The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Summary of “The Road Not Taken”
- Popularity: This poem was Written by Robert Frost and was published in 1961 as the first poem in the collection, Mountain Interval. The poem, having a perfect rhyme scheme, ‘ABAAB’ is an ambiguous poem that allows the readers to think about choices they make in life. Robert Frost wrote this poem for his friend Edward Thomas, as a joke. He considers it a very tricky poem.
- The Road Not Taken as Nostalgic Commentary on Life Choices: This poem is about life from the perspective of a young narrator who decides to seize the day, and, as an individual, chooses the road “less traveled by.” The expression of doubt runs in the poem from the first line until the last. The expression of uncertainty about choices and our natural tendency to surmise about consequences we may have to face marks the central point of the poem. However, what stays in the mind of the people is the philosophy of life and the dilemma of making choices.
- Major Themes of the Poem: The poem comprises uncertainty and perplexing situation of the minds of people about what they may face when standing on the verge of making choices. It is because life is full of choices, and the choices we make, define the whole course of our lives. Similarly, the narrator faces a situation during his travel. He finds two roads at a point where he has to choose one and must abide by his choice. He thinks he may come back one day to travel on the other road. However, he also has a feeling that his choice will confront him with new adventures and challenges. Though there is some regret over his choice, yet he realizes that the things he has encountered and the places he has visited, because of this path, have made all the difference in his life.
Analysis of Literary Devices in “The Road Not Taken”
The analysis of literary devices explains the hidden meanings of a literary text or a poem. The use of literary devices is intended to bring richness and clarity to the text with different meanings. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost is also filled with important undertones with the following literary devices.
- Metaphor: There are many metaphors in the poem like road, fork in the road and yellowwoods. The road in the poem is the metaphor of life, while the fork on the road metaphorically represents the choices we make to determine the course of our lives. Similarly, yellow woods are the metaphor of making decisions during the hard times of a person’s life. These metaphors used in this poem emphasize the importance of different decisions we make in different situations and their impacts on our lives.
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make the readers feel things through their five senses. The poet has used images of the sense of sights such as leaves, yellowwoods and These images help readers to actually perceive things they are reading. The image of the road helps readers to visualize the road providing a navigation route to the traveler.
- Simile: A simile is a device used to compare things with familiar things to let the readers know it easily. There is one simile used in the second stanza such as “as just as fair”. It shows how the poet has linked the road less taken to the easy way through life.
- Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds such as the sound of /a/ and /o/ in quick succession in “though as far that the passing” and in “Somewhere ages and ages hence.”
- Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds such as /d/ in “two roads diverging in a yellow wood” and /t/ sound in “though as far as the passing there.”
- Personification: Robert Frost has personified road in the third line of the second stanza. Here, it is stated “Because it was grassy and wanted wear” as if the road is human, and that it wants to wear and tear.
- Parallelism: Parallelism is the use of a source of words, phrases or sentences that have similar grammatical forms. Frost has used Parallelism in the poem such as;
“And sorry I could not travel both”
“And be only one traveler long I stood”
“And looked down once as far as I could”
Concluding the literary analysis, it can be argued that Robert Frost has beautifully used various literary devices to make the poem display multiplicity of interpretation which has gained the poem much deserved popularity.
Analysis of Poetic Devices in “The Road Not Taken”
Although most of the poetic devices are part of literary devices, some devices are only used in poems. The analysis of some of the major poetic devices used in this poem is given here.
- Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of a fixed number of lines. In this poem, there are four stanzas with each stanza having five verses or lines.
- Quintain: A quintain is a five-lined stanza borrowed from Medieval French Poetry. Here, each stanza is a quintain such as the first one or the second one.
- Rhyme Scheme: The whole poem follows ABAAB rhyme scheme. There are four beats per line, employing iambic tetrameter. The rhymes in “The Road Not Taken” are end rhymes which are also perfect rhymes.
- Trochee: Trochee means there is a one stressed and one unstressed syllable in a line such as “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.”
- Anapests: Anapests means there are two short or unstressed syllables followed by one long or stressed syllable. The above example is also an anapest.
This analysis shows that this poem, though, seems a simple and innocent composition, points to the reality of making decisions in complex situations. The point to remember is that the road has been emphasized in that it is the choice that makes the road important for us. In other words, our preferences in life make us different from others.
Quotations for Usage from “The Road Not Taken”
1. The two lines given below can be quoted during a speech when remembering a hard time of one’s life.
“I shall be telling this with a sigh / somewhere ages and ages hence.”
2. These two lines could be used when delivering lectures or speeches about decision-making choices in life such as:
“I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”