Thursday, 3 October 2013


About The Poet

 Robert Frost – Robert Lee   Frost

·         Born – March 26, 1874, so, Francisco, California, USA.

·         Died – January, 29, 1963 , Boston , USA.

·         Notable writings-

·         Poems – “After Apple- picking,” “Dedication, “Hannibal”,”Mending Wall” etc.

·         Plays- “A masque of Reason” “A way out” etc.

·         Won Pulitzer Prize in the years of 1924, 1931, 1937 and 1943.

                  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;

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.

About The Poem

The poem “The road not taken” was published in 1916 in the collection “Mountain Interval”. It is a narrative poem consisting 4 stanzas of Iambic tetrameter. The poem is inspirational, a paean to individualism and non conformism.

The poem talks about making personal choices and rationalizing our decisions with pride or with regret.

Background of the poem

 According to Frost, the poem is intended as a gentle jab at his great friend and fellow poet Edward Thomas. With whom he used to take walks through the forest. (Thomas always complained at the end that they should have taken a different path)

Some Important Explanations

“Yellow wood”The word ‘yellow’ is suggestive of autumn season when the leaves on trees turn yellow.

“Two roads” – The roads are almost identical. And the identical forks symbolize for us the nexus of free will and fate. We are free to choose, but we do not know beforehand what we are choosing between.

I doubted if I should ever come back. – Since one way gives way to the other, it is almost impossible to retreat from the track once chosen. One hardly has any option to move back from the path that one chooses. This is what the speaker means to say, and the idea is entirely metaphorical in the sense that in life also we hardly have any option to retreat, once we are already in certain track, whatever it may be.

“And that has made all the difference” – The traveller picks the road “less travelled by”. Only future can tell whether he was wise to go on the road he once chose. Metaphorically the choice of the road will bring change in life. If we follow the path that hardly suits us, we are inevitable to suffer. Conversely if we can choose the right track of life we are inevitable to prosper in life. This is what makes “The difference” after all. The poem like most of Frost’s poems thus ends in wisdom. Once again ascertaining Frost’s vision that a poem begins in delight and ends in wisdom.

Structure of the Poem

·         “The road not taken”, written by Robert Frost, is a poem that has four five line stanzas.
·           The rhyme scheme of the poem is “abaab”.
·         The poem is in Iambic Tetrameter.


“The Road Not Taken” is enriched with extensive use of literary terms. These are--

·        ‘Antithesis’

1.      The first stanza of the poem describes a traveler who comes to a fork is a road through a, “yellow wood” and wishes if he could “travel both”. But at the same time he realizes that the thought of travelling both roads is impractical and therefore rejects it.

2.       In the second stanza, the traveler says the other road has “perhaps” the better claim”/because it was grassy and wanted wear” implying that this road is less travelled by. And then he contradicts his own judgement saying that “though as for that the passing there/had worn them really about the same.”

3.      In the third stanza, he comes up with the idea of keeping the first road for another day, but then he expresses that probably he will never have the chance to travel the more travelled route in the future as once the path chosen is impossible to return.

·        Personification

The line “because it was grassy and wanted wear, in the third stanza, is an example of personification because the poet says that the road “wanted wear’ while we know that a road cannot think and would not have any desire at all.

·        Imagery

The poet has also used imagery as a literary device. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (From the first stanza), and “And both that morning equally lay/in leaves no step had trodden black” (from the third stanza) is used to create a picture in the reader’s mind.


·        Symbolism

1.      We find symbolism to be another one. “Yellow wood” symbolizes the autumn season.

2.       “Two roads” symbolizes different dual decisive turning points of one’s life.

3     “Another day” symbolizes next birth.
4          “Undergrowth” symbolizes the unknown world.

·         Simile-
We get the use of simile when we read the expression “as just as fair”.

·        Metaphor-
The whole poem in regard to theme unfolds the use of metaphor. The two roads of the forest are impliedly compared with the ways of human life.

·        Alliteration
 “ ages and ages “ (fourth stanza second line)

·        Enjambment-
                                              “And both that morning equally lay
                                               In leaves no step had trodden black”

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