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The Road Not Taken

  • Date Submitted: 11/20/2013 05:05 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 70.6 
  • Words: 731
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The poet recalls walking in a wood and coming to a fork in the road.   Confronted with making the choice of which road to follow and having considered his options, he chooses the less used road.   He wishes it were possible to explore both, but consoles himself with the thought that he may get the chance to come back and try the other one some other time.   Then he acknowledges the reality that this is not very likely.

Making this simple choice becomes, for the poet, a symbol of other life choices, and the recognition that consequences follow choice.   He reflects on this in the final stanza and conveys a gentle sense of being reasonably content with the choices he has made in life.   It is as though this one choice serves as a symbol for all his choices, and he carries only the smallest tinge of regret – ‘I shall be telling this with a sigh’ – wondering what the outcomes of other choices might have been.

As befits a poem centred on a simple choice, it is set in the rustic beauty of the woods in autumn and the mood is gentle and quiet.   The poet conveys an initial emotion of regret at not being able to take both roads with the single word ‘sorry’.   In his reflection at the poem’s end, he recognizes that there will always be a touch of regret, a wondering, a ‘what if ...?’, but at the same time he conveys a sense of being at peace with his choices and their outcomes in his life.   We sense that he would make the same decision if confronted with the choice again.

Frost achieves the mood of gentle acceptance largely through his simple and economical language.   The words are the language of a person who is at peace with the world and with himself – no complexity, no angst, no struggle.   Although most of the words consist of only one or two syllables, the poem is rich in meaning.   In the line, ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood’, the single word ‘yellow’ leads us to visualize an autumn scene.   A single word in the phrase ‘long I stood’ conveys to us...


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