Choose a poem in which the creation of mood or atmosphere is an important feature. Show how the poet creates the mood or atmosphere, and discuss its importance in your appreciation of the poem as a whole. A reflective mood is created in the poem stopping by woods on a snowy evening by Robert Frost. The poem is about man who stops by some woods on a snowy evening. He takes in the lovely scene in near silence and is tempted to stay for longer but acknowledges the obligations he must keep.
He also mentions the distance he faces before he can to sleep which by the language used in the poem ‘sleep’ actually suggests death. At first the poem gives the impression that it is simply describing a man who is on a journey and quietly stops to observe the winter weather but through the writer’s techniques of word choice and structure. It becomes apparent that the poem is about his inner feelings towards the place rather than just a description. The mystery surrounding this quiet place causes the poet to stop and reflect on his life.
The quiet or reflective mood of the poem is set firstly, by its simple verse structure and close rhyming scheme. The poem has a gentle rhythm almost like a nursery rhyme even stresses on each line and the a,a,b,a rhyming scheme creates a very relaxed atmosphere. This is reinforced by the poet’s use of literally simple words throughout the poem and short, simple sentences. On the surface the poem seems to be simple but the connotations of the words are actually quite complex. The weather and timing of this stop are both significant. It is snowing heavily, with ‘the woods filling up with snow’.
This creates an image of the poet losing his tracks and becoming covered in a blanket implying that he wishes to rest here subtly suggestion death. The fact that the poet stops here on the ‘darkest day of the year’ (the day with least hours of sunlight) seems to reflect the poet’s mood of darkness. The poem develops elements of oddness about the poet stopping in this location. As the poet describes how his horse ‘must think it queer to stop without a farmhouse near’ implies that the isolated location is not a usual place for the horse and the poet to stop.
This again is reiterated in stanza three by the horse giving ‘his harness bells a shake’ in almost a cry out for the poet to hurry up and get moving. However this behaviour of urgency by the horse is answered by the poet taking in the scenery and describing the peaceful scenery of “sweep of easy wind and downy flake”. The contrast between the bright sound of the ‘bells’ and the implied quietness of the “easy” and “downy” reflects the tension between motion and rest which lies at the heart of this poem. Stopping at this location gives the poet the chance to forget about everyday life and causes the poet to reflect on his own life.
This therefore highlights the major conflict in the poem as the poet wants to stay in the woods because it is peaceful place and there are no responsibilities in the woods. Describing the woods a “lovely, dark and deep” again illustrates his fascination towards darkness and the desire of wanting a deep sleep- which both represent death. However the pull outside the woods such as “promises to keep” and the repetition of the last line “And miles to go before I sleep” suggests the poet is on stopping at the woods for a momentarily break from a busy and highly responsible life.
The main conflict of the poem is the pulls between life and death. The poet describes this complex topic very well by using a simple writing style, rhyme and words which all help contain the poet’s mood and emotional state. The poet does not state points explicitly he rather leaves subtle traces of this remarkable occasion through word choice and metaphors. The repetition of the last sentence is a fitting conclusion for the poem as it allows the reader and the poet to consider the past and the present as well a life and death.