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Sunday, November 29, 2015

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN BY ROBERT FROST: SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS

Robert Frost: Poems Summary and Analysis of "The Road Not Taken" (1916)
The narrator comes upon a fork in the road while walking through a yellow wood. He considers both paths and concludes that each one is equally well-traveled and appealing. After choosing one of the roads, the narrator tells himself that he will come back to this fork one day in order to try the other road. However, he realizes that it is unlikely that he will ever have the opportunity to come back to this specific point in time because his choice of path will simply lead to other forks in the road (and other decisions). The narrator ends on a nostalgic note, wondering how different things would have been had he chosen the other path.
Analysis
This poem is made up of four stanzas of five lines, each with a rhyme scheme of ABAAB. Along with “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” this poem is one of Frost’s most beloved works and is frequently studied in high school literature classes. Since its publication, many readers have analyzed the poem as a nostalgic commentary on life choices. The narrator decided to seize the day and express himself as an individual by choosing the road that was “less traveled by.” As a result of this decision, the narrator claims, his life was fundamentally different that it would have been had he chosen the more well-traveled path.
This reading of the poem is extremely popular because every reader can empathize with the narrator’s decision: having to choose between two paths without having any knowledge of where each road will lead. Moreover, the narrator’s decision to choose the “less traveled” path demonstrates his courage. Rather than taking the safe path that others have traveled, the narrator prefers to make his own way in the world.
However, when we look closer at the text of the poem, it becomes clear that such an idealistic analysis is largely inaccurate. The narrator only distinguishes the paths from one another after he has already selected one and traveled many years through life. When he first comes upon the fork in the road, the paths are described as being fundamentally identical. In terms of beauty, both paths are equally “fair,” and the overall “…passing there / Had worn them really about the same.”
It is only as an old man that the narrator looks back on his life and decides to place such importance on this particular decision in his life. During the first three stanzas, the narrator shows no sense of remorse for his decision nor any acknowledgement that such a decision might be important to his life. Yet, as an old man, the narrator attempts to give a sense of order to his past and perhaps explain why certain things happened to him. Of course, the excuse that he took the road “less traveled by” is false, but the narrator still clings to this decision as a defining moment of his life, not only because of the path that he chose but because he had to make a choice in the first place.
 The Road not Taken by Robert Frost: Summary and Analysis
Here is a summary and analysis of ‘The Road not Taken’ by Robert Frost, the celebrated poem on making choices in life.
Robert Frost’s The Road not Taken is a beautiful poem about making choices in life. It discusses the very common situation of coming to the crossroads and not knowing which way to choose. Like all Frost poems it begins in delight and ends in wisdom.
One morning the poet came to a junction where two roads diverged in a yellow wood. He stood for a long time there, wondering which way to choose. He was sorry that he could not travel both roads. After considering the prospects of both roads, he took the second one because it was grassy and less travelled by. He kept the first road for another day. But he doubted if he should ever come back because one way leads to another way.
The poem ends quite dramatically when the poet hopes that later in his life he will be able to say with a sigh of relief that choosing the road less traveled by has made all the difference in his life. (Or, is it a sigh of dismay? The reader is left to guess for himself.)
Analysis of The Road not Taken: On the surface the poem is autobiographical, showing Frost’s bold choice to become a poet. He had tried his hands at many things and it was later in his life that he achieved success as a poet. But it is also philosophical, showing the great human dilemma in making a choice, especially when it is the road less traveled by. But many of the critics are of the opinion that Frost wrote the poem to make fun of a friend who would always procrastinate at the crossroads.

