Robert Frost is one of America's best-known poets and may be the most misunderstood. Because his poems are often set in rural, early 20th Century New England settings, people think of him as a simple, and with a benevolent outlook on the world. In some of his writing, it is true, but much of his work is actually much darker, and much more complex. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," is that kind of a poem. In it, the speaker appears to consider the possibility that death may be more preferable than life. The speaker may be Robert Frost himself at point in his life. .
The structure of the poem is four 4-line stanzas of iambic tetrameter. In each stanza, the first, second, and fourth lines rhyme. The rhyme scheme is AABA, BBCD, CCEC, and so on. Only the final stanza breaks the pattern. .
The opening stanza sets the scene. A traveler looks out into a patch of woods owned by someone who lives far away, in a village. The speaker says, "He will not see me stopping here. To watch his woods fill up with snow." We find out that the traveler has stopped his trip for a moment, just to watch the snowfall. We also assume he is alone. We want to know: why is he stopping? Doesn't he have better things to do? Does he just like to look at snowfall? .
The next stanza helps answer these questions. The traveler thinks that his horse must "think it queer" to suddenly stop in the middle of no-where. The horse is wants only to get home. We also learn that this is the "darkest evening of the year." So it is probably December when the sun sets earliest, the day is the shortest, the nights are the longest, with the most hours of darkness. However, a "dark" time may have another meaning, because we refer to times of trouble as being "dark". If this is a "dark" night for the speaker, it may mean that he is facing some unknown problems. The third stanza begins with the traveler's observations about his horse's reaction to stopping by the woods.