"Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" is a poem written in 1922 by Robert Frost, and published in 1923 in his New Hampshire volume. Imagery, personification, and repetition are prominent in the work. In a letter to Louis Untermeyer, Frost called it "my best bid for remembrance".
Frost wrote the poem in June 1922 at his house in Shaftsbury, Vermont. He had been up the entire night writing the long poem "New Hampshire" and had finally finished when he realized morning had come. He went out to view the sunrise and suddenly got the idea for "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". He wrote the new poem "about the snowy evening and the little horse as if I'd had a hallucination" in just "a few minutes without strain".
The poem is written in iambic tetrameter in the Rubaiyat stanza created by Edward Fitzgerald. Each verse (save the last) follows an a-a-b-a rhyming scheme, with the following verse's a's rhyming with that verse's b, which is a chain rhyme (another example is the terza rima used in Dante's Inferno.) Overall, the rhyme scheme is AABA-BBCB-CCDC-DDDD.
The text of the poem describes the thoughts of a lone rider (the speaker), pausing at night in his travel to watch snow falling in the woods. It ends with him reminding himself that, despite the loveliness of the view, "I have promises to keep, / And miles to go before I sleep."
Use in eulogies
In the early morning of November 23, 1963, Sid Davis of Westinghouse Broadcasting reported the arrival of President John F. Kennedy's casket to the White House. As Frost was one of the President's favorite poets, Davis concluded his report with a passage from this poem but was overcome with emotion as he signed off.
At the funeral of former Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau, on October 3, 2000, his eldest son Justin rephrased the last stanza of this poem in his eulogy: "The woods are lovely, dark and deep. He has kept his promises and earned his sleep."
- Frost, Robert, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Representative poetry (online ed.), University of TorontoÂ . Text of the poem, along with the rhyming pattern.
- "Woods", Frost, Poets, UIUCÂ . Discussion and analysis of the poem.