On this day in history, March 7, 1923, Robert Frost’s poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, was published. My mother taught it to me when I was in the fifth grade – I needed something for school – and it was the first poem, I believe, I ever memorized after nursery rhymes.

Though Robert Frost spent much of his life in New England and a few years in England, he was born in San Francisco, California, in 1874.

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.  ~ Robert Frost

I love the imagery of the quiet snow, the wind’s sweep and the tinkle of the bells. The narrator is drawn to the deep woods and the solitude, but reminded by his little horse they have places to go, responsibilities waiting. Frost refers to the responsibilities as “promises to keep” and to me that connotes a desire to accomplish, a willingness to go the miles “before I sleep.”

Mr. Frost graduated from high school in Massachusetts as a co-valedictorian and three years later married the woman who had been the other valedictorian, Elinor White. They had four children and struggled financially while farming in New England.

In 1912 he moved his family to England where he published his first work of poetry, A Boy’s Will in 1913, followed by North of Boston in 1914, which was well received in the United States. He returned to a New England farm at the start of World War I and continued to publish his poetry. A frequent instructor and lecturer at universities, he also was invited to speak at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy….