I found this very useful, i hope someone else does too.
The poem describes the act of making choices within one’s life is solely responsible for the outcomes one produces. Frost speaks of the decisions one encounters as they journey through life and how at several points, one would come to a “fork” where the individual would have to decide which road (or decision) is best for them. At such points, Frost goes further to describe how one would contemplate whether or not the individual would like to take the road that has been traveled more or embark upon their own path. Because life is full of forks and divisions, it is not possible that one can choose one way and decide to turn back for the other. In essence that a life-changing decision is “life-changing,” it is all the same impossible to turn back and take the other road.
“The Road Not Taken” possesses a solemn tone.
The poem speaks very much about the decisions one must make should they continue through their life. Frost explains how “two roads diverged in a yellow wood,” and the speaker “taking the other” after “long [he] stood” has “made all the difference.” He acknowledges that the choices he has made and will make will greatly affect his future; therefore it is not a matter to be taken lightly, thus explaining his solemnity in the matter. The speaker realizes that both roads were “equally laying” “just as fair,” which makes them “really about the same.” The fact that there was not a significant difference between the two roads makes it difficult for the speaker to choose which road he would like to take. He understands that the choice is critical and does not treat life like a game, to be jokingly selected. He therefore “looked down as far as [he] could to where it bent in the undergrowth” to figuratively examine how one decision would affect his life. It is reasonable how the speaker would adopt such a solemnity while making such a decision as he would hope to make the best decision and not have any regrets. In the way that a fork in a road symbolizes a decision and a journey symbolizes a quest, the speaker is seeking to continue his life and gain self-knowledge. To the speaker, his pursuit is important, and that supports his taking on of a solemn tone.
Though it is elaborate, the poem’s diction contributes to highly reflective imagery. The act of speaking in past tense for the majority of the poems develops the symbol of passing time. Frost also selects several words such as “yellow wood,” “long,” “just as fair,” “sigh[ing],” “ages and ages” portray that the speaker has been on the earth for quite a bit of time. A “yellow wood” symbolizes autumn: a time when trees loose their leaves, and life gets ready to die away for winter. It is typically accepted that autumn is a time of aging, and one is approaching winter: the time of death. With both the roads having been worn so much that they were “just as fair,” it must have taken rather some time for both to be worn to the same level. Frost goes further to explain how each road was like the other in the morning. “Morning,” when looked upon literally would define a new day, and from that one would connect figuratively that morning signifies a new beginning and thus a passing of time. As time passes, one would grow tired, hence the “sigh.” In the final verse, the speaker refers to the future where he “shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence.” This is after many years of careful contemplation.
The whole idea of passing time demonstrates how the decision-making process goes on for one’s entire life. The “two roads diverging” is just one out of many decisions to be made. On one particular road, however, there was a “bent in the undergrowth.” Figuratively speaking, a bend in a road is an obstacle, and in this case, it was an obstacle in one of the choices in the speaker’s life. When one works around an obstacle, it adds to length; this being a length in time. In many ways, them poem has a time motif, where life is a long and intricate situation to go through. By stating how the roads were “grassy and wanted wear,” the speaker is embarking on a new journey. This embarking is just another decision the speaker must make that will inevitably decide for the outcome of his life. Because none of the leaves on the roads were “trodden black,” he is not taking the road others have taken, but making the way for his own life and being the first to make such a decision. The speaker also knows that “way leads onto way,” so even though the speaker has made a decision to travel one road, the decision-making is continuous, and life does not stop for him to retrace his steps and try the other road. The particular choice he made, however, has made “all the difference,” and that signifies that his contemplation has proven him a dramatic change in his life.
The poem’s language is simple, but the complex syntax connects the punctuation and words to the thesis. Robert Frost wrote this poem in a few different combinations of tertrameter which employs a simple rhyme scheme and the varied effects of these schemes. By writing in such a fashion with the entire poem composed of four sentences, he is able to equate the feeling of many years passing by to the length of the sentences. These sentences are characterized by compound, complex. The very idea of compound and complex sentences is that they are long and elaborate, similar to that of the continuous life-altering decisions made every day. In addition to drawing out the ways how “way leads on to way,” Robert Frosts also inserts punctuation in several places.
Punctuation itself, especially in poetry, can signify a range of things: a period meaning an end of a thought, a comma showing a pausing moment, a semicolon to connect ideas, and a dash to show large contrast. Acknowledging that, Frost tends to place the commas where he is describing the two roads. The commas, like the words making up the compound and complex sentences, force the audience to read his poem with the intended pauses, obviously to indicate the idea that decision-making is not a quick and easy task to do. The semicolons are also used similarly with the commas; however, they provide a contrast of images as well as the lengthening of the sentence, such as that of the road with the “bent in the undergrowth,” and the other that “was grassy and wanted wear.” It is through these commas and semicolons that Robert Frost extended what would be a simpler sentence into a little more than two full stanzas.
There is the one colon and dash where it has “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 colon specifies the change between the past and the future when the speaker tells of his past decision and how it will affect him versus the future when he will be looking back at his past and how that has affected him. The dash signifies a pause and provided for the repetition of “I.” The repetition carries a hint of pride and pomposity. Though it may not be a likable quality, the speaker is also stating at the same time that because he decided for himself without the influee of others and embarked upon his own journey, he has emerged successful and “made all the difference.” The fact that his decision was the better one sentimentalizes this particular time and will allow him to go on and make the better choices in his future when he meets up on another road. That is crucial to understanding the concept of “The Road Not Taken.”
Recognizing the value of “The Road Not Taken” can be a difficult thought to let go. Many would always have the urge to head back and travel down the other road instead just to experience what may happen. However, Robert Frost wants readers to realize and accept that life is too full of decisions to retrace every single diversion. He wants readers to be content with the road they have taken and not doubt the other road not taken may be better. To travel every diversion in a road would take more than a lifetime to accomplish, and as long as one is still alive, there will forever be diversions in the roads they take. 13th June 2008 From India, Madras
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