The Road Not Taken
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost Essay
1. Robert Frost is the prominent poet of American literature. His lyrical poems are saturated with philosophic vision of a human life. The poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost expresses the uncertainty and finality of choice. The poem is rich with symbolism, which is open for interpretation of the reader. The aim of this essay is to evaluate this poem through poetic analysis, and reveal its message.
2. Kennedy and Dana (2010) discussed the symbolism of this poem in their book. The following analysis is based on Frost’s poem, presented in their book. Evaluation of any poem seems to be impossible without the analysis of its sound devices and figures of speech. The analysis helps to understand the message of the poem and realize the author’s vision of the world. The poem “The Road Not Taken” gives an opportunity to deepen into the main theme: the uncertain human nature and problem of choice.
2.1. One may note that the poem’s rhythm and structure provide clues to the overall meaning. First of all, it is necessary to understand the rhyme of the poem. Each of four stanzas of “The Road Not Taken” consists of five lines (the scheme is ABAAB). Lines have four syllables (iambic tetrameter). The rhyme is strict; however, the last line is an exception: “And that has made all the difference” (Frost, 20). In the word “difference”, the stress is on “-ence”.
The poem’s rhyme emphasizes on the words that create the message; thus, one should pay attention to the following sound devices. For example, in the first stanza, assonance (“wood”, “stood”, “looked”, “could”; “both”, “roads”) gives an opportunity to catch the following information, concentrated in these words: a person stood in the wood, looked on the both roads, and considers which road to chose, realizing that it is a quite difficult task (Frost, 1, 2, 3, 4).
In the same time, the first line “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” deepens a reader into the poem’s setting (Frost, 1). The whole poem is not a situation but person’s reflection of the setting: there are two roads, and only one of them can be chosen, and it does not matter whether it will be right or not. The euphony facilitates the process of absorbing into the poem, and allows to experience with the narrator the problem of choice.
The figures of speech contribute to the imagery of the poem. For example, the epithets “just”, “fair”, “grassy”, describe the road, chosen by the narrator (Frost, 6, 8). Such symbolic metaphor like “roads” (Frost, 1, 18) suggests an idea of human lifelines or the ways which one chooses in life to follow. Also, the symbolic epithet “less traveled” means that the road is full of challenges (Frost, 19). All the people encounter this dilemma.
2.2. The title of the poem focuses the reader’s attention on the road that is not taken by a person. Without gain, there is no loss. The narrator wants to show that life does not have a right path: there is only other path and chosen one. It is evident, that the poem has a philosophical view on a human choice in life.
Symbolism of the poem, expressed by the road-metaphor and other elements, contributes to Frost’s perception of the world: a human being may choose only one road to follow; for this reason, decision can be a difficult process, because everyone realizes that one day, one may regret of the choice made. The roads “equally lay” mean people are free to make a choice (Frost, 11).
Also, there is an irony that can be seen in the following lines: “I shall be telling this with a sigh/ Somewhere ages and ages hence” (Frost, 16, 17). The narrator anticipates the wrongness of the decision in his future, and realizes that betrayal of the moment of decision is inevitable. Once, he will sigh with remorse, and recollect these roads in the wood; nevertheless, sometimes, people can not change the way chosen.
The identity of the narrator is more or less predictable. In the poem, Frost shows his uncertainty in the fork of life. He believes that one should choose one of the roads, but nobody knows for sure whether this choice will be right or not. A reader sees himself in the poem: everyone can be uncertain in making a choice.
For this reason, the mood of the poem is quite sad that can be seen in the following lines: “And sorry I could not travel both”, “Oh, I kept the first for another day!”, “I shall be telling this with a sigh”, “And that has made all the difference”, etc. (Frost, 2, 13, 16, 20). Such words like “sorry”, “sigh”, “difference”, “another day” contribute to the mood of the poem.
3. The significance of the poem lies in its subject matter and theme: human uncertainty in the choice. Frost shows a reader only one of view on this problem; most people can not but agree with the main point. Human experience suggests that there are wrong ways in life, but the poem’s author stresses that one is free which way to follow.
