Poetry Study Aid:The Road Not Taken Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost

Extract I
Two Roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not take both
And be one traveller,long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.
1.    What is meant by diverged? What is suggested by the yellow wood?
Diverged means to ‘go in a different direction’. As the poet or the speaker of the poem started his journey he came to a point where the road forked in two different directions placing him in a dilemma.
The yellow wood suggests that the leaves of the trees are yellow and hence the season is autumn.
Some critics suggest that yellow colour, suggesting the onset of old age, denotes Robert Frost’s middle-aged status. (The poem’s autobiographical element). Frost wrote the poem when he was no longer young.
2.    Why does the narrator feel sorry? Why do you think that the narrator stood long?
The narrator, or the poet Robert Frost,during his morning walk in an autumn morning through the woods, comes across two roads diverging in two different directions. Frost is sad that he cannot take both the roads but has to make a choice between the two.
The poet stood at the crossroads, contemplating as to which of the two roads he should take, weighing both the roads for their merits.
See that Frost calls himself a traveller which transports the morning walk to a greater attribute.
In a metaphorical level, the walk of the poet symbolizes a man’s journey through his path of life. In his life, a man very often comes across crucial situations where he has to make a decision and his decision decides his course of life.
The two roads are, metaphorically, the choices that are before him. The poet’s delay suggests obliquely the need for deep thought and reflection of the consequences before we take a life-changing decision.
3. How can you conclude from the stanza that the narrator was in the dilemma of which road to take?
When Frost confronted the diverging road, he was in a quandary. He could not immediately decide which road to take. Hence, He stood at the fork pondering which road to take. The phrase long I stood clearly indicates the poet’s dilemma in making a decision.
4. What is meant by undergrowth? Where did the first road lead?
Undergrowth is the brush (small trees and bushes and ferns etc.) growing beneath taller trees in a wood or forest. When Frost strained to find out the stretch of one of the roads stretch, he could see that the first road curved into the bushes at a distance.
5.    Frost is a rural poet. What picture of the countryside does he give in the extract?
Frost is acclaimed as a pastoral poet. He uses the simple, colloquial diction of the rural people. The images used in the extract, such as ‘the yellow woods’ ‘undergrowth’, give the poem a savour of the country side. Even the incident described in the extract – a man in his morning walk coming across roads that diverge- is typically countryside.
6.    Describe the conflict introduced by the poet in the extract.
The two diverging roads that the poet faces is the core conflict. The poet or the traveller is in a predicament which road he should take. The road offers conflicting options to the poet traveller, as he has no idea of the nature or the extent of either of the roads. He cannot make a decision immediately.
In real life also, we find in such situations where we are faced with conflicting choices and our choice or decision has a far-reaching impact. The decision we make not only affects our life but also has an effect on the life of our near and dear.
7.    Give the symbolism of the two roads. What is the significance of choosing one road?
The two roads that the poet-traveller faces in his morning walk are symbolic of the choices that we have to encounter in our life. The morning walk itself is a metaphor for the great journey of life.
In the poem the poet, after prolonged thought, decides to take the road less travelled, accepting its challenges and uncertainties. The decision is final and irreversible and it has its own consequences, may be positive or negative.
In real life also we confront such critical situations where we face life-altering options. The decision we make is crucial. We should contemplate over the choices before as and decide our priorities. Once we make the decision and proceed accordingly, we can never reverse it. The life takes its own course, and it does not give a second chance to alter our decision and change our course of life. Hence, decide wisely.
Extract II
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.

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