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Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening


by Robert Frost

Stanza III (Lines 9-12) Summary

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

Line 9

He gives his harness bells a shake

  • Even though the speaker can read his little horse's mind, the horse can't talk back.
  • So, the next best option is to shake his booty. And by shaking his booty, we mean that he shakes his harness a little. There are little bells attached to his harness, which give a nice little jingle (think Santa Claus's sleigh).

Line 10

To ask if there is some mistake.

  • Again with the mind reading. Our speaker knows his horse is shaking his bells in order to "ask" his master if something is awry, is there's a problem.
  • It's kind of like the horse is saying, "Hey, is everything OK? We've been standing here staring at nothing for a little while, and I just wanted to make sure you didn't need me to keep on truckin'. I'm cool with the standing still thing, but I just wanted to make sure I wasn't misinterpreting you."

Line 11

The only other sound's the sweep

  • Beyond the harness bells' shaking, the only other sound that the speaker can hear is the "sweep."
  • The word "sweep" makes us think of the sound brooms make when they sweep dust into a dustpan.
  • At this point, we realize that the speaker is taking inventory of all of the sounds around him. He's interested in sounds.

Line 12

Of easy wind and downy flake.

  • The sweeping noise comes from the slight wind and the softly falling snow.
  • Have you ever listened to snow falling? It's very, very quiet. There's just a gentle whirr. Everything is very, very still.

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