The wrongness of the chosen road will be obvious only in the future; and this he transmits through sad irony. Figures of speech and overall melodic harmony of the poem makes it a unique diamond in American literature. Moreover, it is a thought provoking, psychological and philosophical poem that raises one of the most essential human problems: problem of choice in life.
4. The poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost remains a valuable heritage of the world literature. Reading this poem, one may realize the problematic and uncertain character of human choice in the fork of life. The author looks at this problem through philosophical and psychological point of view that makes the poem symbolic and significant.
Kennedy, Joe, and Dana Gioia . Literature: an Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. 6th ed. Harlow, UK: Longman, 2010. Print.
Literary Devices In Robert Frost’s Poetry [Essay]
Robert Frost is one of the most celebrated American poets of the early 20th century. The themes of his works address the life and nature of New England. His works are powerful and memorable due to the skillful use of various literary devices. This essay shall explore literary devices Robert Frost uses in his poetry..
In four poems under consideration, “The Road Not Taken,” “Fire and Ice,” “The Lockless Door,” and “After Apple-Picking,” the author makes use of four literary devices, such as form, symbolism, imagery, and allusions. These devices help the author focusing on particular themes and ideas addressed in the texts of the poems.
Literary Elements in “The Road Not Taken”
The first poem under consideration is “The Road Not Taken,” published in 1916. It is one of the most famous and analyzed works by the author. The leading theme of the poem is the non-conformist ideas of the author, the problem of life choice, and the dilemma in making the right decision. Thus, to present his views, Frost makes use of several stylistic devices, such as hyperbole, consonance, alliteration, antithesis, metaphors, images, and allusions. Moreover, the author uses figurative language in order to enrich the meaning of his poem. One of the most significant elements is the form in which the poem is organized.
Thus, the poem has four stanzas, and each stanza has five lines (quintains). The rhyme scheme of the poem is the following one: ABAAB. For example, as in the first stanza:
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, (A)
And sorry I could not travel both (B)
And be one traveler, long I stood (A)
And looked down one as far as I could (A)
To where it bent in the undergrowth; (B)” (Frost lines 1-4).
The basic rhyme of the poem is iambic, however, with some brakes.
The form of the poem is quite complicated but very strict. The author makes use of such a structure to emphasize the content of the poem. We can conclude that form is dependent upon form and vice versa. The form of the work (rhythm and rhyme) “departs from the established norm.” The same thing happens to the main protagonist who hesitates and cannot make up the right decision and choose one “road.”
Poetic Techniques in “After Apple-Picking”
“After Apple-Picking” by Robert Frost is an excellent example of the author’s use of allusions. In this poem, Frost examines the perspective and its effect or religion and how the situation can influence one’s attitude towards this situation. To explore this question, the author makes use of allusions. Thus, the allusions are often met in the text, and they frame the main idea and make it easy to understand.
The first allusion in the text is the allusion to religion, “My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree/ towards heaven still” (Frost 1). The author addresses the Heaven to relate the rest of the poem to the area of religious beliefs. Such use of allusion helps the author to frame the whole text of the poem and make it more effective. The second allusion is an allusion to negative situations that people can meet in their lives and individual responses to these situations.
Having described several scenes of the apple gathering, the author claims, “But I am done with apple-picking now. / Essence of winter sleep is on the night” (Frost 6-7). Winter in the text is a synonym of problems, and probably death, and show how these problems can lead people to situations when they question their future and their faith.
In the text, the protagonist is giving up, but there are also other solutions to the problems, everything depends on the personal perspective. Further in the poem, the author explores the change of perspectives, “…looking through a pane of glass / I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough / And held against the world of hoary grass.” (Frost 10-12).
The author alludes to personal perspectives, claiming that the outcomes of the situation depend on how people look and interpret them. Finally, in the closing lines, the author alludes to death, “Long sleep…coming on” (Frost 41), describing it as an inevitable outcome on everyone’s life. Thus, in “After Apple-Picking,” literary devices, mostly allusions, express the main idea of the poem.
