The last stanza of ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ has probably the most referred lines of Robert Frost. Written in 1922, its enduring popularity owes to the poem’s capacity to transcend beyond its literal subject into the realm of philosophical contemplation.
The multiple interpretations of the poem are possible due to the clean images given in the poem which can be easily established.
The poem was written by Frost instantly yet it bears the precision of a master. It begins with the ease of beauty and idleness yet the question which comes up gradually is whether it is ominous and threatening as well.
The wood is described as mysterious and attractive. The traveler is probably struck by the indifference of Nature towards the human activity. The horse on which he is traveling is a domestic animal so even as an animal it is not used to the wilderness which the poet is witnessing.
Robert Frost can turn the whole poem symbolic. This poem ends with the reference to sleeping but is it the regular night sleep or the final sleep of death?
Many critics have argued that the way the traveler leaves the scene which attracted him so much reminds us of the small separation and abandonment which we do when it comes to primary responsibilities of life.
It is perhaps the act of promising which is most important here. Frost shows in most of his poems i.e. Birches that one can not get away from this world in entirety.
One will have to come back into the daily chores of life but one can always take rest in between by suspending oneself in some form of beauty or escape and come back again into the rigidity of promises.
The traveler is hardbound to the fact that he will re-engage with the human realm anyway and he respects his promises the most.
The poem is a contemplation of the contact which happens between nature and the world of human beings. It shows us how one always chooses the comfort and security of home over the mysterious allure of Nature.
One is lonely but still obliged to so many things. The traveler here enters into a reverie. His horse brings him back into the sense of domestic life. The public perception of the poem has changed over time and it tells us how open-ended it actually is.
The suggestion of death or a longing for death hovers above the poem. Our modern approach traces hope in this poem. We come to think of how many things we have to achieve and perform before we earn our sleep of death.