On this day, March 7, in 1923, Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” was published by the New Republic. This poem is one of the first that I set to memory. I carry it with me everywhere I go.
I carry its emptiness through my busy, busy days. The little horse shaking its harness bells is such a quiet sound in the midst of the teenage voices and car engines and noise of TV and computer that fill my days.
The “easy wind and downy flake” are suspended in my bones while I try to shut the car door against the southern Oklahoma wind and grab for my sunglasses in the stark light of the day.
I pass a slew of abandoned farmhouses on my way to work each morning but none seem as quiet, as lyrical, as lonely as the one that is not even near on that “darkest evening of the year.”
The death wish that some people say Frost’s poetry contains is always present with life. In the midst of life, we are . . . and so it goes (as Vonnegut would say). This poem about wanting to sleep in the dark and deep woods is the network of veins under our skin.
The blood is our desire to go another mile, just one more mile, before we sleep. Thank you, Robert Frost, for the gift of your forest that fills my life.