Symbolism in “Fire and Ice”
Another literary device that Frost widely uses in his poems is symbolism. “Fire and Ice” is a prominent example of this usage. The reader can notice two main symbols in the text of the poem, “fire” and “ice.” In a few lines, the author manages to show a crucial meaning of his poetry to a reader. He makes this through the usage of literary devices. Thus, the main idea explored by the author is possible “end of the world.”
Thus, Frost sees two endings, “Some say the world will end in fire, / Some say in ice” (Frost 1-2). “Fire” is a symbol of war and destruction, some nuclear explosion or death from the sun radioactive emission,” as opposed to this, “ice” is a symbol of cooling of the planet, ice age, etc.
The author also explores human deeds, such as “desire” and “hate.” Fire is associated with desire, which is regarded as a sin, “hate” is “ice” and also provides a perspective on human’s sins. Thus, fire and ice are also symbols of human’s bad behavior and how it can influence society and nature. The author claims that “the end of the world” is a result of human activity, their attitude towards each other, and the better world.
Robert Frost’s Poetic Devices in “The Lockless Door”
“The Lockless Door” by Robert Frost is filled with imagery, which has significant meaning. Almost every line of the text presents an example of it. In the poem, the author uses this device to convey his emotions. Thus, he describes the situation when people are afraid of uncertainty, which prevents them from making decisions and living a full life.
For example, Frost describes how he is afraid of “whatever the knock” (Frost 15) and shows his behavior, “But the knock came again. / My window was wide; / I climbed on the sill / And descended outside” (Frost 9-12). The author expresses the hope that he is able to rescue from the changes and return his usual lifestyle. However, the author also provides the idea that our lives can be easier and safer if we face our problems, we can start all over again.
Thus, we can conclude that literary devices that Robert Frost used in his poetry helped the author to express his ideas and provide the reader with an in-depth understanding of the themes of his poems. Metaphors, allusions, symbols, imaginary, and other literary devices are often met in his works.
The poems discussed earlier in this paper are great examples of how the author uses allusions, symbolism, imagery, and form to attract the reader’s attention to the problems discussed in the poems and make his works more expressive and understandable to a broader audience of readers.
Frost, Robert. “After Apple Picking”. The Literature Network. Web.
– – -. “The Lockless Door”. Poetry Archive. Web.
– – -. “Fire and Ice”. The Literature Network. Web.
– – -.”The Road Not Taken”. The Road Not Taken, Birches, and Other Poems. Ed. Robert Frost. San Diego: Coyote Canyon Press, 2010.
The Road Not Taken Essay
Robert Frost was an avid poet who lived in America between during the twentieth century. His poem “The Road Not Taken” is still one of his best works. Frost’s exceptional depictions of America’s rural life along with his mastery of colloquial speech, makes him one of the best poets of the twentieth century (Dickinson et al. 16).
In most of his works, the rural New England’s setting is used as a tool for examining philosophical and sociological themes. His work made him an American literature heavy weight managing to win him several Pulitzer prizes in the process. Frost’s stature in Poetry can only be compared to that of other notable figures like Eliot and Stevens.
In this poem, the speaker has come upon a diversion in a path in the woods. In the woods, the leaves’ color is already turning. It is in this fork that the speaker contemplates on which road to follow. The main problem is that the speaker cannot follow both paths. After examining one of the paths as far as he/she can see, he/she decides to take the other.
In the speaker’s mind, the path he /she takes is less worn out. However, the truth is that both paths are almost the same. Near the end, the speaker reflects on how he plans to try the road he/ she did not take. Nevertheless, the chances of doing this according to the speaker are very minimal.
In “The Road Not Taken”, the poet uses a reflective tone to address the significance of the choices one makes in life. In this poem, Symbolism is the tool used to bring about this reflection. The “road” referred to by the speaker is the most prominent symbol in the poem. In this case, the road refers to a path in life.
