by Robert Frost
Snow falling and night falling fast, oh, fast
In a field I looked into going past,
And the ground almost covered smooth in snow,
But a few weeds and stubble showing last.
The woods around it have it – it is theirs.
All animals are smothered in their lairs.
I am too absent-spirited to count;
The loneliness includes me unawares.
And lonely as it is, that loneliness
Will be more lonely ere it will be less –
A blanker whiteness of benighted snow
With no expression, nothing to express.
They cannot scare me with their empty spaces
Between stars – on stars where no human race is.
I have it in me so much nearer home
To scare myself with my own desert places.
I ran across Frost’s poem this week referenced in Shannon Hale’s slightly plot-crazy but ultimately fun novel DANGEROUS. This poem isn’t taught as much in high schools, but to me is the PERFECT companion piece to “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The language of that poem invites the reader into a place of solitude and thoughtfulness, in the empty landscape filling with snow; this poem presents a claustrophobic terror of the featurelessness of the white wasteland — benighted snow with blank expressions and nothing to express is a kind of horror. One poem is somnolent, with its indolent inertia, the other is on the edge of sleep, but jerking awake, and having night terrors. I love the contrast, how both parts are of what humanity is made.