18) Poetry: Stopping by Woods

I like poetry because I like language. I like the way that words sound, how they fit together and how they can be used to create images that baffle even as they impress. I like flowing, melodious poetry, and I like choppy discordant poetry. Exploration of themes which use the most precise words in the most succinct way, to make you feel, ‘Yes, that’s it – that’s exactly what that’s like’. Or, poetry ranging issues that I’ve never thought about before, never taken the time to consider – that make me think, ‘That’s what it’s like? To be there, to do that, to feel this?’.

The first poem I ever memorised was Robert Frost’s Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. My Dad taught it to me – he’s a big poetry fan, and has about a hundred of his favourites tucked away in his head. He inspired my list item to memorise 30 poems, and about half of my most beloved poems I’ve learnt directly from him. I learnt Stopping by Woods when I was seven, and almost twenty years later have re-committed it to memory.


Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

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.
All image credit to Briony Station; it’s from a trip I made with a few friends a couple years ago to Chatsworth House. I like the photo because it’s a) snowy, and b) woody – and it looks like we’re genuinely travelling for a while. I’m the figure on the right, closest to the camera.

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