16 December – Words from Frost

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.


Where are you going? What promises must you keep?  How many miles?

How does this writing prompt advent calendar work?
This entry was posted in Travel, Writing, Writing Prompt Advent Calendar 2014 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to 16 December – Words from Frost

  1. Melissa says:

    I’ve known this poem a long time, maybe first learning it in 10th grade with a wonderful English teacher, Mrs. Terry, who loved Robert Frost. Maybe hearing it before from my mom, who also loves Robert Frost. And it was only in reading it and thinking about it yesterday that I noticed two things I’ve never noticed before: First, the lovely lacing rhyme scheme that ties together the stanzas (AABA BBCB CCDC DDDD). I think this might be what makes it so musical without my realising what was creating the effect. And second, it’s the pause that carries the poem’s meaning for me. Not the starting point or the destination, not the promises to keep, or miles to go before I sleep, but the pause to watch the woods fill up with snow. As December accelerates, it’s the stopping by the woods, the moments of neither here nor there, that anchor the month for me.


  2. …and at that moment , a small light flickered on, then off, as it travelled between the trees. Someone was out in this dark night with a lantern. The harness jingled again as the horse’s impatience grew, the light became larger and more steady, and I got ready to urge the horse into action, not knowing who or what was approaching…


  3. suki60 says:

    A poem for a poem. This is one I’ve known a long time. It was written in 1919 so it’s unfeminism has offended some. Could do without the bridegroom: best to forget the politics! I see the Atlantic barnacle-beaches, feel the cool, wet, slappy air, see the distinctive shimmer of an Irish sky. And I love its rhythm.

    William Butler Yeats’ “A Prayer for My Daughte”

    Once more the storm is howling, and half hid
    Under this cradle-hood and coverlid
    My child sleeps on. There is no obstacle
    But Gregory’s wood and one bare hill
    Whereby the haystack- and roof-levelling wind,
    Bred on the Atlantic, can be stayed;
    And for an hour I have walked and prayed
    Because of the great gloom that is in my mind.

    I have walked and prayed for this young child an hour
    And heard the sea-wind scream upon the tower,
    And under the arches of the bridge, and scream
    In the elms above the flooded stream;
    Imagining in excited reverie
    That the future years had come,
    Dancing to a frenzied drum,
    Out of the murderous innocence of the sea.

    May she be granted beauty and yet not
    Beauty to make a stranger’s eye distraught,
    Or hers before a looking-glass, for such,
    Being made beautiful overmuch,
    Consider beauty a sufficient end,
    Lose natural kindness and maybe
    The heart-revealing intimacy
    That chooses right, and never find a friend.

    Helen being chosen found life flat and dull
    And later had much trouble from a fool,
    While that great Queen, that rose out of the spray,
    Being fatherless could have her way
    Yet chose a bandy-legg’d smith for man.
    It’s certain that fine women eat
    A crazy salad with their meat
    Whereby the Horn of Plenty is undone.

    In courtesy I’d have her chiefly learned;
    Hearts are not had as a gift but hearts are earned
    By those that are not entirely beautiful;
    Yet many, that have played the fool
    For beauty’s very self, has charm made wise,
    And many a poor man that has roved,
    Loved and thought himself beloved,
    From a glad kindness cannot take his eyes.

    May she become a flourishing hidden tree
    That all her thoughts may like the linnet be,
    And have no business but dispensing round
    Their magnanimities of sound,
    Nor but in merriment begin a chase,
    Nor but in merriment a quarrel.
    O may she live like some green laurel
    Rooted in one dear perpetual place.

    My mind, because the minds that I have loved,
    The sort of beauty that I have approved,
    Prosper but little, has dried up of late,
    Yet knows that to be choked with hate
    May well be of all evil chances chief.
    If there’s no hatred in a mind
    Assault and battery of the wind
    Can never tear the linnet from the leaf.

    An intellectual hatred is the worst,
    So let her think opinions are accursed.
    Have I not seen the loveliest woman born
    Out of the mouth of Plenty’s horn,
    Because of her opinionated mind
    Barter that horn and every good
    By quiet natures understood
    For an old bellows full of angry wind?

    Considering that, all hatred driven hence,
    The soul recovers radical innocence
    And learns at last that it is self-delighting,
    Self-appeasing, self-affrighting,
    And that its own sweet will is Heaven’s will;
    She can, though every face should scowl
    And every windy quarter howl
    Or every bellows burst, be happy still.

    And may her bridegroom bring her to a house
    Where all’s accustomed, ceremonious;
    For arrogance and hatred are the wares
    Peddled in the thoroughfares.
    How but in custom and in ceremony
    Are innocence and beauty born?
    Ceremony’s a name for the rich horn,
    And custom for the spreading laurel tree.


  4. Beautiful poem, I’m not sure how it is anti feminist, what is there more than harmonious relationships, content with their lot?


  5. suki60 says:

    I’m glad you see it that way, too, Nicole – I was a bit startled to find the criticism when I googled for the text.


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