Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
In Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy evening, the speaker shares a private moment in the hushed snowfall as he stops during travel. This poem speaks to us of being caught between the pull of two worlds even using the words “between the woods and frozen lake” to show us his predicament. By looking closer at the language of this poem, it is possible to discern which two worlds he is speaking of.
The metaphor of the frozen lake has clear connotations with femininity. Water, itself, is a feminine element. The waters of life, the waters of the womb and birth are all closely linked to the power of the feminine, but it is important to note that the speaker states they are frozen. They do not move. Water is an element that naturally moves, flows, and conforms to the shape of any container it is put in. He is standing near a place of stagnated water and thus it seems stagnated feminine energy.
Conversely, “the woods are lovely, dark and deep” from the speaker’s prospective. This is a place of mystery. This is an alluring domain he wishes he could enter if only he was not held fast by his promises. When the thought of what lovely, dark, and deep things live in the woods is examined, the mythology of woods shows an endless parade of spirits, elves, and sprites. Some of the most significant creatures to be known to lurk in the woods are the green men, the horned god, satyrs, and pans. Even the word wood is used as a metaphor for masculine virility. The speaker even begins the poem by illustrating that these woods belong to a mysterious him who does not know our speaker is lurking within his woods for this stolen moment.
It is implied that our speaker is on a journey. This journey feels tiring and almost endless as implied by the repetition of the final stanza. He cannot leave this path that attends to a stagnated female energy. An unfeeling wife, a frigid mother, or perhaps even society’s expectation of this pursuit which gives him no joy. His horse urges him on. His horse cannot understand why he would linger here thinking of this man and his wood. Society cannot understand why he would linger here. Quite different from the road not taken, on this darkest evening of both the year and his heart, he knows he must sally forth fulfilling those promises he has made, unable to rest and so far from sleep.