Epictetus once wrote, "First say what you would be; and then do what you have to do." This aphorism of self-discovery and obligation clearly describes Robert Frost's poem, "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." In the course of the poem, Frost's speaker is confronted with two choices: he can either forget his problems or he can follow through with his responsibilities and make the most of life. It is through Frost's remarkable presentation of the speaker's thoughts that the reader may see how difficult this decision can be. Through powerful elements, such as alliteration, rhythm, and imagery, Frost stresses the importance of perseverence and facing one's fears and obligations.
To accentuate the importance of perseverance as opposed to giving up, Frost uses clear alliteration in the speaker's thoughts. In the beginning, the speaker's flowing words accent his state of near acquiescence with his dream world. But soon, reality reminds him of his responsibilities when the speaker's horse "gives his harness bells a shake / To ask if there is some mistake" (Frost 9-10). Frost ingeniously employs the sudden, harsh k alliteration to emphasize the demands of the real world upon the speaker. However, Frost reveals the speaker's confusion over what path to choose when he realizes "The only other sound's the sweep / Of easy wind and downy flake" (Frost 11-12). Frost's usage of the soft s and w sounds of the peaceful snow contrasts with the harshness of the real world and persuades the speaker that much more to forget his obligations. Furthermore, according to John T. Ogilvie, "the repetition of 'sleep' in the final two lines suggests that he may succumb to the influe...
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...seems the better road to take, choosing the path of life and all its responsibilities in faith will be so much more fulfilling in the end. After all, Heart Warrior Chosa once said, "In the darkest hour the soul is replenished and given strength to continue and endure" to the end. Besides, a promise is a promise.
Frost, Robert. "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." The Bedford Introduction to
Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing. 5th ed. Ed. Michael Meyer. Boston:
Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999. 989.
Hochman, Jhan. "An overview of 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening'." Poetry
for Students (1997). 21 Mar. 2001. <http://www.galenet.com/servlet/LitRC>.
Ogilvie, John T. "From Woods to Stars: A Pattern of Imagery in Robert Frost's
Poetry." South Atlantic Quarterly 58.1 (1959). 20 Mar. 2001. <http://www.galenet.com/servlet/LitRC>.
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