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Thread: Interesting True Story about "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"

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    Interesting True Story about "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"

    What follows is an interesting true story about Robert Frost and the correct interpretation of "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening."

    One of my best friends took a poetry class in highschool (probably his freshman year). The class studied the aforementioned poem and the teacher encouraged each student to try to interpret it. After the students had each come to a conclusion as to what the poem signified, the the class discussed it. During the discussion the teacher insisted that the poem was about contemplating committing suicide by running off into the freezing woods. My friend was skeptical. He argued that perhaps Frost meant precisely what he said: he was simply stopping by woods on a snowy evening and contemplating them. But the teacher, standing on all her awesome authority as teacher, informed him in no uncertain terms that he was in error.

    Time passed. One day this same teacher found herself at an English teachers conference of some sort. During this time a her supervisor took her and several other fellow teachers aside. He told them that there was someone very special there that he wanted them to meet; they could ask questions, but they were to be very polite and not irritate this person. He led them into a room, and there he was: Robert Frost in the flesh.

    They had a Q & A session, discussing Frost's poetry. At that point the teacher asked Frost, What did he mean when he wrote "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening"? Was the speaker contemplating suicide?

    "No," was Frost's answer: he meant exactly what he said--he was simply riding along on his horse one day and stopped by woods... on a snowy evening. And that was all there was to it.
    Be respectful to your superiors, if you have any. — Mark Twain

    We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for, I have no idea. — W.H. Auden

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    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    That's wonderful. But the author's intention doesn't limit any one reader's personal interpretation. That's the beauty of literature.

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    This article will open your eyes to the pitfalls of teaching and studying poetry in high school "language arts" classes (formerly known as "English"), especially in regard to common misinterpretations of Frost's poems, specifically "The Road Not Taken."

    http://www.eiu.edu/~ipaweb/pipa/volume3/kilgore.htm

    {And, Wilde Woman, good to see you back on the LitNet!}

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilde woman View Post
    That's wonderful. But the author's intention doesn't limit any one reader's personal interpretation. That's the beauty of literature.
    I definitely liked the story and it's incredible that we know what frost meant as it came from his own mouth. However, I agree that the author's intentions don't have to limit any one reader's interpretation. It's indeed beautiful that we can make it out to be what we want, but the original meaning will still be there.

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