The poem addresses universal themes that are easy to relate to. In turn, this increases the poem’s audience. The poet also employs devices such as rhythms and rhymes. These make the poem easy to read and synthesize. In the end, the speaker uses a nostalgic tone when pondering on what lay on the path he/she did not take.
This poem has four stanzas. Each of the four stanzas has five lines. These five lines have a rhyme scheme of ABAAB. The poem is in the form of a narrative. Each of the lines in the poem has nine syllables. “The Road Not Taken” is one of the most popular poems by Robert Frost. Sometimes the title of this poem is mistaken for “The Road Less Travelled”. Over the years, the poem has been studied in high schools around the country.
Most analyzers classify “The Road Not Taken” as a nostalgic interpretation of personal choices. The narrator decided to use the path that is “less travelled” instead of the more popular one. The narrator also acknowledges that his/her life would have been fundamentally different if his/her choice was different. In the narrator’s view, the road not taken was more popular than the one he/she took.
Most readers find this poem easy to relate to as it is easy for them to empathize with the narrator. This is because almost everyone has been in a situation where he/she had to choose between two options. Like the narrator, in most cases one cannot see beyond the “bend in the undergrowth”. Without this knowledge of where the path would lead, the only consolation is to have faith that one made the right choice.
The narrator’s decision to follow the less popular path shows bravery. Most readers would like to possess such bravery when making life-choices. For instance, most people are in the habit of going with the more popular decisions when put in the narrator’s position. The narrator chooses to take a less safe path in the hope that those who come after him/her can emulate this.
A closer analysis of the poem reveals that the narrator’s hypothesis is somehow inaccurate. The narrator is talking about these two possible paths years after making his/her choice. For instance, when the narrator reaches the diversion point, both paths are described as being “equally fair”.
It seems that even the narrator cannot conclusively declare that one path is better than the other is. The narrator uses the term “perhaps” in justifying this choice. When the narrator is justifying his/her choice, old age has already come. Therefore, in the narrator’s admission it is impossible to find out which of these two choices is the better one.
In the first three stanzas, there is no sense of remorse in the narrator’s voice. The narrator is very confident with his/her decision (Shan 116). In addition, the narrator does not admit to the importance of this decision in his/her life. It is only later that the narrator tries to organize the events of his/her life in a manner that makes sense to both the narrator and the audience.
The need to justify this choice is perhaps a way of addressing questions pertaining to the outcome of the narrator’s life. In the end, the narrator sticks to the belief that the path taken was the less popular one. This is in a bid to let the audience know that making this choice was inevitable.
The narrator’s alludes to the fact that he/she had to make his/her choice in the morning. In the third stanza, the narrator acknowledges that he/she was at the path in the morning, and not many people had used the path at the time. This means two things, the first is that this choice was being made early in life, and the second is that there were no many examples to be followed.
These two claims successfully alert the reader about the complexity of the narrator’s situation. Most people can also relate to this by remembering the decisions they made when they were younger. This makes it easier to sympathize with the narrator. The fact that the narrator lacked a choice he/she could emulate makes the situation even more complex. This is because in such scenarios most people use other people’s experiences when making their minds.
Life is full of choices. Even the seemingly inconsequential choices can impact one’s life in a big way. This statement surrounds the poem’s main theme and message. The title of the poem is “The Road Not Taken.” Still, the poem explores the other option or the road that was taken.
Using rhymes and rhythm, the poet conveys his message skillfully. The basic argument is that even though one may be faced with difficult choices in life, one eventually has to pick a path and stick to it. The only thing one can do is to believe that the path he/she took was the right path.
Dickinson, Emily, et al. Four Major American Poets. Upper Saddle, NJ: Pearson Education, 2010. Print.
Shan, Liu. “A Poem of Exotic Tragic Beauty- Appreciation of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.” Science & Technology Information 19.1 (2007): 116-117. Print.
“The Road Not Taken” and “When Death Comes” Poems Comparison Essay
Whether there is value or purpose inherent in our lives, other than that which we ascribe to, has remained a matter of speculation. And if one was to consider the idea of the immortality of the human soul, the possibility of the afterlife and the certitude of our physical death, life becomes an affair of profound perplexity; and at times, one of little value and significance. It is our conscious or unconscious take on these questions that shape our attitude on life and, consequently, how we go about living it.
These questions have plagued humanity for a long time and have made the subject of many a poem. This essay will be based on two poems; the “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost and May Oliver’s “When Death Comes.” I will show that implicit in these two poems is the celebration of the sublimity of the present moment and the intrinsic value of the novel experience. Indeed, I will show that, according to the two poems, life is nothing but an accumulation of experiences.
Mary Oliver’s “When Death Comes” at first seems like a poem about death. This take is implied from the first three stanzas which, in quite morbid a manner, allude to the suddenness and inevitability of death. The use of ‘when’ as the first word in the first line may seem simple enough. The word though conveys certainty, an unquestionable surety of something to come. The use of similes such as ‘like a hungry bear in autumn’ and ‘like the measle-pox’ serves to show us the unannounced nature and unwanted presence of death in our midst (Oliver).
When one reads on and when closer attention is paid to the significance of every word however, one realizes that the poem is indeed a celebration of life. From the fifth stanza onwards, the persona expounds how she, faced with the certainty of death, sees fit to lead his/her life.
The persona says that s/he will celebrate the uniqueness of every life and appreciate the harmony of our immortal nature: ‘and I think of each life as a flower, as common as a field daisy, and as singular’ (Oliver). Thus, Oliver gives life an almost surreal quality. She advocates for a holistic lifestyle, one in which we appreciate all living beings, where we connect with every other human, marveling at whatever one beholds, where nothing is taken for granted:
“and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms” (Oliver).
The last line of the poem, ‘I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world,’ foregrounds the significance of experiencing our world (Oliver). If we don’t take it all in while we still had the time, we would have been mere visitors to the world. The supremacy of the ‘now’ has been brought out quiet forcefully in the poem. When death is certain and sudden, and eternity is ‘just another possibility,’ the only reality we know is now (Oliver).
The Road Not Taken on the other hand is a poem about decisions. The persona of the poem is faced by a moment where a decision has to be made. Frost has used the analogy of a forked road. The persona, after a lengthy consideration, takes the one less travelled; the one which was ‘grassy and wanted wear’ (Frost). In doing so, he hopes to travel the other road some other time: “Oh, I marked the first for another day! / Yet knowing how way leads on to way/ I doubted if I should ever come back” (Frost).
In this decision, to take the road that fewer people had trodden, while he knew that he probably will never come to travel the second, lies the meaning of the poem. Frost impresses upon us to be explorative, to not be afraid to find things out about which no one else seems to have bothered. Not taking the popular road made all the difference in the persona’s life. The persona looks into the future and predicts that he will look back upon his life and be appreciative of that one moment that he dared to explore:
“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 traveled by,
And that has made all the difference” (Frost).
Implicit in the meaning of this poem is the value attached to new experiences. Such an attitude, where great significance is attributed to the present moment, is informed by a lack of certainty about the future and apparent distrust in the notion of immortality; a concern to be found in Oliver’s “When Death Comes.”
At first glance, the two poems seem to clearly expound divergent subjects. When deeper analysis is carried out though, it is revealed that they actually share thematic concerns and are informed by similar attitudes.
Frost, R. “The road Not Taken.” 2012. Web. <https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-road-not-taken/>
Oliver, M. “When Death Comes.” 2012. Web.
“The Road not Taken” by Richard Frost Essay
The road not taken is a poem that most people have misinterpreted for a long time. Some say the poem the poet is talking about a road less travelled. However, a keen look at the poem reveals the opposite as the speaker talks about a road not taken at all as opposed to a road less travelled. The last stanza of the poem is ironic and talks about choosing a road and living with the decision.
