Friday, December 28, 2007

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Poem by Robert Frost, from New Hampshire (1923).
Photos by Arthur Durkee, 28 December 2007.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village, though;

He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it's queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.

The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

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.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful interpretation of my favorite poem.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...


What do you think, folks, maybe this could become an illustrated children's book?

5:59 PM  
Anonymous A. L. said...

was that third photo taken in Ithaca, NY? It looks awfully familiar, if it is the same house I think it is, I almost lived there!
beautiful shots, one of my favorite poems, thanks!

3:17 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

HI, A.L.—

Actually, all of these photos were shot in one afternoon, in the middle of a whiteout blizzard, in southern Wisconsin. Mostly around Janesville and Beloit.

That one house is a lovely house, one of my favorites in town.

I actually spent the summer of 1990 in Ithaca, doing summer session at Cornell, so I know what you mean about the houses there. It's a great town, very picturesque.

Thanks for your comments. Very much appreciated.

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny because i'm actually doing this poem as a text transformation for coursework at school and searching for pictures led me to your spot. They're really good, thanks for some inspiration.

Rich Swift


9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's nice to encounter another soul who enjoy's this poem. The photography is beautiful.

I find some of the images too literal interpretation. The house, barn and road seem distracting to me. The author is alone in the cold woods; away from civilization. But the buildings jar me away from that beautiful, solitary emotion. I find the image of the horse distracting too. I imagine him next to me when he "gives his harness bells a shake", yet this is a distant horse and feels like a stranger, not mine. I find myself wondering where my horse has gone or if my horse has wandered off.

I just felt a need to share my feelings about this beautiful poem. I don't mean to be critical of your work. I appreciate your contribution - I just love this poem and I wish I could connect a little bit more to your work.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them even where I strongly disagree with them.

It's photography, after all, not abstract expressionist painting.

They're images one might see that evoke the poem, or vice versa. They're not meant to be a literal depiction of the poem, but neither are they meant to be so abstract as to be completely unconnected to the poem.

The purpose of illustration—which these photographs are—is evocation and depiction. I see your point about some of the building images; at the same time, what do you want? Just fields of blank white snow, or image after image of trees? LOL

Trust me, I have seen several different versions of illustrations of this poem, and this set of illustrations is not the most literal I've seen, by far. There are at least two children's books, for example, that are much more literal in their illustrations. Inn one case, to the point of the book being overly sentimental in a way that I doubt Frost would have approved.

In any case, I strongly encourage any artist who doesn't like any set of illustrations they encounter to go off and make their own. And then share them with us all. There are multiple versions available in part because we all have slightly different taste.

Which is as it should be, I believe.

2:03 PM  

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