Life’s Right Turns on the Wrong Roads; Robert Frost and "The Road Not Taken"

The skill to sustain a metaphor requires the crafting of words and complete control and command of a poem. Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” shows how Frost has the ability to say one thing and mean another making him one of America’s leading twentieth century poets and four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Robert Frost, through “The Road Not Taken”, will examine to decipher and interpret the nature’s message in regards to life’s choices. Frost uses such a natural setting that revels the symbolic significance of two roads almost life-like, helping the reader visualize the different paths one may or not take in life. The reader is drawn in such a way, actually feeling like he or she is at the cross roads looking down the two paths. With great skill and craftiness possessed only by a poet, Frost is able to write one thing and mean another with brilliant beauty leaving the reader in a totally different world. Beginning with the physical structure of “The Road Not Taken,” it is clear that Frost is attempting to relay a sense of structure that is often associated with rational decision-making. Once again Frost utilizes structure an underlying technique to capture the theme of the poem. It is undeniably true that Frost employs a number of techniques in “The Road Not Taken” to create such a subtle metaphor. In essence this poetic study will examine the symbolic choices offered by life in nature, but also within the choices made in regards to what path may best suit one’s own spiritual progress. In “The Road Not Taken,” one can see two paths that appear before Frost as he travels in the woods.

Robert Lee Frost, (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963) was an American Poet born in San Francisco, CA to a journalist father, William Prescott Frost Jr. and mother Isabelle Moodie. Despite Frost’s association with rural, rugged city life he graduated from “Lawrence high School in 1892 and published his first poem in his high school magazine.” (Wikipedia Contributor) Frost attended Dartmouth College then returned home to teach and work at St. Lawrence University. Having met a young lady, Elinor, at St. Lawrence and later marrying her while at Dartmouth where he also attended for liberal arts studies for two years. (Wikepedia) Though he did well at Harvard, he left to support his growing family and work on his grandfather’s farm. These times are but a few that caused him to produce many poems that he would later become famous and start a career in his passion, poetry. Frost never graduated from college but received many honorary degrees from Harvard to Cambridge Universities.

During his lifetime, “Robert Frost Middle School in Fairfax, VA and the main library of Amherst college were named after him” (Wikepedia). Frost being well renowned for his artistic passion for poetic writings he was honored at the age of eighty-six to perform a reading of his poetry at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy. His poetry is thus traditional, experimental, regional and historical.
By far it is a great skill of poets to be able to write one thing and mean a totally different thing with elegance, beauty and clarity. Frost is a remarkable example of a poet’s ability to employ a metaphor.

Though one may argue the metaphor of Frost’s “The Road” is rather easily grasped, but the beauty in which it is mastered is exceptionally exquisite. “The theme of ‘The Road Not Taken’ is one of reflection and this is conveyed through poetic structure and imagery as Frost looks back over his life and is contemplating the choices that he has made. He refers to the road that he has chosen as the “one less traveled by” and it has made all the difference.” (Schakel). One thing Frost subjects to is the choice he is faced with, two roads, two ideas and two possibilities of action. His poem deals with the choice between two roads and the results of the choice. It raises the evident question of whether it is better to choose a road in which many traveled or to choose the road less traveled and explore it himself.

In the first stanza, Frost says, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” which is seemingly highly important. This line is a metaphor where Frost uses woods to represent life (Frost). Using this image helps the reader have a better understanding of the complexity of the problem with which he is faced. If someone was standing at the edge of the woods, (life) they might not be able to clearly see what was ahead of them because trees and branches and the path laden with leaves would obstruct the woods. Here he is at the foot of the woods and uncertain. Evidently he does not want to choose the wrong road and mess up his life. He is ‘scared’ to choose a path. This decision made will determine the outcome of his life. Once making this decision, he will be devoted to the road he chose and probably never be able to turn back.
In the third stanza, he says, “both roads lay in leaves that no one had trampled down” (Frost). In other words, both roads are in about the same condition and what he does right there, with this choice, makes all the difference. Neither had been really worn down by traffic, but one a little more than the other. In verse eight, “because it was grassy and wanted wear” this shows that he does not want to be like everybody else, a follower. Instead he chose a different road and to be an individual, be himself, a leader. This is appealing because this road and this choice will make a great impact and significance in his life.

This poem supplies the reader with a situation that each and every person has to face at least one in their life. One path may look just as hard, just as long and just as confusing as the next. With every step in life you must analyze the road and path ahead even if it looks confusing and frightening.
Life is like those woods. No one can clearly visualize or predict what will happen in the future, only hope to choose a path that might lead to good fortune and happiness. This poem supplies you as the reader with a situation, a problem, a choice that each person has to face at least once in life. That situation being that everyone has to come face to face and struggle to put their life on the right road. These two choices may not be right or wrong. So forge ahead through the dense overgrowth of the world on the path and desire to be different, a leader and free from commonality. Choose the path carefully, walk softly so that you take life’s right turns, not on the wrong roads.

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