Monday, March 07, 2005

An old favorite

The Writer's Almanac today notes the anniversary of Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." It's a great story; Frost apparently wanted to publish it with forty pages (!) of footnotes. Maybe he was having a little T.S. Eliot "The Wasteland" envy.

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's 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's 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.

I remember the last few lines of this poem being a key-phrase to activate Soviet sleeper agents in some old Charles Bronson movie. I remember thinking, "Why in the hell would the Soviets choose Robert Frost?"

The last few lines in particular I have always to found to be particularly hypnotic. I find myself repeating them when I am out walking in the winter. At any rate, Frost apparently was most fond of the first two lines, which he said contained everything he ever knew about writing.


Blogger Me said...

Frost is one of my two favorite poets (the other being Shel Silverstein). My personal favorite is Nothing God Can Stay. This is a close second.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I'm way too much of a waffling liberal to narrow my favorite poets down to two, but if it's any indication, I did name my daughter after the guy.

I really like "Wild Grapes." The speaker shares what I think is a profound observation, and I find that it never fails to move me. "Bereft" is another favorite.

It took me a long time, but I am really coming to appreciate the wry humor of some of the longer narrative poetry that I used to find a little too dry.

I know, I'm a very weird person.

8:21 PM  

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