The text of this familiar poem is set to an uncharacteristically brisk tempo. The premise behind this is to catch the feel of a horse constantly traveling through the woods. Even though it is written in 6/8 time throughout, the rhythm of the piece suggests a constant change from a 6/8 to a 3/4 feel, as a wooded path is rarely stable. It is imperative to feel the differences between the two rhythmic feels when they occur. At times the two different feels appear simultaneously. When this occurs, it is does so when the text suggests moments of insecurities and doubt. At measure 95, the accents are an integral part of the feel of the text. It suggests an uneasy feel of the horse and it also plays on the word “mistake” since all of the accents are not placed on the strong beat of these “3/4” measures. These measures should definitely be conducted in 3. The soprano C6 at the end in optional depending on the capabilities and comfort level of the ensemble performing the piece.
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.
–Robert Frost, 1923