Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Stanza I (Lines 1-4) Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Line 1

Whose woods these are I think I know.

  • Our speaker is not the most confident person in the world. This line begins as a question, and we're totally ready to get on board the question train, but then, halfway through the line, he switches it up.
  • He wonders initially who owns "these woods." The word these makes us realize that our speaker is actually near the woods in question.
  • Our speaker then tells us he thinks he knows who owns these woods. Notice how he doesn't say he knows who owns these woods; he says he thinks he knows.
  • Why doesn't our speaker say, "I think I know whose woods these are"? What would be lost or gained if the poem began with that rewritten line?

Line 2

His house is in the village though;

  • The speaker thinks he knows the owner of woods, and this owner lives in a house in the village. Civilization, sweet, sweet civilization!
  • This line tells us that there is a village around here somewhere. The word "village" reminds us of thatched roofs, smoke curling out of little chimneys, and of a few stores and homes clustered around a single main street; in other words, a village is not the most hoppin' place in the world.
  • However, our speaker is relieved that the owner of the woods is in the village – now he doesn't have to worry about getting caught trespassing on someone else's property.

Line 3

He will not see me stopping here

  • Man, this woods-owner guy must be pretty strict if our speaker is so worried about getting caught taking a breather on his property.
  • The speaker is almost trying to calm himself down and reassure himself that the owner "will not see me stopping here," as though he believes that saying so makes it true. It's similar to the magical phrase, "If I can't see them, they can't see me," uttered by Haley Joel Osment in the movie Sixth Sense.
  • This line also tells us that the speaker has stopped, that he's hanging out at the moment.

Line 4

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

  • Our speaker is a total rebel. He's hardcore trespassing so that he can…watch the snow fall?
  • Yes, he has stopped in order to take a gander at snow falling on cedars.

Next Page: Stanza II (Lines 5-8)
Previous Page: The Poem

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