Frost’s poems are simple and profound. The words are easy to understand, but latent with meaning. The repeated final lines of “miles to go” is haunting.
Is it the speaker’s temptation to avoid obligations, to remain in the “lovely” woods, aware of duties elsewhere? That he must go farther, physically and metaphorically, before he can finally rest?
The poem’s wagon driver narrator is all of us. As we close this week which includes both Mardi Gras’ revelries and Ash Wednesday reflections, as the example of human barbarity continues in Ukraine, and as we each bear personal worries, what are our “promises to keep?”
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
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.