Blog series · Poetry

The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost | Poetry Analysis

This poem was suggested by tkbrownwriter @ By: tkbrown.writer. Be sure to check out her blog where you can find thought-provoking writes and poems.

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Born on March 26, 1874, Robert Frost was an American poet well known for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. Frost frequently wrote about settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. His work was initially published in England before it was published in the United States. He is is the only poet to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry. He died on January 29, 1963.
[ Bio and image(Frost celebrating his 85th birthday) from Wikipedia]

The Road Not Taken, published in The Atlantic Monthly in August 1915, is a poem Robert Frost wrote to highlight a trait of his friend Edward Thomas, an English-Welsh poet. Edward, when out walking with Frost in England would often regret not having taken a different path. According to Litcharts, “although commonly interpreted as a celebration of rugged individualism, the poem actually contains multiple different meanings.”

Quoting Owlcation, “The main theme of the “The Road Not Taken” is that it is often impossible to see where a life-altering decision will lead. Thus, one should make their decision swiftly and with confidence.” It is also to be noted that the poem’s tone comes across as meditative with the person pondering on his choices.

Being an ambiguous poem(i.e open to more than one interpretation), The Road Not Taken allows the reader to think about making choices in life, whether to abide by popular opinion or undertake the rest of the journey alone on the ‘road less travelled.‘ Life is often said to be a journey and the forked roads in the poem indicate the period in one’s life where he or she is required to take a decision. The poet’s choice functions as an extended metaphor for all the choices that we as individuals, need to make in life.

Quoting Owlcation again, “The ambiguity springs from the question of free will versus determinism, whether the speaker in the poem consciously decides to take the road that is off the beaten track or only does so because he doesn’t fancy the road with the bend in it. External factors therefore make up his mind for him. The central message is that, in life, we are often presented with choices. When making a choice, one is required to make a decision. Viewing a choice as a fork in a path, it becomes clear that we must choose one direction or another, but not both. As for color, Frost describes the forest as a “yellow wood.” Yellow can be considered a middle color, something in-between and unsure of itself. This sets the mood of indecision that characterizes the language of the poem.”

Frost clearly describes the roads in such a manner that the reader nor the person making a choice can see where either of the reads lead to. An extended interpretation is perceiving it in the manner that we can never predict the future consequences of decisions we make in the present. Andrew Spacey at Owlcation summarises it quite well, ” At the moment of decision-making, both roads present themselves equally, thus the choice of which to go down is, essentially, a toss up–a game of chance.”

The speaker finallly decides to go with the road less travelled and while contemplating that he might return to try out the other at some point, the speaker also admits that his choice has made all the difference and expresses doubt that he may not be able to return to explore the second path because ‘way leads on to way.’

This poem consists of four stanzas, each five lines in length (a quintrain). From Owlcation, “This simple looking poem, although mostly monosyllabic, has a traditional rhyme scheme of ABAAB which helps keep the lines tight, whilst the use of enjambment (where one line runs into the next with no punctuation) keeps the sense flowing.”

I took the one less travelled by
And that has made all the difference.

With a plethora of poetic devices like extended metaphor, repetition, enjambment, assonance etc. this is yet another literary masterpiece that we have been blessed with. Similar to Invictus and Still I Rise, this poem too holds relevance for everyone at all times.

Referred Sources:

So, that was all for this analysis. This is one among my favourite poems and I love how it holds so much depth and relevance to everyone’s lives. I hope you enjoyed the poem and please don’t hesitate to point out any errors or misinterpretations. Thank you for reading!


19 thoughts on “The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost | Poetry Analysis

  1. Thank You so much for such a thorough review of the poem I suggested. Your analysis would have pleased my college English I instructor’s palette. I also appreciate the Shout-Out for my recommendation of the poem. I am impressed! I am honored!
    (P.S. I am a she, not a he. LOL)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I am delighted you liked the poem and honoured you think that it would have appealed to your college instructor!
      I am so sorry about that. I have corrected it and updated the post! Take care!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. YES THANK YOU FOR POSTING ON BOTH OF YOUR GORGEOUS BLOGS! Please tell me you know that you’re one of my absolute favorite bloggers, I’m so in awe of all the content you put out and how SWEET AND FRIENDLY you are!!!!
    This poem is very famous, and I love how you talked about some of the more hidden themes! I never noticed some of these things before. Lol when probability applies to roads…sorry did that make sense?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Aw…Eleanor, THANK YOU SO MUCH!! ❤You’re too kind! And it makes me so happy to know that you’re liking Paper Hearts! I truly feel honoured to be one among your favourite blogs!🙌 Needless to say, I adore your write-ups as well! They NEVER fail to make me think deeply and analytically! 😍
      Glad you liked this poem, it’s truly remarkable! It would make sense if you completed it! 😂Once again, thank you so much for reading and leaving such a heart-warming comment!❤

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Yes, I believe it does make sense. When considering two paths in life, one holds one percentage of probability and the other holds another. While the two percentages combined likely do not total 100%, they do contribute to much of that percentage. I hope this helps.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. There you go, Eleanor! I didn’t understand what she was about to say, my bad! As for the probability being equally split between the two roads, I think much of it would also depend on the person making the choice, were you to take his/her preferences into account. And generally, the sum of probabilities is always equal to 1 i.e 100%. Very interesting question, Eleanor!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Ooh what a great poem! I think I may have read it before, I’m not quite sure…
    It’s so cool when a piece of writing has more than one meaning and/or it changes depending on the reader! 🙂
    By the way, I wanted to mention that I love the custom headings and dividers you use in this series! They’re so cute, fitting and unique!

    Liked by 2 people

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