Friday, February 1, 2013

ENGLISH CLASS: Interpreting Dark Poems

For my English class, we're reading poems by poets such as Robert Frost, or "ee cummings." Today, I'll be sharing one out of three poems. This one is my personal favorite.

Stopping by the 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.

What's the first impression of this poem? What does it appear to be about? At first, on the most literal level, it's about this:

A man stops by some woods on his horse. He knows there is a man owning these woods, yet he does not think that man is here right now. He talks about his horse wondering where the farmhouse or shelter is. It's the darkest evening of the year. The horse asks if there is some mistake, but evidently, the man doesn't think so. He thinks the woods are great, and pretty, but he must leave now.

That's the most LITERAL interpretation. Before we went over it in my English class, I thought of it that way, too. But, really, it's about something way more deep, dark, and morbid. I'll tell you right now.
Two words: DEATH WISH.

This man is thinking about killing himself. 

In Stanza Number One, he's not talking about some rich man owning the woods. He's talking about God, and how God doesn't stay here in these woods. So, there won't be anything to stop this man, or protect him.

In Stanza Number Two, the little horse represents something: the man's conscience. He knows that he shouldn't stop here without some shelter, between the woods(death) and the frozen lake(even more death), in the darkest evening of the year. Why would he stop by the woods on the coldest day ever, if he doesn't want to at least hurt himself?

In Stanza Number Three, his conscience gives what a shake? His harness bells. And when else do you give bells a shake? When a king dies.

In Stanza Number Four, the final one, he says how it's so tempting to just stay there in those cold woods, just let himself freeze to death. But he has miles to go before he sleeps, or rather, years to go before he dies.

I realize this is really morbid, but it's really interesting to me how Robert Frost wrote this poem. He claims to have written in all in one standing. (I agree, if one standing can take four days straight.) It's my favorite poem, because it sounds so innocent, when really, it's about something way more powerful.

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