I am writing a 1,200 word essay discussing the thematic and formal connections and differences between "The Road not Taken" and "Stopping by Woods One Snowy Evening".
I understand some thematic connections (seasons, pastoral images, woods, what the narrator sees and what the narrator feels, traditional poetic form with the naturalness of common speech, darker "underlying world" in the poems, how the narrator is alone and burdened with choice, persistence to time and change...) can you help me name any more, perhaps more important themes I may have overlooked?
I am having a bit of an issue with the differences of the two poems. Again, I understand a bit (one is in fall (yellow wood) and the other in winter); in "The Road..", the narrator is burdoned with choice and anxiety about making the wrong choice, in "Stopping by woods..." the narrator is burdoned with a promise, and a cart, and must make a choice to continue on. In addition, in "stopping by woods", I believe the narrator is contending with hypothermia, and death (falling alsleep) because of the cold, hence ending the last two lines by repeating, "And miles to go before I sleep" much like a final sigh, which differs from the "telling this with a sigh" line that expresses (in my view) regret in "the Road Not Taken". Am I missing anything?
I am at a loss regarding "formal connections"! Please give me a hint!
Please help me in structuring this paper by addressing the above issues...I have a rough draft due tomorrow at 8 am. If you have any other suggestions on how to better this paper, please let me know! Thank you!
For your Reference:
The Road Not Taken
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
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.
First, to the question of thematic similarities and differences. I think you're right in interpreting a darker "underlying world" beneath the pastoral settings. Frost doesn't actually say what the "promises" are or where the "two roads" lead, but gets across a feeling (called tone) about the decisions he's making. Having some kinds of information (a feeling) and not other kinds (the specifics, as we might get in a story or novel) lets us relate the poems to the decisions we make - biology or chemistry? Children or career? Do we stop and enjoy what's happening to us now, or make sacrifices for the future? The decisions featured in each poem, and the way the narrator feels about those decisions as well as his own process of decision-making, might be useful as a source of comparisons and contrasts and could relate to some of your other observations.
I don't think that, in "Stopping By Woods," the narrator is worried about hypothermia or falling asleep in the snow (he seems to calmly, almost playfully consider what his horse is thinking, whether his neighbor can see him, etc.): I think he isn't looking forward to his long, tiring journey and is tempted by the idea of wandering and enjoying the woods. The darkness of the poem, as you say, is kept underneath: the action isn't as dramatic as some of his other poems, like ...
The solution discusses the thematic and formal connections and differences.