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Line 1

In this opening stanza, the setting is clarified as a winter evening in a rural environment. The speaker desires to watch snow fall quietly in some woods. While these woods belong to someone, that person is not present and so will not protest if the speaker trespasses.

Lines 5-8

The speaker emphasizes that he has no practical reason to stop, that he is stopping for the beauty of the scene only. However, in line 8, an element of darkness appears, which can indicate that all is not well. Because the speaker also emphasizes the cold with “frozen lake,” readers begin to understand that the poem may not be a simple light-hearted celebration of nature.

Lines 9-12

Although this stanza begins with an auditory image, the shaking of the harness bells, the greater emphasis of the stanza is on silence. Although the speaker can hear the “easy wind,” such a sound is gentle, nearly as silent as the falling of the snow. The slight alliteration in line 11, “sound’s the sweep,” mimics the sound of of this wind.

Lines 13-14

In this stanza, the speaker emphasizes his attraction to the unknown and perhaps the dangerous. He is tempted to go farther into the woods which are “lovely” but are also “dark and deep.” He can’t, however, lose himself in these woods because he has obligations to fulfill. Here, his life in a social community conflicts somewhat with his desire for communion with nature.

Lines 15-16

The repetition of this line as the conclusion to the poem indicates that the idea contained in it is highly significant. Although the speaker may literally have “miles to go,” the line also functions as a metaphor. He has much life to live before he can “sleep” permanently in a “dark and deep” woods. These lines suggest that although death may at times be more attractive than life to the speaker, he is nevertheless determined to choose life. The tone of the lines, however, may also indicate that the speaker is resigned to life but not necessarily enthusiastic about it.



This poem presents nature as a standard of beauty that is so strong that it captures the speaker’s attention and makes him or her halt whatever they are doing. There are not many descriptive words used to convey what it is that the speaker finds so beautiful, only “lovely,” “dark” and “deep.” Of these, “lovely” simply restates the whole idea of the poem, which most readers would already have gotten a sense of from the speaker’s tone and actions. The darkness of the woods is an idea so important that it is mentioned twice in this poem, emphasizing a connection between beauty and mystery. The emphasis on darkness is strange, and more obvious because the poem takes place on a snowy evening, when the dominant impression would have been the whiteness blanketing everything. …

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