Analysis of Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Diction (i.e. choice of vocabulary) The diction of "Stopping by Woods
on a Snowy Evening" is extremely simple. None of the vocabulary is
difficult or unusual, and most of the most of the words are short and
plain, for example 'woods', 'house', 'snow', 'horse'. None of the
descriptions, either of the setting, or the horse, is detailed or
elaborate: the horse is simply, 'little'; the lake is 'frozen' (but we
learn nothing else about it), and the only time more than one
adjective is used to described anything is when we are told that the
woods are: 'lovely, dark and deep'.
One major effect of such plain and simple diction is to give the poem
a fairy tale quality. This is because, in fairy tales, the settings
could be 'anywhere' and 'nowhere' in particular. Fairy tales tend to
avoid describing their settings in great detail so that readers from
any country and culture can identify with them, and can recognize and
respond to the 'universe' significance of the situations in the tales.
Verb Tenses Another crucial aspect of the diction in "Stopping by
Woods on a Snowy Evening" is the fact that the entire poem is spoken
in the present tense. For example, line 1: 'Whose woods these are I
think I know'. This choice of tense has two important and powerful
effects on the impact and meaning of the poem:
· Continuous use of the present tense creates a strong sense of
vividness and immediacy. This is because it seems as if the speaker is
reporting events 'live' and as they happen. For example, 'My horse
gives his harness bells a shake'.
· The second important effect of the use of only the present tense is
that it makes it impossible for us to know the outcome of the poem.
For instance, we know that the speaker has 'promises to keep', but we
have no way of knowing whether or not he kept them, because the poem
has no 'past'!
Rhyme and Rhythm Complementing and reinforcing its simple, present
tense diction, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" also has an
extremely regular rhythm and a deliberately repetitive rhyme scheme:
· In stanza 1: Lines 1, 2 and 4 all rhyme ('know', 'though', 'snow'),
and only line 3 ('here') does not rhyme.
· But line 3 of stanza 1 becomes the rhyme sound for the first, second
and fourth lines of stanza 2: 'queer', 'near', 'year'.
· This format is repeated in stanza 3: the first, second and fourth
lines rhyme ('shake', 'mistake', 'flake') and the third line ('sweep')
does not rhyme but it becomes the rhyme sound for stanza 4 ('deep',
'keep', 'sleep', 'sleep').
· Unlike the previous three stanzas, the final stanza is odd because
every line has the same rhyme.
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...