One has to read the poem out loud to experience the magic of its cadences.(c.f. W. H. Auden's definition of poetry as memorable speech.)
Frost says he repeated the last line because he couldn't think of any other.Clearly he also recognised that there was no need for any other.
The statement in the last verse is that beauty is compelling and he would love to linger, but he has work to do.
'Sleep' may refer to nightime sleep, or the more lasting sleep of death.
Well, I guess everyone can interpret a poem the way they want. Great poets are those that get across multiple ideas with a single poem. BUT, it is known that Frost's poetry isn't as light and cheerful as many people think. And this poem is quite dark if you are getting the message he was expressing.
I'm surprised how optimistic the commentary on this poem is, and with how the majority of people view his work. Frost has been called one of the darkest poets of our time, and the most accurate interpretations of his poems are often left out of grade school curriculums for the same reason kids spend weeks learning about Martin Luther King Jr. but Malcolm X is mentioned only in passing.
Robert Frost had a horrible life. His father died of tuberculosis when he was 11, leaving the family poor and destitute, and his mother later died of cancer. His younger sister was committed to a mental hospital and died there nine years later, and he had to send his daughter to an asylum as well. Out of his six children, only two outlived him (a son commited suicide, a son and daughter from disease and another daughter from SIDS) , and his wife died of cancer and heart failure.
This is not an uplifting poem about can-do spunk and optimism. The narrator and rider of this poem is not smilng or daydreaming. It is an epiphany about stoic duty. The woods symbolize death, and indirectly suicide. It would be very easy for the rider to simply give in and embrace death, which seems far more welcome than the responsibilities he is bound to. But instead, he forges on grimly, all because of duty.
Like all great art, this poem communicates on many levels. It paints a picture of the peaceful warmth of snowy woods on a quiet evening that conjurs up many memories of similar times and places. Is it meant to inspire one to create and face new challenges in life after you get to a peaceful place. Or, is he telling us that our worldly endeavors keep us achieving inner peace? A lot of his poetry is about choices, is he forced to make a choice between what he wants to do and what he thinks he should do? Most strikingly, it attempts to answer the age old question, 'If you believe in heaven, why not die? '
Possibly, the narrator was drawn to stay in those woods that night. His stopping there was so out of character that his horse was uneasy, perhaps sensing that something was not right. How comfortable it would be to stay here, no more responsibilties or cares, in these woods that are 'lovely, dark, and deep.'
Perhaps he then realized he had obligations, 'promises to keep, ' and many things to do before he could sleep. 'Sleep' here perhaps being an allegory for death.
I have been a poetry afficionado all my life, but Robert Frost's poems have always struck a chord with me, especially this one. Every winter, I ride past the woods near my house and just sit there and think of this, even though I know it's meaning is much deeper. I want it read at my funeral.
'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. '
Since my school days these lines have repeatedly lingered in my mind reminding me of my obligations to be fulfilled.This poem has been there in my all time favourites.