Marcus Balmer The woods are lovely, dark and deep .

Making close reference to language, imagery and verse form, consider the ways in which the countryside is presented in Stopping by Woods. How does Frost s presentation of the countryside in this poem relate to the methods and concerns of other poems in the selection?
Within, Stopping by Woods, Frost recognises the countryside as a thing of natural beauty, presenting an attractive alternative to the speaker s village life. There is an unmistakable complexity about the woods in that Frost presents it to be endearing and tranquil while we get a strong sense of danger and adventure. However, there is an intriguing simplicity about the woods which seems to draw the speaker away from the promises and barriers of everyday life. The various possible interpretations are subtly promoted throughout the text through the appealing and colloquial language, the use of rhyme and the use of the horse and the consequent uncertainty surrounding the countryside described is both fascinating and frightening. Firstly, Frost emphasises the beauty and serenity of the countryside in order to justify the speaker s enchantment with the woods by using easy, calm narration to highlight the peace of the scene and the narrator. In the third stanza, Frost describes the sound as the sweep / Of easy wind and downy flake, and the decision to use the verb sweep, rather than a harsher word and vocabulary like easy, or downy, (adjectives which would not typically narrate a snow storm) is to highlight the feeling of tranquillity which comes so out of place in the hostile conditions of the countryside. The atmosphere is further heightened by enjambment to underline the ongoing and unhurried scene of the falling snow while the consonance - the subtle use of a w sound - slows the pace of the line and exaggerates the relaxation with which we imagine the narrator to speak. Interestingly, the w sound echoes itself throughout the poem and so even when presenting the countryside in a more negative light we are reminded through alliterations like to watch his woods fill up with snow, that there is an alluring stillness and harmony in the air. A similar method is used in The sound of trees, in which Frost uses alliteration of the w sound in order to illustrate the natural and carefree mood of the countryside with lines like I wonder about the trees, why do we wish to bear... In both poems the choice of language is essential in achieving the effect of making the reader feel tranquil in the same way as the speaker and in this way the countryside is presented as a very natural and enjoyable thing. On another level, the woods are presented not only as a thing of beauty, charming the traveller but as a thing of adventure, exciting him and the playful elements within the poem highlight a positive attitude towards the countryside. The first three stanzas follow an identical rhyming pattern with full rhymes on the first, second and fourth lines such as know, though, and snow, and this choice of form doesn t add a playful, jolly sense as such, but it creates a rhythm and pace which captures the feeling of restrained excitement. The colloquial tone to the piece re-enforces this as it sounds like the narrator is talking to himself, indulging in the possibilities of adventure which lay before him and phrases like my little horse must think it queer, posses a mocking feel with adjectives like little, and the speaker seems to be amused by considering the horses feelings. The continuing rhyme and playful, colloquial flourishes such as the personification of the horse to ask if there is some mistake, all add to the feel of good humoured and mischievous excitement, suggesting that Frost is not only perceiving the countryside to be poignant and beautiful, but is also considering the woods themselves as a possibility for adventure that could be absent from normal life. Rhyme and tone also come together in this way to achieve a playful atmosphere in Gathering Leaves, where

The speaker hides his uneasiness under layers of frivolity saying how it could be elves. the countryside also evokes an underlying sense of danger which is achieved through a subtext. the traveller seems to become more aware of this danger as the line: the woods are lovely. Suddenly the image of the traveller speaking his thoughts aloud is gone and now Frost s words suggest a sudden re-alignment of character. Most noticeably. standard form of poem undoubtedly reflecting the formal standard way of life which awaits the traveller at his destination. the countryside is presented to be an alternative to the traveller s standard lifestyle and we can see the difference in form between the first three verses which dwell on the countryside and the last stanza which concerns itself with his duties at home. is quite sinister. In the other paragraphs the penultimate line ends with a word which would fit perfectly into the following stanza which created a feeling of excitement and a desire to push forward into the woods. it is a humorous image on the surface yet we can see that the horse also senses the potential danger of the situation. the established circumstance and ambiguous vocabulary. Accompanying these feelings of awe and excitement. where the poem ensues with longwinded. this paragraph feels far more formal. returning the reader to a formal. but they do succeed in influencing ones reading of the poem. In both these poems. to watch his woods fill up with snow. adventurous and dangerous world of the woods. The opening stanza establishes that the owner of woods is in the village and the speaker states He will not see me stopping here. yet the vague something. uses the alliteration of the d. dark and deep. to spoons. Most of all however. Frost uses the subtext to hint at a dangerous side to nature and in this case. Similarly. while being an object of much amusement on the one hand. sound to give the last two adjectives added impact. Similarly. the sentences become shorter and less composed as if the speaker is falling asleep. The use of ambiguity and language to introduce a subtext is used in Mending Wall. it would seem that the beauty and the sense of adventure has enchanted the traveller so much that he almost forgets the hazard of exploring woods alone. nature the danger of the woods. as if he is reprimanding his sudden loss of common sense and has to force himself away from the woods. . formal sentences but after many suggestions of being overtired. there is a subtext which infers the risk of the situation when completely alone. being the only stanza to conclude each line with a piece of punctuation. suggesting that the speaker is recognising.Marcus Balmer the full rhyme on alternate lines. introduced through the language. This manipulation of style and form to reflect the narration is evident in After Apple Picking. and bags. and balloons. the horse seems to possess more sense here and when Frost writes he gives his harness bells a shake to ask if there is some mistake. The subtexts introduced are not always noticeable. While on the surface this evidently refers to the fact that the traveller will not get into trouble. where the speaker approaches the task with a playful apprehension and says something there is that doesn t love a wall. Although these two poems manipulate the structure in completely opposite ways the technique is the same and has the same effect of helping us connect with the story through the verse form. despite its lovely. the countryside. In a sense. quickens the pace considerably and the exaggerated similes of comparing spades. creates an excited childlike feel presenting nature to be a thing of adventure. this stanza breaks the verse pattern in choosing to rhyme all four lines instead of simply three. during a snow storm on the darkest evening of the year. However this has gone here and both these sudden changes take us out of the enchanting. By the end of the poem.

beautiful and free all at the same time. Perhaps.Marcus Balmer Nature is a topic around which Frost bases a lot of his poems and is a medium through which Frost communicates many ideas and opinions. Frost s argument is meant to be generalised to life. mundane living can be exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. with the countryside representing the way alternatives to standard. . These poems often present nature in one particular light. yet this is arguably one of Frost s most intricate poems in the way he succeeds in presenting the countryside. as being exciting. This layer ed presentation of the countryside not only encourages the reader to form their own emotional reactions to the woods but also to consider how a thing of nature can be all these things at once. dangerous.

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