Traditional Elements in a Modernist Poem

There are several things in this poem that are usually seen in traditional, not modernist, poetry. First of all, you probably noticed that the poem rhymes. In fact, it follows a traditional rhyme pattern. What do I mean by that? Well, you'll notice that in each stanza there are five lines. The first, third and fourth lines rhyme with each other, and the second and fifth lines rhyme with each other. This type of rhyme pattern is usually summed up as 'ABAAB.' The 'A's represent the lines that rhyme with each other; likewise, the two lines that are labeled 'B' rhyme with each other.
Besides rhyme, the poem has a traditional meter, or rhythm. Each line has a specific number of syllables, and certain syllables are stressed when they are read. Meter is something that Frost liked to use a lot, even when he didn't use rhyme.
This poem follows a traditional, not a modernist rhyme pattern.
A third, and very important, element in this poem that is not normally seen in modernist poetry is its use of natural imagery. The poem is about someone alone in the woods, and all the descriptions are of nature. Though most modernist poets did not spend a lot of time describing nature, Frost lived in a rural setting, and most of his poems focused on nature.

Contradiction and Interpretation in the Poem

So with all those elements of traditional poetry, what makes this poem modern? Well, for one thing, the language is very basic. But the most important modernist elements of this poem have to do with the poem's meaning: there are a lot of things that aren't clear in the poem, and the mood of the poem is not necessarily uplifting. First, let's look at the way Frost makes the poem unclear. In the second stanza, he describes one of the paths as 'grassy and wanted wear.' In other words, fewer people had gone down that path than the other path.
But almost immediately, he contradicts himself: the next lines say that the two paths were worn 'really about the same.' And at the beginning of the next stanza, he says that both paths 'equally lay/In leaves no step had trodden black.' So not only were both paths free of the footsteps of people, they were both covered in leaves, despite the fact that he had just described one of them as grassy. And the story changes again in the famous last words of the poem:
'The Road Not Taken' by Robert Frost is a well-known poem about the journey of life. This lesson will cover a brief summary of the poem, analyze its major theme, and test your knowledge with a quick quiz.

Poem Summary

Have you ever found yourself caught between a rock and a hard place, trying to make a difficult decision? Maybe you've had to choose between two equally desirable things, like following a career path to become an astronaut or a doctor. You may have considered the different paths of study or activity each choice would lead you down. We've all been faced with challenging decisions in our lives, and sometimes the difficulty of making those decisions arises from the fear of not knowing if what we choose is right, or what will happen as a result of our choice.
Well, the famous American poet, Robert Frost, once wrote a poem that describes this feeling exactly. 'The Road Not Taken', first published in 1916, is perhaps Frost's most famous poem. The final lines in particular, 'Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference', are often quoted and referred to as inspirational words that challenge us to overcome obstacles in life.
The poem describes someone standing at a fork, or turning point, in a road in the woods, trying to decide which path he's going to take. He looks down one road as far as he can see, and after thinking for another minute, decides to take the other one because it looks like nobody's been that way yet, and he's curious about where it leads.
He thinks maybe he might come back another day and try out the other path but has a feeling that the road he's chosen will lead him to new places and discoveries, and he probably won't be back. He thinks wistfully about that road, the road not taken, and where he might have wound up if he'd gone that way instead. Part of him regrets his decision, but he also realizes that the things he's seen and the places he's gone because of the direction he chose has made him who he is.

The Poem's Theme

'The Road Not Taken' is more than a poem about someone trying to decide which road he's going to take on a stroll through the woods. It's actually a poem about the journey of life. The two roads diverged in a yellow wood symbolize a person's life. The narrator's choice about which road to take represents the different decisions we sometimes have to make and how those decisions will affect the future. Think of the expression, 'down the road', that we often use to describe something that might happen months or even years from now, and you'll see how Frost is making the connection between life and traveling.
Frost captures the uncertainty about making decisions and our natural desire to know what will happen as a result of the decisions we make in the first stanza of the poem:
'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'
Here, Frost uses the bend in the road as a metaphor for what the narrator wishes he could see but ultimately can't make out in the undergrowth. The narrator eventually decides to take the other road because it really doesn't matter; whichever path he chooses, he has no way of knowing where he's going to end up.
The only difference between the two roads is that the one the narrator chooses in the second stanza is 'grassy and wanted wear'; in other words, it doesn't look like anyone's taken it before or in a long time. At this point in the poem, Frost tries to encourage readers to overcome the fear of the unknown: someone has to be the first person to try a new thing. Just think about what has happened when men and women have boldly gone where no men and women have gone before.




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