The poetry of Robert Frost was written in the early 1900s and have become a standard in American Poetry. Frost was a prolific author and poet who had the unique ability to effortlessly combined the rich and varied American landscape with modernized transcendental thinking. His poems continue to inspire poets, students, and casual readers. Many of his poems center around nature, his love for New England landscape, and the human experience. These poems are usually set in the colorful New England landscape at the onset of fall and memorializes the journey of one man forced to decide, choose, ponder, or reflect.
Similarly, decades later, Thylias Moss utilizes Frost’s classic form in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” and applies her more modern and cultural diverse themes and landscaped creating “Interpretation of a Poem by Frost”. Both authors create their own point of view from their own personal experiences. After a close reading of each poem it is clear, that Frost and Moss develop and support the theme that life is about making hard choices and committing to those choices. The same theme can be found in each poem.
Both poems death a young person being tempted to do something they know they shouldn’t. In Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening Frost wrote that “Whose woods these are I think I know. / His house is in the village though;” (ln 1-2). The speaker does not succumb; he moves on to keep his promises. In the more recent poem the speaker likewise refuses to turn from a promise. Here the reader is told what the speaker had promised himself: stars. Stars, of course, symbolize light as opposed to darkness.
Similarly, in Moss’ version she writes “A young black girl stopped by the woods, / So young she knew only one man: Jim Crow (ln 1-2). The speaker continues “But she wasn’t allowed to call him Mister. / The woods were his and she respected his boundaries” (ln 3-4). Just as Frost’s speaker is tempted but refuses the offer to be tempted into woods, so does the speaker in Moss’ poem. Her speaker understands that the woods belong to Jim Crow and she has no place there, “He will not see me stopping here / To watch his woods fill up with snow. ” (ln 3-4).
Frost continues “The darkest evening of the year. / He gives his harness bells a shake / To ask if there is some mistake. ” (ln 8-10), and agrees he, like the girl, will not be tempted to stray from the path Frost and Moss use nature imagery. Frost uses the images of “woods and frozen lake” (ln 7) and “wind and downy flake” (ln 12). Moss uses similarly, imagery in “declining autumn, watches snow inter the grass” (ln 10). However, the rhyme is different. In the first stanza of Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” the end-rhymed words are “know,” “though,” “here,” and “snow”.
In Moss’s version they are The rhyme scheme for this stanza would be labeled aaba, since lines 1, 2, and 4 all have the same rhyme sound, while line 3 introduces a new sound. That new sound (b) becomes the predominant rhyme in the second stanza, which rhymes bbcb–introducing a third rhyming sound in the third line. The third stanza rhymes ccdc. And the final stanza rhymes dddd. The rhyme scheme in Moss’ version has no rhyming and is more freestyle. Well the theme is the same in each poem but the experiences are different.
Frost writes about a man on his way to a friend house who is tempted off the road by the woods. Moss has a totally different viewpoint. She writes from the perspective of a young black girl who is being tempted to conform to societal pressures. The girl is tempted to be just like “Jim Crow” even though she knows that she doesn’t belong in “his woods”. She struggles with being black and the discrimination that she has experienced. Both speakers interact with a horse. Frost writes “My little horse must think it queer” (ln 6) and Moss explains “On the limited audience of horse” (ln 17).
Frost and Moss uses similar literary devices – rhyme, theme, and symbols to create poems with similar themes. The authors through the utilization of their own personal experiences and misadventures develops a theme of universal experience in his poetry. The idea of universal experience is a major reason that Frost’s Moss’ poetry is popular, well loved, and stood the test of time.
Frost, Robert. “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” The Witness Tree. New York: Henry Holt, 1942.