Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and Christina Rossetti’s poem “Up-Hill” share a common dominant theme which deals with humankind’s passage from the cradle to the grave.
Additionally both works are examples of poetry which are;
Rich in imagery,
Highly effective in the use of figurative language, metaphors, and personification
Contain symbolism and allusions.
In both poems imagery is a dynamic element. Robert Frost paints a clear image of someone traveling in the woods and the dark night, by use of the opening line “whose woods these are I think I know”. (Frost 1) Frost’s opening line establishes an image of both location and the feeling of doubt which the speaker recognizes. The doubt is found in the words “I think I know”. (Frost 1) Christina Rossetti presents the reader with a clear view of a road winding up a long hill and a weary traveler. Her opening line “does the road wind up-hill all the way?” not only indicates a toilsome journey but it demonstrates the travelers’ fatigue as it sounds much like a child asking the question “are we there yet”.
Clearly both of these opening lines establish the location and give an indication of the impending state of mind of the protagonist. While the Frost poem offers a clearer view of the physical geography of the location in the forest through the statement “between the woods and frozen lake” (Frost 9) Rossetti gives the reader a sense of the emotional weariness of one asking “is there for the night a resting place?”(Rossetti 5) By use of imagery we clearly see the both the place and the condition of the travelers. In both works the imagery brings the reader to a level where figurative language can be understood.
The rich imagery in these two works brings the reader to a point when the figurative language can be grasped. A good example of this can be seen in the Frost poem in the contrast between the “darkest evening of the year” (Frost 10) and the brilliant whiteness of falling snow as a metaphor of black and white as representations of life and death. In the Rossetti poem we hear the lonely traveler ask “shall I meet other wayfarers at night” (Rossetti 9). The traveler is asking if they will be alone in the dark which is a metaphor for hardship and or death.
The speakers in both poems are inquisitive traveler’s which in itself is metaphoric as both are on a quest and a journey. The Frost traveler has momentarily stopped to comprehend the metaphorical woods of death which is alluded to in both the first and last lines of the poem, “these woods I think I know” (Frost 1) and “miles to go before I sleep” (Frost 16) sleep also being a metaphor for death. While the Rossetti traveler would seemed to accept the metaphorical up-hill climb but is now enquiring as to the duration of the trip, the accommodations and the company which she or he is to keep. As seen in the previously noted first line as a “road wind(ing) up-hill” (Rossetti 1) and again with “shall I meet...