If you arrived here harried and harangued, or feeling hollow. . . .
YOU ARE INVITED TO SLOW DOWN AND STOP. . .
. . . to contemplate Frost’s Stopping by a Woods on a Snowy Evening. This rendition features a Lego character with a German-speaking narrator:
And in full text:
A man and his horse are proceeding through a woods on a snowy evening. The narrator, maybe Frost himself, probably has dismounted his horse, all the better to pause and observe the beauty of the falling snow flakes and the cold, calm of winter.
Frost, who lived to be 88, wrote this poem in 1922 when he was 48 years old. While he may have been contemplating death, as some critics suggest, perhaps he was simply observing one cycle of the seasons, the haunting beauty of winter. For him in the northern hemisphere, this season was a time of monochromatic beauty. Paused momentarily, he proceeds on his way, because he assures himself, “I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”
His parting words suggest both commitment, “I have promises to keep.” and purpose: “I have miles to go before I sleep.”
LOOK. . .
Botanists and foresters report that during winter, boughs of some evergreen trees, like fir, retract during a snowstorm. This miracle of nature enables the branches to bear the weight of the snow without breaking.
The Fir Tree in All Seasons
Hosea 14:8 TLB ‘I am like an evergreen tree, yielding my fruit to you throughout the year.”
Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
LISTEN. . .
Frost’s poem suggests two sounds: the bells on the horse’s harness and the wisp of wind through the trees.
The Turtle Creek Chorale does not record these sounds but does set Frost’s soothing words to harmonious music!
Ah, it’s good to slow down and stop . . .
. . . I feel better too, now. . .
How do you soothe yourself in winter? Or, in any stressful season?
What memories of winter and snow does Frost’s poem evoke?
Some other soothing suggestions for you on my blog, Do You Know How to Hygge?
And also here.
Oh, by the way, Happy Groundhog Day! A date that could be written as 2.2.22
Good morning, Marian! It’s that time of year to see Frost’s poem everywhere. 😊 The Lego figure is kind of odd.
A walk or getting lost in a novel help me relax. Perhaps with a cup of tea or coffee and a soft, comfy blanket! Right now I have a sleeping cat on my lap, so I pretty much have to stay put. Watching a cat sleep is relaxing in itself. 😀
Cat on lap, cozy–creativity cooking in the kitchen–that’s you early in the morning. I wonder if you ever sleep in.
I chose the video because it was odd and quirky, a different take on an oft-quoted poem.
And I see no one has pre-empted you as first responder here. Thanks, Merril! 😀
No, I never sleep in unless I’m sick. I always wake up early. 😀
I’m guessing you’re not a night owl either.
No, remember how I struggled to stay awake in Chincoteague ? 🤣
It has taken over fifty years for me to be able to appreciate the calm beauty of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” It has always brought back bad memories of fifth grade, when we were forced to memorize it and recite it in front of the class. (The teacher claimed to have a shotgun behind the piano to discourage recalcitrance.) The moral of this story is that teachers have done more to make children hate (and fear!) poetry than probably anyone else. Just let children experience the woods on a snowy evening through the Frost’s images and the sound of the words. Once they’ve had that experience, they will return to the poem again and again and seek out more.
These days, parents could lodge a complaint against the teacher for such threats. They’d call in the big guns, for sure: negative conditioning at its worst. I’m glad you come to appreciate Frost’s words in later life. It’s beautiful, calm, and reflective unlike the harridan in your classroom. Your comment surprises and saddens me, but thanks for sharing it, Liz. Hugs! ((( )))
I’m surprised that her behavior was accepted by parents and the school as a matter of course, even in 1966.
I never knew this about firs. Interesting how nature takes care of itself, frequently. I often marvel at tiny blossoms blowing in a fierce wind–even dried up blossoms and you’d think they’d fall off. Recently the verse about God caring for even a sparrow’s fall (Matt. 10:29) “not even a sparrow falls to the ground without your Father knowing it” spoke to me. Frost’s poem is usually a favorite for students–easy to memorize. Boo to that teacher who threatened a shotgun. Goodness!
