Illumination of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

I couldn’t find the printed copy of the poem I drew my illumination on so I’m just posting the text.

Stopping by 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.


For starters I chose this poem because for as long as I can remember I’ve known this poem word for word. When I was in elementary school I had to memorize a poem, and I was awful at memorization, so I read this poem about twenty times a day for two weeks until I finally had it down. I did more than just remember the poem for my class assignment, I remembered it for my entire life, and occasionally I look at it again whenever I need to use a poem for some kind of assignment and it seems like every time I look at this poem I notice or think about something I previously didn’t pay attention to. As a kid I obviously just pictured the entire scene of what is being described, the snow-filled woods and the horse that the speaker is riding, and along with that the sounds that Frost describes are easy to imagine. As I grew older and looked at the poem’s language, I noticed that some things really stand out about the poem, specifically the last two lines, “And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep”. As a kid I just thought sleep meant to sleep, but looking at it now it just always reads like Frost is saying death instead, and perhaps that makes the poem look a little more grim but honestly I’m inspired by the conviction that the speaker has to fulfill the promises he has made before he dies.

For the actual illumination of my poem, I selected the scene where the horse stops and the entire image just feels still. I drew the horse in the middle of a snowy clearing with a few trees behind it, because it says “Between the woods and frozen lake”. I didn’t draw the lake because I didn’t really know how to fit it in but if I had the room it’d be a little further off from the rider on the horse. The horse in the picture has its head down and its stopped outside of the patch of trees, and the rider is on the horse staring back into the forest because of the line, “To watch his woods fill up with snow”. The picture I drew itself isn’t really all that detailed, I wish I drew more and I had some ideas to draw the man who owns the woods but I didn’t really figure out a way to incorporate that. That brings me to one thing I’ve never really been decided on when discussing this poem, who exactly owns the woods? The speaker talks like he might know the owner, and that he lives in the village, but after that the owner isn’t mentioned for the rest of the poem. I’m still not sure if that was just some small detail or if the owner of the forest has some deeper meaning, but I’m sure that someday when I look back at this poem I’ll settle on an answer that I like. Robert Frost is one of the more famous poets in the history of the language, and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is just one of his many pieces that I know and love.


One thought on “Illumination of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

  1. I’m glad to hear that this assignment gave you yet another opportunity to engage with this poem, which has an obvious importance to you. Given your changing understanding of “sleep,” I would be interested to see this somehow represented in your image. Please post it as soon as you can!

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