Thus I forsook Wikipedia,
And took a look instead
At dead tree media.
You know, books. Ones that directly cited Frost's own views.
There are some indications the last line gave him trouble. Jay Panini writes: "The whole poem may have come to Frost in a flash, but he had great trouble with the last stanza. It was some time before he thought of solving the problem by simply repeating the last line." (p 209) Jeffrey Cramer says: "on the ending of the poem, Frost confessed that he had written the third line of the last stanza in a way that called for another stanza. Frost didn't want another and then was struck with the idea to repeat the line to close the poem." (p 79)
From Louis Mertins we have this quote about how the poem was composed:
"As I remember it, 'Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening' was written in just about that way, after I had been working all night long on 'New Hampshire.' But I must admit, it was written in a few minutes without any strain.Daniel Smythe quotes Frost on complicated interpretations:
Critics think I had that sort of all-night struggle before I could write the little poem I'm talking about. They must have heard me say, sometime or other, years back, that I wrote all night, in connection with 'Stopping by Woods.' But the thing I worked on all night had no struggle in it at all. It's in print, called 'New Hampshire.'. . .Then, having finished 'New Hampshire,' I went outdoors, got out sideways and didn't disturb anybody in the house, and about nine or ten o'clock went back in and wrote the piece about the snowy evening and the little horse as if I'd had an hallucination--little hallucination--the one critics write about occasionally. You can't trust these fellows who write what made a poet write what he wrote. We all of us read our pet theories into a poem." (Quoted in full by Cramer, p 77)
This is the one that gets into the anthologies more than any other. The greatest danger is that your mind will get too busy over a poem. You don't have to get busy at all - just let it alone. On the whole, it's kind of fun. You don't go to the circus to make a lot of discussion - you go to gape. There is nothing hard in that poem, but there is a busy-mindedness that makes people want to know about a little thing like that. What is there to know about it? Somebody wants to know what his name was. Will the woods really fill up? That is the way they treat it. They they write, 'Who was that going home that way at night?' Their teacher puts them up to it. (p 57)Reginald Cooke has a transcription of Frost responding to deathly interpretations:
I believe Ciardi and others have said- some people have said - it's a suicide poem. That's going some. But he thinks it's a death poem. And you can see how you could say: "Life is lovely, dark and deep." See. "But I have promises to keep. I have heaven to go to, you know." Like that. You could do that. That analogy's in it. Many others. You say, just as I could right now: this is a lovely dark and dep situation, but I've got something [else], I ought to teach a class tomorrow, or something like that. Promises to keep. Company of an evening. One o'clock in the morning - two o'clock. An appropriate thing to say - that stanza is lovely, dark and deep, but I've got to be getting along. And it doesn't mean that you're going to do anything bad. Sounds rather good to me. I can see that someone might turn it the other way, like the old saying, "I used to be afraid to go home inthe dark, but now I'm afraid to go home at all." [Laughter] They think it's like that. And all this metaphorical play and all! (p 123)Of course, this just addresses
The question of what the poet confesses
Consciously about his work.
Maybe hidden meanings lurk
That he won't admit or doesn't know
Deep in the drift of falling snow.
But I've already written too much, I fear,
So I'm "Stopping" here.