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 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 the season of autumn, the traveller is walking down the woods and is faced with a choice between two paths.
Every aspect of both paths were 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 was 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 the traveller tread on a path which very few have treaded on. This can be inferred from ‘…and wanted wear’, this illustrates that the road was less travelled by and needed someone to trod on it. 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 is regretting his decision. He believes his choice has changed his life for the worse and regrets about what he missed, what the second choice held for me? Where would I have been? Secondly, it can be said that the traveller is appreciating his decision and portraying how his choice has changed his life for the better. The hyphen after ‘I’ causes a break in the flow of the poem, to stress upon the importance of the choices made in life. Each choice in life is important. It can be said that the poem is a recollection of choices made by Frost is 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 end result until one makes it. We like many things in life, but at a point in time we need to forgo one.
‘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 an insatiable 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 life. If they changed our life for the bad we ‘sigh’ about them and if for the better we appreciate them. 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 3 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 visual imagery can be seen in ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood’, 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 one’s choice is influenced by external factors. How a particular aspect pulls you towards it. The diction of the poem is fairly simple and vivid, thereby resulting in better understanding of the poem. The tone of the poem is melancholic as the poet is lamenting about the things that one has to forgo. This can be said as the poet makes use of 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 about 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 on the aspect that we need to make choice after choice. It’s not that we make one choice and that’s the end of it all. One makes a choice and thereafter 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 as well, 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.