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Thursday, July 31st, 2014

A Pause in the Night


In his poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," Robert Frost comes across as just a good descriptive poet. On closer readings however, he cleverly inserts hints of a deeper story. Frost, through his use of setting, rhyme, and imagery, portrays the idea of a pause in a long journey. The narrator sits for a moment, watching the silent woods as he rests for a moment on his journey.

The rhyme of this poem helps to emphasize the pause and the resumption of a journey. The stanzas all rhyme the first, second, and fourth lines. The third line, rhymes with the next stanza's lines. This helps to encourage the idea of moving forward, continuing on with the journey. The only exception is the last stanza. The third line rhymes with the other three. In fact, the third line is repeated in the last line. This symbolizes the drudging monotony of a journey. Another thing the rhymes show is the pause, then continuation of the journey. The first two stanzas have a softer rhyme. The third stanza is a hard rhyme, interrupting the flow. The last stanza returns to the soft rhyming.

The imagery also helps with the concept of interruption. The images in the poem are mostly visual. Stopping "[t]o watch the woods fill up with snow"; recognition of the surrounding terrain, the dark night are all visual. However, in the third stanza, in which the interruption happened, all the images shift from visual to auditory, jolting the traveler out of his thought. The bells ringing, the sounds of a breeze, and of the snow falling.

Frost included subtle hints as to the setting. "The darkest evening of the year." is likely referring to the Winter Solstice, which is December 22. Also, his horse has bells on his harness. Those sort of bells are commonly associated with Christmas time. In the very first line, Frost is implying that the traveler is starting to recognize the terrain, nearing his home. These clues add more meaning to the last stanza. "But I have promises to keep," such as being home for Christmas morning. "And miles to go before I sleep." Not just sleeping, but a bed within your own house is always more comfortable than one away from home. He is riding at night, trying to reach his bed and to make it home for Christmas.

"He will not see me stopping here." also adds a flavor to the setting. not only is it night, it's late night. There's no chance that he could be here; it's an unreasonable hour to be out and about. While that does add to setting, it also adds something to the character. This man is traveling all day and night, in a time without cars, highways, and streetlights, just to make it home. The narrator is devoted to making it home.

Throughout the poem, Frost manages to create subtle hints to this Christmastime trek. He portrays a long journey, but also the idea of hope. There is hope that he will arrive soon. That he will see his family soon, and sleep in his own bed. It doesn't say how long he's been away, but implied is that he's been gone a while. In the second stanza, the narrator seems lost in thought. He's likely think about his family, dreaming of the end of the journey. Also implied is the love for his family, that he wants to spend Christmas with them.

- by ThrawnFett
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