The poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ is written by Robert Frost. Known to be a nature poet, Frost’s poems use nature to convey universal messages. Written in the first person, the poem addresses the themes of Choice and its Regrets. We make choices throughout our lives. Some change our lives for the better, whereas some for the worse. Set during autumn, the traveller is walking down the woods and is faced with a choice between two paths.
Every aspect of both paths was identical; there was no differentiating factor. This can be inferred from phrases such as ‘just as fair,’ ‘equally lay,’ and ‘about the same.’ If there were a distinguishing factor, then one road would have become more attractive than the other. As the poem unfolds, the traveller is shown to have taken the path ‘less travelled by.’ It can be termed a courageous decision as to the traveller tread on a path that very few have trodden on. This can be inferred from ‘…and wanted wear’; this illustrates that the road was less travelled and needed someone to trod on it.
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The poem closes with the lines ‘I took the one less…difference’. This line has two connotations to it. First, it can be said that traveller regrets his decision. He believes his choice has changed his life for the worse and regrets what he missed; what the second choice held for me? Where would I have been? Secondly, it can be said that the traveller appreciates his decision and portraying how his choice has changed his life for the better. The hyphen after ‘I’ causes a break in the poem’s flow to stress the importance of the choices made in life. Each choice in life is essential.
It can be said that the poem is a recollection of choices made by Frost in his early days. A reflection of his choice of becoming a poet and how this has changed his life, i.e. ‘made all the difference’. The poem is a metaphor for ‘Life.’ The two roads represent the many choices we need to make in life. A choice has to be made, and we ponder and contemplate the positives and negatives before making one. ‘To where it bent in the undergrowth,’ we may reflect over the choices as much as we want, but one cannot determine the result until one makes it. We like many things in life, but we need to forgo one at a point in time.
‘Oh, I kept the first for another day!’, we decide upon one and think that we will take the second later in life, but this does not happen. Time does not stop; it keeps on moving, and ‘the choice not made’ has been lost forever. The exclamation mark highlights the misconception people hold and how it is impossible to move back in time. Man is a greedy being; he wants everything and anything. We are happy with the choice made but still regret the missed opportunity. Each choice opens up many doors, and together, they shape our lives. If they changed our lives for the worse, we ‘sigh’ about them and appreciate them for the better. Our choices shape our lives.
Written in 4 stanzas of 5 lines each, the poem has a systematic rhyme scheme and rhythm. The rhyme scheme for the poem is ‘ABAAB….’. The first three stanzas of the poem talks of the choices and decisions, whereas the 4th stanza portrays how long after the choices have been made, one sits and reflects upon his decisions. Imagery is abundant in the poem. The imagery makes the whole scene very picturesque and easy for the reader to comprehend and relate to. For instance, in ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,’ visual imagery can be seen here; one can envisage the scene and understand the importance of choice.
Instances can be seen throughout the poem. An example of personification can be seen in ‘Because it was grassy and wanted wear’; an inanimate object like a path cannot think or want anything. It has been personified to show how external factors influence one’s choice, how a particular aspect pulls you towards it. The poem’s diction is pretty vivid and straightforward, resulting in a better understanding of the poem. The poem’s tone is sad as the poet is lamenting about the things that one has to forgo. This can be said as the poet uses words such as ‘sigh’ and ‘sorry’.
This can also be substantiated by the title ‘The Road Not Taken.’ By such a title, it is made clear that the poet is lamenting and regretting his missed opportunity. Frost makes use of repetition in the poem. The line ‘Two roads diverged in a wood’ is repeated twice in the poem, emphasizing that we need to choose after choice. It’s not that we make one choice, and that’s the end of it all. One makes a choice, and after that, life moves on.
‘The Road Not Taken’ is similar to his poem ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.’ In both these poems, Robert Frost explores the themes of choice and decision making. In ‘The Road Not Taken,’ the traveller has to choose between the two paths, whereas in ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,’ the traveller needs to decide his priorities. There is a contrasting element between the poems; in ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,’ the traveller has no sense of regret, whereas, in this poem, the traveller does have a sense of regret. ‘The Road Not Taken’ is a poem I associate with. I have encountered similar situations and have had many difficult choices to make. One needs to make these choices and move on in life. Life is what you make of it.