Promises to Keep

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, excerpt taken from Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening


I read this poem for the first time when I was in first grade. (Mrs. Meagher had a slight obsession with Robert Frost.)

I reread this poem multiple times in high school, having to do in-depth literary analysis – thank you to to Ms. Travers and Ms. Moore for teaching me all the “literary devices”.

I hate doing that actually. I hate that the literati are always going on about symbolism. Insisting that every little word placed in each delicate spot serves a purpose to the greater theme of mortality in our lifeeeeeee. (as just an example). bleh. jeesh. spare me the melodrama. Maybe Robert Frost really was just writing about snowy woods ya know? Maybe, for once, there is no deeper meaning to it all. Fancy that.

However, the last four lines of this poem are extremely meaningful for me right now.

That is the wonderful thing about literature, poetry, music, painting, sculpture – you name it, any form of art. Interpretation is subjective. Of course, the creators themselves know the correct answer, they know the real message of their work – but that doesn’t mean that our eyes cannot also find something else between the lines, colors, or melodies. I also believe that depending on whatever is taking place in our lives at the moment – stress, depression, anxiety or love, joy, vitality –  will affect what we feel and see in art. So, every time I revisit a beloved book, painting, or song I may discover something within it I did not previously.

I struggle a lot with getting caught up in the momentary pleasures of day to day life. I give in to my desires too quickly and cast off the commitments I made to myself like the heel on a loaf of bread. (Honestly, because really who wants to use the heel of the bread?? 1: It’s always dry and crusty. 2: It’s always smaller because it’s at the end of the loaf where it starts sloping down. 3: It’s called the “heel”. EWW. I don’t want to eat the “heel” of anything. Thanks. No thanks. And that’s why no one feels bad about wasting that slice of bread, because no one wanted to eat it in the first place). I need to be stronger in my convictions. Practice what I preach, all that good stuff . I need to maintain faith in what I feel is right for me, and stick to it. Keep my promises. And don’t sleep on them, until it truly is time to go to bed.

Do you have a favorite poem? I’m always looking for suggestions of new authors to read, so please share!

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