Blessings on your not-snowy day.
A few days ago, stiff winds blew hard on hibiscus flowers and the poinsettias established in the ground years ago. I wondered then about the same thing: How can those blooms be SO wind resistant. It’s amazing: Great God of Wonders is the phrase that comes to mind now. No human being could design paste or glue with such stick-to-it-iveness. I’m glad you learned something new about nature here. It was new to me too.
Thanks always for commenting, Melodie! 😀
This is my favorite Frost poem and having spent some 20 years living in Vermont I feel every word in my heart.
Like our friend Janet, you have inhabited the land of Frost’s inspiration. I imagine that you got some effects from Izzy. I hope you stay warm and well, the main thing, Joan! 😀
I love the poetry by Robert Frost. This particular poem reminds me of a person resting until it is time to move on to the next stage of his or her purpose. I have never associated it with death but I have seem life with I think of it. I don’t know what Robert Frost was thinking when he wrote it, but I can imagine that writing a poem with such strength of words about the dark months of winter can only be written when one thinks of life.
Thank you for the videos depicting this poem.
Wishing you all the best.
Thanks for your view from a German winter this year, but also recalling Georgia winters, which were perhaps milder. Now that I think of it, you (in a military family) have experienced this season all over the world. I’m glad you enjoyed the videos, Pat. I always appreciate your sharing here! 😀
Marian — Reading this post was a lovely respite this morning. Thank you.
When I find myself in a place of overwhelm, I get out my yoga mat, get into Child’s Pose, and stay that way for as long as it takes.
Overwhelm paralyzes the mind and body. I’m not surprised you know how to breathe free of negativity with yoga. Pilates does the same for me, Laurie! 😀
I love the Lego video. So cute. I have always loved this poem and used to envision my dad coming home on his horse in the snow. We didn’t have any woods, but I could see him getting off his horse and contemplating life for a few minutes before coming home. The last lines are so poignant.
How special to recall your dad pausing on his horse in the prairie near Medicine Hat and gathering his wits before he walked in the door. Making good transitions from work to home is an art. I’m glad your dad showed you how. Thanks, Darlene! 😀
Hi Marian, I love this lego Robert Frost recording. Thank you for sharing it. I hate winter and ours are not as cold as yours or nearly as long. Our houses are not built for cold weather though, and we freeze to death for three months.
I didn’t picture you freezing in South Africa. That just goes to show I have some things wrong preconceptions. I wonder if you live at a higher elevation, Robbie. 😀
One tends to get weary of all that snow (we’ve had a huge dump here yesterday) but you again reminded us of the beauty and the stillness and the tranquility. It triggered a memory for me: My mother died in January, 2008. She had been hospitalized and her grandson picked her up and brought her home. There was hoar frost everywhere that night and my mother just looked around and said, “It’s so beautiful. This is what heaven must look like.” The next day she passed away suddenly of an abdominal aneurism. She was in her 87th year. She always loved winter.
Thanks for sharing such a sweet memory about your mother, Elfrieda. Her grandson must have responded to a nudge of the spirit to bring her home. Being at home and surrounded by loved ones–what a precious way to pass from one life to the next. 😀
Soothing from start to finish.
Jean, that was my intent. Quiet like winter, soothing the spirit. Thank you! 😀
This is lovely, Marion. It is snowing here in New Mexico. I love to watch the snowfall through our large dining room window, which overlooks our back yard. We have a tall white mountain pine behind our house, and a view of a mesa mountain. I can’t see the mountain right now, it is hidden behind the swirling snow. But our pine tree is prominent in the view, it’s branches frosted like a Christmas tree. I wonder if the branches are contracting? Amazing, I did not know about that. I love to lean against the wide trunk and look up through the branches at the pine cones. God’s creation is so beautiful!
Right now, I am relaxing on the sofa with our three rescue dogs. The youngest fur baby, an Australian Koolie type, is telling me with her doggy body language that she wants me to take her out into the back yard. She will not go outside on her own. Our small Poodle is the same way. I found all three of our dogs abandoned on the streets, so I suspect that separation anxiety is the culprit for the Poodle and the little Koolie. Our big Yellow Lab/Mystery Mix dog, however, is happy to go out into our fenced yard unaccompanied. But for the other two, I will soon have to put on my coat and gloves and hat and go stand in the snow for the third time today. Like David Frost, standing in the snow storm with his horse.
