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The Road Not Taken: Critical Analysis Of Poetry

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Robert Frost born on March 26, 1874 was an American poet and winner of 4 Pulitzer Prizes. Famous works include “Fire and Ice,” “Mending Wall,” “Birches,” “Out Out,” “Nothing Gold Can Stay” and “Home Burial” but arguably his most famous is 'The Road Not Taken,' which is often read at graduation ceremonies, as the poem is written about life choices. As a young boy Robert lived in San Francisco, California but due to the passing of his journalist father William Prescott Frost, Frost moved with his mother and sister, Jeanie, to the town of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Frost’s education started at Laurence High School where he excelled in writing. After high school he attended Dartmouth College for several months before returning home to work in a various array of jobs. After getting some money in the Bank Robert went to Harvard and he was loving it, unfortunately after two years he had to drop out due to health concerns. Him and his wife returned to Lawrence. By this point Robert had already received more than 40 honorary degrees yet he was still unknown.

Frosts first poem 'My Butterfly: An Elegy,' was published in 1894 in The Independent (a weekly literary journal company). In 1906, 'The Tuft of Flowers' and 'The Trial by existence,” were published. 6 years had gone by and he could not find anyone who was willing to publish his other poems. Him and his wife Elinor decided to sell the farm and move to England hoping that there would be more publishers willing to take a chance on new poets. Within a month Robert found a publisher who would print his first book of poems, A Boy’s Wil and a year later North of Boston. It was at this time that he met poets Edward Thomas and Ezra Pound, these two men were soon to significantly change his life. Ezra and Edward were the first people who believed him and though he was extremely talented. Many of Frosts poems have been inspired by the English landscape like one of his most famous poems, “The Road Not Taken.” After becoming a well-known poet, Robert kept writing beautiful poems and became one of the most acclaimed poets to have ever lived. Unfortunately, On January 29, 1963, Frost died from complications related to prostate surgery. His ashes are interred in Bennington, Vermont.

The road not taken

Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveller, 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 travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

My topic for the poems is life choices and, in the poem, ‘The Road Not Taken’ our life is symbolised by the road. The path we don’t choose is ‘the road not taken’. The path we have chosen, decides our future, our goal. The poet’s important message that the poet is trying to give us is that we decide our future by the choices we make and if we make a wrong choice, we will regret it and we will not be able to go back. So, we must be wise when making choices.

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Rhyme is used throughout the entire poem and it is used to create a ‘musical quality’. It also draws lines and stanzas together linking ideas and images therefore making it easier to read.

There are many metaphors in the poem like fork in the road and yellowwoods. The road in the poem is the metaphor of life, while the fork on the road is the choices we make as we navigate our path. Similarly, yellow woods are the metaphor of a person making a decision during a hard time in their life. These metaphors used in this poem emphasize the importance of different decisions we make in different situations and impacts they have on our lives.

In the third line of the second stanza, Robert Frost has personified the road “Because it was grassy and wanted wear” as if the road is human, and that it wants to wear and tear.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound’s the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

The poem creates an impression of a snow-covered woods and tells the tale of a man who wanted to enjoy the beauty of the woods but could not. In real life we have many things that we are attracted to and many things to enjoy. However, we cannot simply because we are always busy with other things in our short lifespan. So, we have to carry on with our lives. This is the message that is inherent in the poem. The woods symbolise the beautiful aspects of life, as well as life’s desires and distractions. If we want to achieve our goals, we can’t be distracted by the beautiful things around us.

There is a repetition of the verse “and miles before I go to sleep” “and miles before I go to sleep” this creates rhythm and brings attention to the deeper meaning of this verse.

Imagery is used to build the story into something vivid and real in the readers imagination. The poet has used the images such as woods, house, lake, and these images help readers see the woods as a source of comfort to a lonely traveller.

The following phrases are examples of alliteration from the poem: “watch his woods”, “sound’s the sweep”, “His house”. The alliteration is used to create rhythm and mood therefore making it easier for the readers to read.

Rhyme is used throughout the entire poem and it is used to create a ‘musical quality’. It also draws lines and stanzas together linking ideas and images therefore making it easier to read.

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The Road Not Taken: Critical Analysis Of Poetry. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from
“The Road Not Taken: Critical Analysis Of Poetry.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022,
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The Road Not Taken: Critical Analysis Of Poetry [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 17 [cited 2023 Dec 6]. Available from:
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