Essays On The Poem The Road Not Taken

Four stanzas, each of five lines in length (a quintrain), with a mix of iambic and anapaestic tetrameter, producing a steady rhythmical four beat first person narrative. Most common speech is a combination of iambs and anapaests, so Frost chose his lines to reflect this:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

This simple looking poem, mostly monosyllabic, has a traditional rhyme scheme of abaab which helps keep the lines tight together, whilst the use of enjambment (where one line runs into the next with no punctuation) keeps the sense flowing.

The whole poem is an extended metaphor; the road is life, and it diverges, that is, splits apart, forks. There is a decision to be made and a life will be changed. Perhaps forever.

Tone/Atmosphere

Whilst this is a reflective, thoughtful poem, it's as if the speaker is caught in two minds. He's encountered a turning point. The situation is clear enough - take one path or the other, black or white - go ahead, do it. But life is rarely that simple. We're human, and our thinking processes are always on the go, trying to work things out. You take the high road, I'll take the low road. Which is best?

So the tone is meditative. As this person stands looking at the two options, he is weighing up the pros and cons in a quiet, studied manner. The situation demands a serious approach, for who knows what the outcome will be?

All the speaker knows is that he prefers the road less travelled, perhaps because he enjoys solitude and believes that to be important. Or he's an individualist and prefers to set his own agenda. Whatever the reason, once committed, he'll more than likely never look back?

On reflection however, taking the road because it was grassy and wanted wear has made all the difference, all the difference in the worldi

Bloom, Harold, ed. Robert Frost. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2003.

Burnshaw, Stanley. Robert Frost Himself. New York: George Braziller, 1986.

Faggen, Robert. Robert Frost and the Challenge of Darwin. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997.

Galbraith, Astrid. New England as Poetic Landscape: Henry David Thoreau and Robert Frost. New York: Peter Lang, 2003.

Gerber, Philip L. Robert Frost. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne, 1982.

Lathem, Edward Connery. Robert Frost: A Biography. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981.

Meyers, Jeffrey. Robert Frost: A Biography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.

Poirier, Richard. Robert Frost: The Work of Knowing. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Potter, James L. The Robert Frost Handbook. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1980.

Pritchard, William H. Frost: A Literary Life Reconsidered. New York: Oxford University Press, 1984.

Thompson, Lawrance Roger, and R. H. Winnick. Robert Frost: A Biography. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1982.

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