The speaker is not concerned with the road less traveled, but choosing one road at the fork. A decision to take one road has to be made because “And sorry I could not travel both” (Frost 2). No road is less travelled as the speaker puts it “the passing there / Had worn them really about the same” (Frost 9-10).
Therefore, the speaker has to take one of the roads and live with the consequences of taking that road. The two roads pose a dilemma for the speaker, but a choice has to be made. The roads symbolize the decisions that people have to make in their day to day lives. Sometimes one cannot tell how the decision one makes will turn out, but it is fate that it has to be made and the rest left to chance.
The last stanza is ironic because the speaker introduces a sign of remorse through his words “I shall be telling with a sigh” (Frost 16). He seems to be justifying the reason he took the less travelled road “because it was grassy and wanted wear” (Frost 8). He is trying to say even though taking that road has its consequences it was really a matter of fate as both roads looked equally worn.
He seems to be saying that he could not have known what was ahead on the path he took, but maybe things would have different if he had taken the other road that he did not. It is ironic that he would feel remorse yet a decision had to be made to take one path between the two unknown roads.
It is ironical that the speaker would have to explain his decision in his later days yet he made a decision that had to be made and the nature takes its course. Furthermore, the speaker has no control of what may happen to his life in the path that he chose, but there is the chance of regretting taking it because the other one not taken may have had a different result. However, he will never know because there is no chance of going back to take the road not taken.
Besides, the speaker has shown independence of mind at the point of making his decisions because he says: “I choose the one less travelled by/And that has made all the difference” (Frost 19-20). Thus, he chose to go a different way than most people. For instance, many would take the more travelled road, but would it have made any difference?
The speaker is remorseful and he shall be telling “somewhere ages and ages hence” (Frost 17). The less travelled road does not mean it is necessarily a better choice because he says something different in the last stanza hence the irony (Pritchard 1).
On the other hand, the irony in the last stanza shows that we can only know the outcome of making a decision after we have made it and not a minute before as the speaker demonstrates. He observed both paths “And looked down one as far as I could/ To where it bent in the undergrowth” (4-5). The other road he saw it was grassy and he “And having perhaps the better claim” (Frost 7). At that point he could not tell the outcome of taking that road that he did even though he chose the one that was grassy and less travelled.
The irony is that one has to make a choice and only know if it was good or bad after setting out as opposed to knowing the implications beforehand so as to make informed choices. It means that human beings have to make decisions and learn on the go. The destination of human being will only be realized upon arrival (Richardson 1). Therefore, one must learn to live with the decisions made in life.
In conclusion, the two roads that the speaker has to choose between and take one look the same. He has to use his impulse to make the decision. However, at the end of the poem the tone becomes ironic and the speaker seems to regret taking the road that he took. Therefore, he can only guess how his life would have been if he had taken the other road, but he will never know the difference it would have made.
More importantly, should the speaker live with regret of the outcome of the choice he made or become content because there was nothing much he could do apart from choosing. It seems some decisions we make in life are really necessary, but we have no power over how they turn out and we can choose to live in regrets or be glad we took the road that we did for all the things we encounter in our lives.
Frost, Richard. The road not taken. n.d. Web. <https://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-road-not-taken/>.
Pritchard, William. On the road not taken. n.d. Web. <http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/frost/road.htm>.
Richardson, Mark. On the road not taken. n.d. Web. <http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/frost/road.htm>
Symbolism in Ozymandias by P.B. Shelley, The Sick Rose by W. Blake, The Road Not Taken by R. Frost Essay
Form and figurative language form the backbone of poetry. Form refers to the physical structure of a poem while figurative language entails the use of various stylistic devices in a poem to express a certain meaning. Such styles include similes, metaphors, personification, symbolism, irony, among others. On the form, poems are structured into lines and stanzas.
Based on this, poems can be categorized as free verse or sonnets. This essay will focus on the analysis of form and symbolism in three selected poems. The poems are Ozymandias by P.B. Shelley, The Sick Rose by William Blake and The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. Most importantly, the essay will draw a comparison of the use of symbolism in these three poems.