Two days ago, our outdoor thermometer registered 71 degrees. Right now, it is 16 degrees outside our warm house. Living where the high desert meets the high plains, our weather is never boring. We get tornadoes, the occasional baseball sized hail, massive dust storms, summer heat well into the 100s, and winter nights that occasionally dip below zero. I love it… except for the dust storms and tornadoes. However, I did get a wonderful dermabrasion one time when I was caught outside in a sudden dust storm!
Miles to go before I sleep… yes, that’s true of me, too. After taking the dogs out and back in again, I will climb up on my stationary bike and read while I pedal away for at least 6 miles, my daily average. It’s what I must do to keep up with the dogs. 😀
Linda Lee, you’ve taken me through all kinds of weather and let me fall in love with your amazing doggie population. Incredibly, you like extremes in weather. I’d have a hard time tolerating baseball-sized hail and 50+ degree temperature swings. And what a sense of humor: dust storm resulting in a “wonderful Dermabrasion” – wow!
Thanks for your exuberant reply here. I admire your tenacity and ability to sustain six miles on your stationary bike. Reading will do that to you. Blessings, my friend! 😀
Thank you so much, and blessings to you, dear Marian. By the way, I turned my long comment into a post for my blog, with a link back here, since your lovely post inspired me. Oh, and I made a mistake in my comment — our high temperature two days ago was 74, not 71. It’s supposed to be in the single digits tonight, and -2 tomorrow night. Thank God our furnace is working!
I’m thrilled to hear this. When I read your comment, I thought, “This is SO lyrical!” Now to go check out your blog. Our guy who checks our HVAC system every spring and fall cautioned us not to expect too much from a system that’s as old as ours. So, “thank God our furnace is still working” too! And thanks for the follow-up here, Linda Lee, so appreciated!
Loved the lego version, Marian, and sent it to a ten-year-old boy who will love it too. We have just a little snow here and are watching it pile up on our friends in Goshen and Kalamazoo. Had a lovely walk today in balmy 45 degrees. Still have lingering warmth from our time in Florida!
Yes, Shirley, I believe the Lego figures help span the bridge between childhood fantasy and adult reality. There’s a little mystery there also which may appeal to your grandson. I too pay attention to winter weather in other states too, the effects of Izzy blowing through.
Today I walked in the preserve in bright sunshine. My cousin from MIssouri will enjoy the same path along the lake, now with plumping azalea buds on bushes we walked alongside in December. 😀
“And miles to go before I sleep,” is a fantastic philosophy—one I’m trying to live each day. Thank you Robert Frost for the inspiration.
I know from your blog, you live purposefully, seen so clearly in Frost’s poem. Forward ho, our daily motto. Thanks, Pete!
Thank you for the snippet on how the fir trees react to snow by retracting their boughs during a snow storm..interesting how nature protects itself. I don’t like the cold but the temps do drop this time of year so I snuggle in a light shawl while I read…:)
I think most people think this season in Thailand is warm. Maybe you’re having a cool spell if you need just a light shawl when you read … a little like Florida in the winter except when we have a cold dip like last weekend below freezing.
Yes, I didn’t know some evergreens have boughs that retract–a miracle of nature. I wonder what other miracles we don’t know about. Thanks, Carol–always good to hear your thoughts. 😀
Yes this season can be a little cool, Marian and then we get the warmth wall to wall but then the tropical showers which cool it down somewhat 🙂
I’m late to the party. Yes I arrived feeling harried after shoveling snow three times yesterday (though I enjoyed working with neighbors to get our spaces shoveled). I meant to comment on this the other day, but so much was happening with the constant snowfall we received. So this is the perfect time for reading your post. What an excellent post, Marian. I love the sights and sounds you brought up. I often think of Frost’s poem on a winter’s night when I’m weary and I know I have “miles to go” in terms of work.
