Poetry Seminar: Personal Response to “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Personal Response to Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

By Robert Frost

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.


Short Story:

When Robert Smith closes his eyes, he could still hear the sounds of the dreadful war in his youth. The sounds of the clicking of the magazine,  the pull of the trigger, the bullets whizzing past his face, the explosions, bombings, everything. He even heard the sounds of  the dark woods; the beauty of those woods was just a camouflage for a massacre. The trees in those woods all died because of all the iron they absorbed from the blood flooding across the dirt. It really was the deception of growing life. But worst of all, he heard the men’s screams; for help, in agony, and in pain. It was a miracle he was still alive.    

But there was one place where all the sounds would gradually fade away if he stayed long enough. The clicking if the magazine, and the pull of the trigger, would be replaced  with the sounds of the crickets chirping. The bullets, explosions, and bombings would be replaced with the sounds of the small animals scurrying across the plain, and the sounds of spring and birth. He could no longer see the images of the dark, bloody woods. But best of all, the men’s screams would be replaced with the sounds of the gentle, rolling waves of the brilliant, blue lake.

This lake was an isolated place;  not even a farmhouse was near it. This place was his most favourite place; it rejuvenated him, and brought the memories of his peaceful childhood; before the war happened, back to the surface of his chained and wounded heart. He was sitting on his most comfortable lawn chair, and he thought of his grandchildren, and the innocent, happy faces of each and everyone of them. What lucky kids. As if reading his mind, his grandchildren appeared before him, with their mother, laughing, smiling, and asking to play with them. He removed his hat resting on the tip of his nose, and stood up, breathing in the refreshing, gentle wind. They all walked along the shoreline of the lake, building sand castles, treading in the cool, relaxing water, and leaving their footprints against the sand, before they were washed away by the waves. Then they all slowly rode their horses back to their house, and went to bed.                                                               

He really did have miles to go before he slept.



Being born in 1874, Robert Frost has undergone a period of war. His personal life was plagued with grief and loss. In 1885 when Robert Frost was 11, his father died of tuberculosis, leaving the family with just eight dollars. Frost’s mother died of cancer in 1900. In 1920, Frost had to commit his younger sister Jeanie to a mental hospital, where she died nine years later. Mental illness apparently ran in Frost’s family, as both he and his mother suffered from depression, and his daughter, Irma, was committed to a mental hospital in 1947. Frost’s wife, Elinor, also experienced bouts of depression.

Due to the fact that Robert Frost had experienced such hardships, I decided to take a creative approach on a man who is a retired soldier, and still reminisces about his experience in war.  His light through his negative nostalgia are the peaceful days with his grandchildren and the calmness of the lake he visits. The lake is a symbol of rejuvenation for this retired soldier, and serves as a place for his healing mind to relax. The last line of “He really did have miles to go before he slept”, refers to his time left in the the world before he dies, or “sleeps”. This is because the soldier has formed bonds with his grandchildren and those around him, and realizes that there is still a long time to live as a whole human being, rather than a broken man like Willard from Apocalypse Now.




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One thought on “Poetry Seminar: Personal Response to “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

  1. Kelly!

    Reading this personal response was so lovely, because I got to see into that cute little head of yours! I loved being able to read a piece of writing because I feel as though I got to see a part of you that I don’t see in class, both because you aren’t the most vocal, but also because I don’t have the pleasure to sit with you in a family group.

    As for the poem response, I would like to commend you on being able to draw the meaning and matter from this poem so seamlessly. I loved how you chose to comment on this poem in the form of of a short story where you referenced direct lines from the piece, such as the infamous “And miles to go before I sleep.” By doing so, it demonstrated your abilities to understand the concept of a personal response, while still being able to draw conclusions that come with the theme of the work, an overall relate it to the human condition.

    Your style an voice is elegant and thoughtful, and I truly appreciate the simple, yet impactful nature that exists in the air of your writing. As I mentioned before, it was nice to read your piece and see some of the similarities that exist between both your character and your writing.

    Thank you for also including the explanation at the ending of your piece. I found this to be a wise choice as you were able to solidify your ideas of theme in this brief explanation of your response, thus furthering your ability to make a good personal response to text. I would offer for the final exam however that you do try to stick to one type of response. The creative response is one that you are obviously talented in (as demonstrated by this piece), but if you were to respond creatively on the exam, you would need to do so in a way that is able to tie in a theme into the piece, without an explanation afterwards. On the opposite side of the spectrum, your analytical skills are profound, so I would most certainly suggest the possibility of a CPU (creative, personal, universal) response on the final exam. I do understand however that this assignment was more generalized, as it only asked for a response to the poem.

    Overall, I believe that this response was impactful and important, and you were most certainly able to make me further understand Frost’s poem, so thank you!

    You are a breath of fresh air in this class, and I look forward to see you blossom in AP English in the years to come!

    With love,


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