March 8, 2015
Word Count: 2049 Poetry Paper In life we all have to make decisions and choices and sometimes the ones we make we later regret. In “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost the speaker comes to a fork on the road in the middle of the woods and is unsure about what road to take. In “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” the speaker ends up in a similar situation where he must choose to stay in the woods and enjoy the beauty of his surroundings or leave and fulfill his obligations. Decision-making is the central importance to “The Road Not Taken” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”. Robert Lee Frost is a widely recognized American poet born on March 26, 1874 in San Francisco, California (Burnshaw). His works in poetry earned him the Pulitzer Prize a record of four times and was once even asked to recite a poem at the presidential inauguration of John F. Kennedy (Burnshaw). His father William Frost Jr. was a former teacher who turned into a newspaperman, a hard drinker, and a gambler (Burnshaw). His mother Isabelle Moodie, who was also a teacher, taught in Salem, New Hampshire (Burnshaw). She introduced Shakespeare, Bible stories, and myths to a young Robert Frost who eventually began memorizing poetry and started reading books on his own at a young age (Burnshaw). For the first forty years of his life he was unrecognized for his poetry and it wasn’t until he returned from England in 1914 that he was hailed as a leading voice of the “new poetry” movement (Burnshaw). Frost passed away in the early hours of January 29, 1963 (Burnshaw). One of Frost’s best-known poems “The Road Not Taken” was published in the August 1915 issue of the Atlantic Monthly (Fagan 293). In this poem the narrator is confronted with two paths in an autumn yellow forest. He can’t take both roads so he looks down one road as far as he can to where it “ben[ds] in the undergrowth,” (5) hoping he can make his mind up . He decides to take “the other” road which he describes as being just as “fair” as the other. Both roads have an equal amount of leaves that weren’t stepped or trodden on that morning .The traveler tells himself that he will keep one road for another day but then quickly doubts if he’ll ever come back. He goes on to say that one day in the future he will recall of this experience with a sigh. At the end of the poem he says that he took the road less traveled by and that it “has made all the difference”(20). This poem consists of four stanzas with five lines each and a rhyme scheme of ABAAB. The lines in this poem are written in iambic tetrameter because of the four stressed syllables per line. One of the major and only themes you find in this poem is about making choices and how you weigh them in order to make a decision. The poem centers on the concept of choice. We know that the speaker is on a path and is confronted by two diverging roads and he has to decide which way to go. The choice confronting the speaker can be symbolized as all of life’s choices and how life is filled with decisions (Brown 12). Sometimes no matter what choice you pick you’ll find yourself regretting that decision and wish you’d picked the other instead. Frost had said to his friend Edward Thomas after “one of their best flower-gathering walks” that “No matter which road you take, you’ll always sigh, and wish you’d taken another” (Fargan 293). The word “sigh” that he decides to use in one of the final lines of the poem to express his possible regret of taking the road he chose can be open for interpretation. A sigh can be happy, sad, or even reflective and we don’t know how he decides to use it in the poem, it leaves the reader wondering (Shmoop Editorial Team). Next we want to look at the different perspectives and how others may view this poem. Some may see that the focus point of this poem is on the actual roads, but the real focus of this poem is in how the traveler views the roads (Fagan 294).