's body recites the last few lines of this poem
  • In the book "The Talisman" by Peter Straub and Steven King, Jack references the last stanza while talking to Richard, adding on 'and you are still an utter creep'.
  • In The Wonder Years, Season 2, Episode 15 is named "Whose woods are these?"
  • Referenced by director/producer Sydney Pollack as a source of inspiration for his 1974 film The Yakuza, which deals with the theme of keeping promises. The claim that he kept the last stanza in mind while shooting the film is made towards the end of a vintage featurette called "...Promises to Keep" and early on in the Director's Commentary audio track, both of which can be found on the 2007 DVD edition of the film.
  • The last verse (The woods are lovely...) is quoted in Nicky Wires song Bobby Untitled, found on the album I Killed the Zeitgeist.
  • The last verse was cited by Frost himself at President Kennedy's inauguration ceremony


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