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.
Robert Frost (1874-1963), the best known American poet of the 20th century, is
regarded as the poet of New England, the rural north-east of the United States where he lived almost
permanently from the age of 11 until his death.
Before starting his career as a creative writer he worked at a mill in Massachusetts and later tried to
lead what he would call an alternative way of life. But his efforts to live self-sufficiently on a
farm in New Hampshire with his wife and several children failed. The family sold the farm in 1912 and
moved to England (1912-15) where Robert Frost quickly found a publisher for his first collection of poems
(A Boy's Will, 1913). The publication of 'North of Boston' a year later was the second step on his way to
a success which was to last for the rest of his life. Frost became the most widely-read American
poet and is still among the few modern writers whose lines are remembered by heart by thousands
of people. Frost was rewarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1923, 1930, 1936 and 1942. On January 20, 1961,
he was invited to recite one of his poems at J.F. Kennedy's inauguration ('The Gift Outright: The land was ours
before we were the land's...').
Frost's work is sometimes seen as merely a collection of beautiful country poems. But behind the light rural
scenes that his writings evoke there is also the longing for the dark (Stopping by Woods..) and the hint at existential fears:
These, obviously, are not country poems in the usual sense - certainly not pastoral poems. What they
have to say about country things - snow, scything, meadow flowers - turns out to be something very different:
something about man, about the experience of being human, being alive, on this little
sun-struck, wind-worn planet that will also end.