Some poems you read, think ‘yes, very nice’, then forget until you come across them again, and some, once met, you live with. For me this is one of the latter. As a teenager I loved to run at night, and one of my courses, a fifteen-miler, took me far out into unlit countryside. One winter night at about the ten mile mark, just where a country lane passed through dense woods on either side, it began to snow, soft feathery flakes whirling down out of a dark sky, tingling on my tongue and carpeting the ground so that it was like running on white moss. I found that I knew Frost’s poem by heart – it is one of those poems it is difficult not to know by heart – and it ran in my head as I ran, making one of those rare magical moments when life and poetry come together in a perfect fit. I was troubled not at all by the suggestion of a final permanent sleep in that closing line – was I not young, and immortal?
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.
I too am one of the multitude who love this poem and can recite it by heart. It’s one of the foremost poems in the English language.