But I have promises to keep, Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

This line marks a major change in the narrator. He does not allow himself to fall to temptation. The narrator is pulled back from the brink by his responsibilities and societal obligations, though the sublime beauty of nature and of death were enough to make him halt his journey for a while.

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The woods are lovely, dark and deep, Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

At this point in the poem the woods have become an extended metaphor for death. Our world-weary narrator is tired; the rest that death could provide him would be “lovely, dark, and deep.” If the narrator is lulled into the wood he has effectively forsaken his sense of prudence and self-preservation.

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The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

The narrator, on the other hand, hears the horse but doesn’t end his contemplation just yet. The easy wind, the “downy flake” (downy means feathery), is evocative of relaxation and rest. The sublime woods sing a siren song to the narrator, drawing him in. The impulse could lead to enjoyable ends, or it could be a deadly decision.

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He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

The beast, driven by a sense of duty, or perhaps by fear, seeks to rouse his master from contemplation.

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My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

“Between the woods and frozen lake” may allude to Dante’s Inferno: specifically the “selva oscura” (dark wood) in which Dante’s pilgrim finds himself in middle age. Characteristic of Dante’s way of working, this “dark wood” is a product of the poet’s imagination.

See also the forest at the entrance to the classical underworld as described by Virgil in Aeneid: 6.179. Augustine’s association of sin with a “region of unlikeness” (Confessions: 7.10) and the dangerous forests from which the wandering knights of medieval romances must extricate themselves may also come into play here.

These allusions place the speaker in the disconcerting, liminal space between the dark forest, which begins the descent into the infernal regions, and the frozen lake, which serves as Inferno’s Telos. (XXXII-IV)

Horses are often said to have a sixth sense that pick up their riders' anxieties. The horse retains its sensibilities and work ethic in the face of the haunting beauty of the wood, yet can’t comprehend why the narrator has forced it to stop because it can’t comprehend the sublime.

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He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Winter solitude has the quality of the sublime.

Frost paints us a picture that is both beautiful and startling. According to Arthur Schopenhauer, a philosopher of aesthetics (the study of beauty), the sublime is “pleasure from perceiving objects that threaten to hurt or destroy the observer.” Think: lightning, fire, heights.

These snowy woods are beautiful, yes, but they are also creepy on a intrinsic, primal level.

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Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

The opening lines set the psychological tone of the poem. Whose woods are these? The speaker THINKS he knows, but he is uncertain. Uncertainty is pervasive through this poem. The speaker seems at first to be referring to a local landowner on whose property the woods lie, but as the poem ultimately suggests, the woods “belong” also to darker, more impersonal forces of nature.

Some have even speculated that “Whose” might even refer to God. The impersonal forces of nature have no house in the village. God does, though. He’s got the biggest house: the church.

“The woods” and “the village” create a nature vs. society juxtaposition that highlights the speaker’s isolation. This dichotomy also establishes one of the poem’s major themes: choosing between the looming irrational (the wild woods) and sensibility and responsibility. Sounds like the summer after senior year of high school.

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A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
She Walks in Beauty by George Gordon, Lord Byron

Once again, the co-mingling of mind and heart, the essence of soul, and this girl’s got SOUL

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Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
She Walks in Beauty by George Gordon, Lord Byron

This woman is freakin' faultless! Her thoughts are pure and sweet, and so is her mind.

This is what a female brain looks like under the influence of a Lord Byron poem.

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And all that's best of dark and bright She Walks in Beauty by George Gordon, Lord Byron

A dichotomy of good and bad. In essence, this woman is a conglomeration of the best of “good” and “bad” characteristics.

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