Do any of you know who wrote that line? I’ll give you a hint of what the scenery looks like…
Snowy woods. Robert Frost seems to have an innate fascination with slumbering birches and pines when they’re being coated by blankets of fluffy, white powder. And who doesn’t? The feeling of standing outside while it snows is a special one. The world almost seems quieter in a way, as if everything is dimmed by the snowfall. However, although I think that snow is something magical in itself, I certainly haven’t written a series of poems about how this makes me feel, let alone write poems that have been included in The Norton Anthology of American Literature.
Robert Frost has the ability to illuminate nature through his poems. Through carefully selected words and meticulous examinations of various natural phenomena, he weighs the importance of humans on nature and also offers comparisons of how life parallels the natural world that we live in. For example, in his poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, he beautifully and simply says that the best moments in life are finite, just as the changing colors of leaves. While leaves may be most attractive while they are newly gold, they quickly change and then drop from the tree. Frost compares this to life and the seasons of change that all of us experience.
As I mentioned before, one of Frost’s favorite images in nature is that of a dark, snowy night. In his poem “Birches”, he uses trees bent over from the weight of ice in comparison to those bent over because of the playfulness of young boys to demonstrate how within nature there is an inherent presence of innocence. Frost expresses admiration for people who let their imaginations run wild in nature by flinging themselves off of branches and learning to properly ride a tree. Within these passages that explain innocence, Frost also explains a lament at the loss of such quality. Frost includes a loaded passage in which he describes the intricacies of a field of birches that have been hit by an ice storm. He explains that there are such “heaps of broken glass to sweep away / You’d think the inner dome of heaven had fallen” and that even “Years afterwards, [they trail] their leaves on the ground” (Frost, 12-13, 18-19). This specific and thoughtful description of the long-term effects of natural events show that while Frost is concerned with answering fundamental life questions, he is also deeply involved in understanding nature.
The poem that really got me thinking (even though all of Frost’s poems did), was “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. In the poem, Frost describes himself stopping in the middle of the woods while riding his horse just so he can look out at the snow falling on the trees. The poem has a melancholy tone to it, perhaps because of the bleak way that Frost views his “promises to keep” to the world (13). He seems to enjoy the stillness of nature and the peace that the “easy wind and downy flake” of the snowfall bring to him, which show that he is more comfortable and content in the natural environment than he is in the ‘human’ world where he is met with obligations and responsibilities to others (12). Although the entire poem is beautiful (I recommend that you look it up and read the whole thing), the last stanza is particularly powerful:
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, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”, 13-16
These lines, especially with the repetition of the last line at the end are almost haunting in a way. Within a few, small words, Frost manages to convey his complex love for the woods and nature by personifying them in such an eerie and beautiful manner. In addition, he is able to express his dissatisfaction with the world and his obligations within the last three lines. By stating twice that he has many more miles to travel, it is as if he is affirming to himself that he must not stay in the woods all night. While he desires to stay alone in the woods and watch the snow fall (perhaps to his own peril), he recognizes that he has obligations to others and uses this as motivation to carry himself away from the snow-capped trees and branches that captivate him.
While reading this poem, I got the inspiration to make something “lovely, dark, and deep”. What is it? A decadent vat of chocolate-peanut butter mousse. It’s a rich dessert but far less mysterious ingredient-wise than the woods described in Frost’s poem. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe for the chocolate mousse (twigs optional!).
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Mousse
1/2 block silken tofu
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons vanilla almond milk
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon agave
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 of a banana
1. Robert Frost probably could’ve managed making this mousse while sitting on his horse in the middle of the woods. That’s how easy it is. Dump all ingredients into a food processor and blend until they are well mixed and the mousse is creamy.
2. Go watch snow fall or stand in the woods or something while the mousse chills in the fridge for an hour or two.
3. Dig into the mousse! I hope you find it as lovely as Frost found the snow-covered forest!!