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Anthropomorphism:

 

Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"

 

Robert Frost’s well-known “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” (1923) provides an interesting example of anthropomorphism, since it shows how two natures can coexist in one text:

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

5

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.

10

 

 

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,

15

And miles to go before I sleep.

 

 

The horse: On the one hand, the poem features a little horse which thoroughly behaves like a human being. It thinks and asks (5, 10), and, moreover, what it thinks is consonant with what a normal person would think: what on earth is anybody doing at this time of the year, this late, in front of a dark forest? In doing so, the thinking, common-sensical horse, becomes even more socialized than the persona, for it does not understand the secret bond of the persona with the forest.

The persona: The persona, on the other hand, is also socialized, since he has “promises to keep” (l.14); but he does so unwillingly, and seems more responsive to what the forest offers: stillness, darkness, depth (ll.11-13) and sleep (l.16), which means either rest or death, and if the latter, metaphysics.

The forest: Of course, the forest, the snow and the darkness are also parts of nature, only that they refer the reader directly to metaphysics.

Conclusion: This poem is unusual, because a characterising trait of human beings, socialization, is attributed to the horse, while the human being who appears in the poem is metaphysical rather than social. Of course, the forest, in being metaphysical, tells us that ultimately, the metaphysical yearning of the persona is itself a natural yearning.

daniel.candel@uah.es | ©2008 Daniel Candel Bormann