Such beautiful music! I feel soothed. (L. Marie, my reply to you follows Arlene’s.)
Hi Marian, It is not hard for me to imagine winter. We have had a full-bore version of it this year!. I wallow in it. Walk, ski, skate. Then the retreat indoors is all the sweeter.
Yes, Arlene, you have harsh Canadian winters, but then the lovely flowers spring forth as if to make up for it. I used to ski and skate, but Florida winters (and age) have ruled that out. After a cold snap, I do enjoy retreat indoors too. 😀
Oh, L. Marie, that was my intent, to help you feel soothed. I know you work hard, probably too hard sometimes. We writers & authors sometimes drive ourselves too much and need time and space to recharge. I suppose my post grew from my own need + a wish to counteract all the worrisome chatter in the news these days. Blessings, my friend! ((( )))
I love the lego version of Robert Frost’s beautiful poem, and the German accent only enhanced it. The poem evokes a sense of mystery. While living in Munich, I would go into the woods alone after a heavy snow, just to absorb the silence and wonder. The poem brings back those experiences. Thank you for sharing both versions, Marian!
I love the idea that the video took you back to Germany, absorbing once again the silence and wonder in this culture. When I write a blog post, I have no idea what ripples it will send back. Thanks so much for sharing yours, Patty. 😀
Thank you for this beautiful reminder connecting today with 1959. I first heard this poem in high school. My brother had the honor of meeting Robert Frost during his freshman year in college and brought home the excitement and poetry. This overlapped with my father’s death in November of that year, so it’s a memorable time for me. It’s snowing here today, possibly a foot of snow before it’s over. I’m tired of winter by now, but I’ll take the dogs out and watch their joy and enthusiasm and feel my own. I load firewood into the woodstove, make a cup of green tea, and sit on the couch to watch the falling snow. Or sometimes I read but usually in the evening, not midday. Deep breathing needed today as a few friends are struggling and I can send inner support if I’m prayerful and calm.
You have a writing style that soothes. I have some friends who are struggling too which makes me dig deep, thinking how I can be of help, if only with a kind word. . . certainly inner support as you mention.
Thanks for sharing your brother Jim’s connection to Robert Frost and the bittersweet memories. This is the time for quiet contemplation, as I picture you stoking the wood stone as snowflakes fall. In my world, the sun is hugging the horizon; birds flit around finishing their errands for the day.
Spring will return to your part of the world, if belatedly, and with it crocuses and later, lupines, lots of colorful decoration. Hugs to you, Elaine! ((( )))
Dear Marian, thank you for this lovely reminder to slow down in the midst of winter’s beauty and bitterness. Frost’s poem came to mind whenever we rode through our woods at the farm—during all seasons. But there’s something about winter that forces one to slow down and live in the present moment. A timely reminder to find a safe haven in the midst of the surrounding chaos.
I’m beyond blessed to see you here, Kathy. And your words are perfect: beauty to tame the bitterness & finding a safe haven “in the midst of surround chaos.” You nailed it. Hugs! ((( )))
I did not know that might have been Frost’s state of mind while he was writing this poem, thank you for sharing that!
Even with that, for me, the poem is still about optimism and hope: faced of the allure of “The Dark Side”, without anyone watching, the person in the woods makes the right decision. And unlike the German-speaking narrator, I don’t feel the last two lines should be read with a sigh, but more like the Lego piece, with a happy smile: it reads to me like a hopeful promise of more “miles” or opportunities remaining in the future.
Thanks for injecting your “happy smile” reading of this familiar Frost poem. I liked the Lego figure because it’s unusual and also allows for more possible readings, optimism included. If you view life through rose-tinted lenses, the future looks hopeful, full of promise, like an “Endless Weekend”! :=D
“My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near”
My mother was a wealth of lines of poetry [and French phrases] that she said without any context. This was one she used to say, for no particular reason other than it snowed. I haven’t thought of this poem in years. Thanks for the nice memory.
Oh to be endowed with a mother who knows when to add a dash of poetry and rhyme. Thanks for sharing this sweet snippet, Ally! 😀