Text of the Poem

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.


  1. The final two lines of the poem are an example of epizeuxis, or the repetition of words in succession. Frost applies epizeuxis to not only emphasize the length of the speaker’s remaining journey, but to convey a sense of the speaker’s regret that he cannot remain in this peaceful place.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. The serene, quiet tone that builds through the poem is disrupted by the return of focus to the speaker himself the final stanza. Frost’s description of the woods as “lovely, dark and deep,” as well as the many miles left to travel, suggests that the speaker’s journey may represent life itself—while the woods, in their darkness and silence, represent death.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. The adjective “downy” means to be fluffy and soft, much like the feathers that are often used to fill blankets and pillows. Frost’s description of snowflakes as soft and comforting, rather than cold, further develops the poem’s tranquil tone.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. Lines nine and eleven use enjambment, in which a thought or phrase that begins in one line flows into subsequent lines. In conjunction with sibilance, the momentum of enjambment intensifies readers’ anticipation for what might happen to disrupt the quiet evening—or, simply, whether the horse’s question will be answered.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. The entirety of the third stanza features sibilance, or the repetition of words containing the letter “s” so that the lines make a hissing sound when read aloud. Through use of the softly sibilant words “gives,” “his,” “harness,” “bells,” “ask,” “is,” “some,” “mistake,” “sound’s,” “sweep,” and “easy,” Frost augments the poem’s tranquil tone in a way that subtly builds anticipation. The stanza ends on the phrase “downy flake,” which doesn’t include any sibilance, preparing readers for a shift in focus to occur in the poem’s final stanza.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. Frost uses anthropomorphism, or the attribution of human thoughts and behaviors to animals or otherwise nonhuman things, in his description of the speaker’s horse. The speaker imagines his horse thinking as a human would about the unusual place in which they’ve stopped. Similarly, in the next stanza, the horse asks “if there is some mistake” by shaking his harness bells. Here, anthropomorphism establishes a symbolic bridge between humans and nature—in this case, a man and his horse—by suggesting that there are experiences or qualities shared by both.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. The adjective “queer” means strange, or differing from what is conventional or expected. The speaker imagines that his horse finds it strange that they would stop in the middle of nowhere, suggesting that the speaker is engaging in unusual or unexpected behavior.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  8. Frost employs assonance, or the repetition of vowel sounds, in this line. Repeating the “ee” sound in the words “he,” “see,” “me,” and “here” lends musicality to the words when read aloud.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  9. This line features alliteration, or the repetition of consonant sounds. The repetition of the soft consonant sounds of “h” and “th” in “his,” “house,” “the,” and “though” reinforces rhythm while also seeming to mimic the softness of the snowy evening.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  10. The poem begins with an end-stopped line, or a line that concludes with punctuation. Frost establishes a slow, heavy rhythm by concluding the statement “Whose woods these are I think I know” with a period. Such heaviness generates a thoughtful tone, potentially suggesting that the speaker is confiding something secretive to the reader.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff