The Road Not Taken

ROBERT FROST

Explication by Matt Diamond

Situation

The poem describes a traveler, the speaker, and the choice he made at a fork in a path. The speaker knows that he must choose one road. He "looked down one as far as [he] could" before choosing the other, which was "grassy and wanted wear".

The traveler continues on, describing how his choice affected him and ends with him saying how sometime long in the future, he knows that he will be glad he made the choice he did.

The speaker's tone shows that he knows his journey will be long, arduous and difficult. For example, in the last stanza, he says "I shall be telling this with a sigh..." showing that the path has worn him equally as much as he has worn it.

Yet at the same time, the speaker knows he has made the right choice - for he made the choice to be different.

Structure

The poem is written in four stanzas of five lines each. Each stanza appears to tell it's own part of the story. The first describing the arrival at the two roads, the second speaking of the decision made, the third describing the journey onward and finally, the last accounting of how in "ages and ages hence" the traveler will look back on his decision and know he made the right choice.

The poem is punctuated consistently at the end of each stanza. In this manner, each stanza is it's own sentence, and it's own thought. This shows the flow of the poem from one idea to another.

Language

Frost uses formal but understandable language to express his ideas. The imagery is quite substantial in his writing, describing the path on which he treads. The traveler describes the path as grassy and unworn, but says that "as for that the passing there had worn them really about the same". By this, the speaker means that the act of his passing had worn down the path enough to where both roads were equally tread.

Musical Devices

The poem is fairly rhythmic in nature. Frost uses an ABAAB rhyme scheme for each stanza, and uses an anapestic tetrameter. This means that each each of the four "feet" in a line is iambic - with one unstressed followed by a stressed syllable, but the third "foot" has two unstressed before the stressed syllable. This is significant in a sense that it is unique - similar to the speaker himself, who chooses his own path.

Works Cited

Frost, Robert. "The Road Not Taken." Mountain Interval. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1920; Bartelyby.com, 1999. March 9, 2015.