Analysis of Frost\'s "Desert Places" and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"


Robert Frost takes our imaginations to a journey through wintertime with
his two poems "Desert Places" and "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". Frost
comes from a New England background and these two poems reflect the beautiful
scenery that is present in that part of the country. Even though these poems
both have winter settings they contain very different tones. One has a feeling
of depressing loneliness and the other a feeling of welcome solitude. They show
how the same setting can have totally different impacts on a person depending on
their mindset at the time. These poems are both made up of simple stanzas and
diction but they are not simple poems.
In the poem "Desert Places" the speaker is a man who is traveling
through the countryside on a beautiful winter eventing. He is completely
surrounded with feelings of loneliness. The speaker views a snow covered field
as a deserted place. "A blanker whiteness of benighted snow/ With no expression,
nothing to express". Whiteness and blankness are two key ideas in this poem.
The white sybolizes open and empty spaces. The snow is a white blanket that
covers up everything living. The blankness sybolizes the emptyness that the
speaker feels. To him there is nothing else around except for the unfeeling snow
and his lonely thoughts.
The speaker in this poem is jealous of the woods. "The woods around it
have it - it is theirs." The woods symbolizes people and society. They have
something that belongs to them, something to feel a part of. The woods has its
place in nature and it is also a part of a bigger picture. The speaker is so
alone inside that he feels that he is not a part of anything. Nature has a way
of bringing all of her parts together to act as one. Even the animals are a
part of this wintery scene. "All animals are smothered in their lairs,/ I am
too absent-spirited to count". The snow throws its blanket of whiteness over
everything and to him it is a feeling of numbness.
"The loneliness includes me unawares". The speaker has lost his
enthusiasm for life. He can not express his feelings easily because of this
feeling of numbness. The speaker is also in denial about feeling alone. He is
at a stage where he just does not care about too much and he is feeling a bit
paranoid. "They cannot scare me with their empty space." He is saying who cares
how I feel, I do not need anyone else. "I have in me so much nearer home/ To
scare myself with my own desert places". The speaker was starting to realize
that he had shut himself off to the world. He recognized that this winter place
was like his life. He had let depression and loneliness creep into his life and
totally take over like the snow had crept up on the plain and silently covered
it. If he continues to let these feelings run his life, eventually everything
would be snuffed out much like the snow does to nature.
"Stopping by Woods on a Snowny Evening" is a much happier and more
upbeat poem than "Desert Places". This poem is about stopping to enjoy life or
as the cliche goes, stopping to smell the roses. "But I have promises to keep,/
and miles to go before I sleep". The speaker in this poem was a very busy man
who always had obligations to fufill and places to go. A feeling of regret is
present. The man would like to stay and enjoy this private nature scene longer
but he knows that he has other things to do. Again, Frost gives us a beautiful
nature scene but this time we enjoy welcome solitude. "The woods are lovely,
dark and deep". This poem expresses the joy of nature.
The speaker seems concerned about what the rest of society would think
about him just stopping in the middle of nowhere for no apparent reason. His
horse represents society. "My little horse must think it queer/ To stop without
a farmhouse near". He admits that just stopping does seem odd. He is also
somewhat concerned about the man who owns the woods. The man almost feels
guilty for looking so lovingly at this other man\'s woods. "He will not see me
stopping here/ To watch his woods fill up with snow". I think that the speakers
life may be a little better off since he