Here be the notes from today’s lesson on Frost’s ‘Stopping by Woods’. Just a note: the responses are cumulative. (You’d need to all 3 things to get a Band 6…)
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
Band 4: In these lines, Frost appeals to us to listen closely; what can we hear? Only two things: the sound of the wind and the sound of the snow falling. The first is a more common sound – it would be impossible for us to hear the sound of snowflakes falling – precisely because they are ‘downy’, they make no sound. (You are explaining the quotation.)
Band 5: The sibilant sounds contribute to the sense of silence Frost describes here. Like the sounds of the wind and snow, they are soft. Similarly, the alliteration of the voiceless ‘only other’ lends a hollow, spacious quality to the sound. The metre creates movement across the lines; the enjambement: ‘sweep / of’ allows the iambic tetrameter to remain unbroken, building the pace towards the end of the stanza. It is almost as if the poem is brought to a sudden halt at the end: ‘flake’ suddenly stops the rhythm, abruptly. The harsh ‘k’ consonant emphasises this, and the A rhyme with ‘shake’ and ‘mistake’ lends the line a sense of closure, as if it has finally reached its destiny. (Here, you are analysing the quotation.)
Band 6: In this way, Frost creates a ‘sense of sound’ (his own phrase), whereby the sounds of the lines capture something of their content. The halting feeling at the end of this verse is precisely the feeling of ‘stopping’ in the title. The hollowness of ‘only other’ emphasises the importance of space – we must make space in our lives for contemplation. (Finally, you are evaluating the quotation.)