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Poetry Project

analysis of "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost

Karla Oseguera

on 31 May 2013

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Transcript of Poetry Project

The central image of the poem is that of a fork in the road as the speaker tries to make up his mind about which direction to take. However, the poem also includes imagery of nature and of traveling in lines such as:
"Because it was grassy and wanted wear"
"In leaves no step had trodden black"
"And sorry I could not travel both, and be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could"
"I took the one less traveled by"

Robert Frost gives the illusion of the two paths calling to him throughout the poem as he attempts to come to a decision about which road to take through personifying the two paths as he says that the path "was grassy and wanted wear". The Road Not Taken by: Robert Frost Upbringing His Beginnings The Author Robert Frost was born in San Francisco on March 26, 1874
Moved to New England when he was 11 and became interested in writing poetry during his high school years in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
He enrolled at Dartmouth College in 1892, and later at Harvard
Frost never earned a formal degree. After leaving school, Frost had a rough start and took on various occupations. He worked as a teacher, cobbler, and editor of the Lawrence Sentinel.
It wasn't until November 8, 1894 that his first professional poem, "My Butterfly," was published in the New York newspaper The Independent. Frost's Poetry The Poem Imagery and Personification Symbolism and Allegory Word Choice Irony Form and Structure The most obvious symbol in "The Road Not Taken" is the road itself. While it could be taken literally, as a place where the road splits, and a person must decide which road to take, it could also be taken as a life choice between two alternate ways of life. The reader only realizes that the roads are meant to be taken symbolically at the end of the poem where it says, "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"
Robert Frost's poem is allegorical in that while it describes a simple decision between paths in the woods, the poem is actually refering to a life altering decision. Robert Frost employs simple, straightforward, yet highly connotative diction in "The Road Not Taken."

Words such as "diverged" hae connotatie significance in that it refers to a place where a decision must be made

"Undergrowth" sugests that the consequences that will follow the decision made are covered or unknown

Frost continually uses the words "travel/traveler/traveled" to describe the feeling of curiousity that comes with weighing two decisions, and to describe the feeling of a person who wishes to reach a destination but is currently lost or nsure of the path that will lead to the desired outcome 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. The tone does not remain constant for the entirety of the poem, but instead changes throughout it.
It begins as a positive and curious tone as the speaker says "And sorry I could not travel both", exhibiting that at this point his only regret is that he cannot explore both paths
The tone then becomes irresolute and analytical as the speaker observes both paths in an effort to decide which path to take.
Finally the tone becomes anticipative of remorse as it says, "I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence," as the speaker sees himself regretting the decision made.
Some of the themes present are:
All people come to a place in their lives where they must make a difficult decision.
Not all choices are between good and bad, "both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black"
We all second guess our decisions, "I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence" Interpretations Tone and Theme "The Road Not Taken" exhibits dramatic irony in that the reader expects the speaker to be content with his decision of taking the path less traveled by, but instead he exhibits regret toward the decision made
Frost uses phrases such as "took the path less traveled by," and "that made all the difference" ironically. While both phrases would normally be seen in a positive light, Frost is actually using them to show his regret. Frost was known to write very formal poetry and "The Road Not Taken" was not the exception.
The poem is metric, following the same pattern throughout its entirety.
Written in stanzaic form and consists mostly of run on lines
Chronological order in stanzas
The first stanza gives initial description of the situation, as well as the reference to one of the choices, or roads
The second stanza describes the second road, as well as the fact that the two roads are basically the same.
The third stanza lets the reader be aware of the speaker's fear of regret, and the doubt the author feels with making these decisions.
The fourth stanza gives the final outcome; and exhibits regret towards the decision made. The poem is often interpreted as an uplifting encouragement to take the path of life that seems more difficult, "I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."
Some believe this poem advocates for nonconformity, and makes a statement about independence and individuality, "Two roads diverged in a wood and I—I took the one less traveled by"
However the poem actually discusses regret and missed opportunities as is shown by the fact that the author says, "Though as for that, the passing there, Had worn them really about the same" indicating that there was no apparent difference between the two paths, and the line, "I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence" clearly exhibits regret, not pride regarding the decision that was taken, thus the title "The Road Not Taken" Frost was greatly inspired by his wife Elinor Miriam White, whom he married in 1895.

Also influenced by poets Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves, and Ezra Pound.

By the nineteen-twenties, he was the most celebrated poet in America.

His work is largely associated with the life and landscape of New England, butbhe is also known to have been an author of searching and often dark meditations on universal themes, and is vastly known for the degree to which his work is infused with layers of ambiguity and irony.
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