After the usual January Thaw where our temps got into the fifties (believe me that’s warm for Michigan in the winter), snow started falling last night. Big, light flakes. Steady. Falling like rain. By the time I saw it, the snow had covered the lawn, sidewalk and street. And the Robert Frost poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” popped into my head.
I don't think I’ve read that poem since freshman year in college. I must have memorized it once since the words are so familiar. I do remember analyzing it to death—as we did all poems in lit class. Maybe that explains why I never liked poetry much. I never understood why we couldn’t just enjoy the words/story. I felt the same way about the books I had to read in college. We couldn’t just enjoy a good story. No. We had to pick it apart, which destroyed any enjoyment.
Today’s eighteen-year-olds are a lot more sophisticated than I was. They are taught analytical skills in high school that I didn’t develop for years. With the benefit of hindsight and years of writing, I understand. Some stories do have hidden meanings. Themes. Whether the writer intended there to be or not. We can read for enjoyment or delve deeper. Does it make the story more enjoyable to examine the goal, motivation and conflict of each of the major characters? Does it help to know the historic background during which a story takes place? Now I would agree. I love books clubs for that very reason. Different people have different takes on stories. Sharing what we read is enjoyable.
Back to Frost’s poem. Was he talking about death or duty when he wrote “miles to go before I sleep”? Frankly, I don’t care. I just like the imagery. He mentions “easy wind and downy flakes.” That’s exactly the way the snow came down last night. Not a blizzard, no wind. Just enough snow to hide the brown grass and ugly mud from the thaw and the flakes glistening from the streetlight. Beautiful.