Robert Frost


This week’s entry comes from playing a little word association with last week’s poem; “Frost at Midnight” to Robert Frost. I must admit, I never studied Frost much, and I know little about his work. He’s quite famous, of course; one of only a few Modern poets to achieve real fame in his lifetime. Poets used to be famous. These days they’re hard to come by. Most folks would be hard-pressed to name a major poet working today.

This post comes to you on another late snowy night, just a couple nights after the Winter Solstice, which recieves an oblique reference in tonight’s poem. While Coleridge’s poem is a tremendous exercise in complimentary imagery, stacking sights and sounds and ideas right on top of one another, Frost’s poem and his poetry in general tackle the problem of lyrical simplicity: how to pack volumes of information and sentiment into four little stanzas. But this is where Frost excelled. Many would argue that a good lyric is harder to write than a good epic. Even the rhyme scheme of tonight’s poem is deceptively simple, yet quite complex: aaba bbcb ccdc dddd. This is called a Rubaiyat. The lyric asks much of the reader, and yet asks nothing: one could read a simple Frost lyric and see nothing more than beautiful imagery and fine wordplay. But the same reader is greatly rewarded if they decide to delve deeper into the world implied in the poem. This is a beautiful poem, one made for the quiet winter night. Enjoy.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

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.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Stranger than Nonfiction

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