// Tat-Twam-Asi //
Thou Art That
A Spot of Philosophy and a Splash of Everything

Frost's imagery

Category: , , By FreaKo
From the most widely admired and reputed American poets of the 20th century, Robert Frost, two poems that I happened to read a few minutes ago:

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

There is a multitude of meanings hidden below the surface of these four stanzas of Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’. Some believe that Frost was referring to his own life. ‘The Road Not Taken’ is a mirror for almost each one of us as we look back at our own lives and think of the opportunities that we may have missed. On a more philosophical note, Frost might be conveying that fate is in one’s own hands and one’s present and future is nothing but the results of our actions in our past.

And here is one of the more popular of Forst’s contribution to this world:

Stopping by the 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.

This one reminds me of my school days when we had to memorize almost all of the poems in our language class text books and this so happened to be one of my favorites (In fact I adorned my final year college year book, with excerpts from this poem on the first page).

Like most of Frost’s poems, ‘Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening’, can be read on many Levels and the same time you can ignore this fact and still enjoy the surface meaning. This is one the eerie poem’s from Frost and at the same time it is beautifully evocative at the surface. Beyond the imagery that Frost has sketched, there is a strong Sleep and Death metaphor. Another thing that you cannot miss is the rhyming scheme used (aaba).

Dissecting this poem has never been an easy task for me, primarily, because I could not (or rather I did not want to) get together the surface level beauty of this poem with darker connotations. Frost, tells us about this person, who rides in to the deep jungle to give up his life.

The horse notices that something is wrong as there is no one else there other than the two of them, while the speaker is struggling with his choice, stuck between a rock and a hard stone (My little horse must think it queer / To stop without a farmhouse near, / Between the woods and frozen lake…). The metaphor doesn’t stop here. All this happens on the darkest day of the year, the winter solstice, the darkest day in his life (his sadness, depression and isolation). In the third stanza, the horse becomes the voice in his head and shakes him back to reality. He hears the sound of the wind and also sees that the winds can blow away all his worries as the downy snow flakes would cover it all.

In the end the speaker realizes that though death (the deep dark snow covered woods) is the answer to his problems, it is not the answer the wants as he has got a lot many more promises to keep before he went to sleep.

Go ahead and indulge in more Frost. :)

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