Resounding Verse

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening: Robert Frost and Margaret Bonds

July 01, 2021 Stephen Rodgers Season 1 Episode 5
Resounding Verse
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening: Robert Frost and Margaret Bonds
Show Notes

Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” is one of the most famous poems in the English language, and it has been set to music by many composers. This episode explores an extraordinarily inventive setting by the Black American composer Margaret Bonds (1913–1972), recently recorded by bass-baritone Justin Hopkins and pianist Jeanne-Minette Cilliers.

This recording comes from a playlist created by Hopkins and Cilliers, which includes performances of music by Florence Price and Margaret Bonds.

To access a published score to the song, see Louise Toppin's anthology Rediscovering Margaret Bonds: Art Songs, Spirituals, Musical Theater and Popular Songs. Toppin, a professor of voice at University of Michigan who has been a longtime advocate for Bonds's music and the music of other African American composers, has also done a wonderful video recording of the song. See also the list of Bonds works published by Hildegard Publishing Company.

Learn more about Bonds's songs, access her song scores, and hear another performance by Hopkins and Ciliers on Art Song Augmented, my website devoted to art songs by underrepresented composers.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

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 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 is 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.