Analysis of Frost’s “Desert Places” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

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Robert Frost takes our imaginations to a journey through wintertime withhis two poems “Desert Places” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. Frostcomes from a New England background and these two poems reflect the beautifulscenery that is present in that part of the country. Even though these poemsboth have winter settings they contain very different tones. One has a feelingof depressing loneliness and the other a feeling of welcome solitude. They showhow the same setting can have totally different impacts on a person depending ontheir mindset at the time. These poems are both made up of simple stanzas anddiction but they are not simple poems.

In the poem “Desert Places” the speaker is a man who is travelingthrough the countryside on a beautiful winter eventing. He is completelysurrounded with feelings of loneliness. The speaker views a snow covered fieldas a deserted place. “A blanker whiteness of benighted snow/ With no expression,nothing to express”. Whiteness and blankness are two key ideas in this poem.

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The white sybolizes open and empty spaces. The snow is a white blanket thatcovers up everything living. The blankness sybolizes the emptyness that thespeaker feels. To him there is nothing else around except for the unfeeling snowand his lonely thoughts.

The speaker in this poem is jealous of the woods. “The woods around ithave it – it is theirs.” The woods symbolizes people and society. They havesomething that belongs to them, something to feel a part of. The woods has itsplace in nature and it is also a part of a bigger picture. The speaker is soalone inside that he feels that he is not a part of anything. Nature has a wayof bringing all of her parts together to act as one. Even the animals are apart of this wintery scene. “All animals are smothered in their lairs,/ I amtoo absent-spirited to count”. The snow throws its blanket of whiteness overeverything and to him it is a feeling of numbness.

“The loneliness includes me unawares”. The speaker has lost hisenthusiasm for life. He can not express his feelings easily because of thisfeeling of numbness. The speaker is also in denial about feeling alone. He isat a stage where he just does not care about too much and he is feeling a bitparanoid. “They cannot scare me with their empty space.” He is saying who careshow I feel, I do not need anyone else. “I have in me so much nearer home/ Toscare myself with my own desert places”.

The speaker was starting to realizethat he had shut himself off to the world. He recognized that this winter placewas like his life. He had let depression and loneliness creep into his life andtotally take over like the snow had crept up on the plain and silently coveredit. If he continues to let these feelings run his life, eventually everythingwould be snuffed out much like the snow does to nature.

“Stopping by Woods on a Snowny Evening” is a much happier and moreupbeat poem than “Desert Places”. This poem is about stopping to enjoy life oras the cliche goes, stopping to smell the roses. “But I have promises to keep,/and miles to go before I sleep”. The speaker in this poem was a very busy manwho always had obligations to fufill and places to go. A feeling of regret ispresent. The man would like to stay and enjoy this private nature scene longerbut he knows that he has other things to do. Again, Frost gives us a beautifulnature scene but this time we enjoy welcome solitude. “The woods are lovely,dark and deep”. This poem expresses the joy of nature.

The speaker seems concerned about what the rest of society would thinkabout him just stopping in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason. Hishorse represents society. “My little horse must think it queer/ To stop withouta farmhouse near”. He admits that just stopping does seem odd. He is alsosomewhat concerned about the man who owns the woods. The man almost feelsguilty for looking so lovingly at this other man’s woods. “He will not see mestopping here/ To watch his woods fill up with snow”. I think that the speakerslife may be a little better off since he stopped to take a deep breath and enjoyall that really matters, the simple things.

“Stopping by Woods an a Snowy Evening” is the opposite of “DesertPlaces”. The settings were exactly the same; calm, dark wintery evenings, butthey express totally different feelings. “Desert Places” is a very depressingpoem with a dark tone. The other is very happy and it makes you wish thatwinter was already here.

These two poems are very different but they are also the same in someways. They show two extremes of the same emotion. Being alone can be positiveor negative it just depends on the state of the mind. Loneliness can be verydepressing or it can be a time to collect your thoughts without the pressures ofthe outside world crashing down. Winter is the perfect season to reflect uponwhen expressing solitude. Winter can make everything seem dead. It can be avery depressing time of year. Snow covers everything living and the cold seemsto chill to the very soul at times. Winter can also be very uplifting. It canwipe the slate clean with its pureness and it can be a time of starting over.

Snow’s whiteness can, in a way, blind you with its beauty and make you forgetabout your troubles. Winter for me is a time of silent reflection. I could sitfor hours and gaze at the blowing snow.

Robert Frost creates two winter scenes with different outcomes. Thefirst, “Desert Places” is a sad poem about loneliness and lost enthusiasm. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is a rather uplifting poem about enjoyingsimple things in life. Frost seems to draw upon his experiences from living inrural New England and converts those experiences into beautiful poetry.

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Analysis of Frost’s “Desert Places” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. (2019, Feb 22). Retrieved from

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