Use of Symbolism
The three poems rely heavily on the use of symbolism to put their messages across. In Ozymandias the poet analyses the issue of mortality through several powerful symbols. An “antique land” (Shelley, line 1) is the first symbol in this poem. It is central to the understanding of this poem since it is a pointer to its subject matter. An antique land is an area full of historical relics and artifacts.
It is, therefore, a symbol of long periods, long enough to create history. It creates the feeling that the reader is going to be treated to relics of the past – and that is exactly what happens. There is also the symbol of the broken statue rotting away in the desert. It is a great work of art, meant to last for an eternity but somehow, it has succumbed to the ravages of nature and is now hopelessly broken down.
The dilapidation of the mighty statue is symbolized by the “trunkless legs of stone” (Shelley, line 2) implying that the rest of the body has been wasted away. Also, there is a reference to a “shattered visage” (Shelley, line 3), which denotes a run-down head of the statue. Through the use of these symbols, Shelley intends to communicate to the audience the extent of the destruction of the statue.
The poem also seems to be asserting the fact that this is indeed a historical relic. The statue symbolizes a once great king, who, in his honor, constructs a statue of himself. The king may have intended to leave a lasting legacy behind. But after many years, the strong legacy is being eroded by either force of nature or men who are miffed by his misdeeds.
The expressions depicted on the shattered visage symbolize the passions and feelings that Ozymandias had when alive. The sculptor did his best to immortalize those feelings on stone, as it is illustrated thus: “Tell that its sculptor well those passions read” (Shelley, line 6). The visage has a “frown,” wrinkled lip” and a “sneer of cold command” (Shelley, line 4-5).
This suggests that King Ozymandias was far from being friendly. It depicts an authoritative personality, who does not brook discontent or alternative opinion. This may also symbolize the dictatorial tendencies harbored by the king during his heydays. The poet has employed symbolism to succinctly illustrate these feelings, and possibly show that Ozymandias’ reign may not have been popular.
This may drive readers to the conclusion that the great destruction of his statue could have been orchestrated by disenchanted subjects who are out to erase that part of their history from their lives. Unfortunately, the feelings survive because they have been “stamped” or cast in stone.
Through symbolism, the poet can juxtapose life and death. Reference to life is denoted by the speaker, who receives the tale of Ozymandias from a traveler from an antique land. Right after the representation of life, there is death. The broken down statue represents a mighty ruler who is no longer alive: “stamp’d on these lifeless things” (Shelley, line 7).
Death is also implied in the last line of the poem: “The lone and level sands stretch far away” (Shelley, line 14). There are no other forms of life around the statue. Symbolism is also rife in the poem The Sick Rose by William Blake. The rose is itself symbolic. Naturally, the rose is known for its alluring beauty and sweet scent, and also for its nasty nettle.
In this poem, however, the rose is sick: “O rose thou art sick” (Blake, stanza 1.1). It may symbolize the society, an individual or an item that is on the verge of destruction even though it seems to be doing fine. A society may experience success in various fields, particularly socially and economically, but its moral fiber could be decaying.
As such, this society would be considered “sick.” Blake seems to be driving a warning home: that we should not always judge things by their face value. This is a short poem, and the poet manages to convey a lot of meaning through the use of the symbol of a rose.
The cause of the sickness of the rose is also symbolic. It is an “invisible worm” (Blake, stanza 1.2) that flies in the night. The worm sneaks into the rose undetected and is only felt when the rose begins to wither and die. This connotes a destructive element that quietly makes its way into the being of a society or an individual and embarks on a slow, but sure process of destruction.
It could be a lifestyle, for example, alcohol consumption or smoking, which an individual may adopt without consideration of their harmful side effects. The effects often go undetected in their early stages and are only realized when it is too late.
The use of this symbol is deliberate. The poet might have been reacting to certain undesirable elements around him, which people were not noticing. It is possible he was referring to the effects of the industrial revolution in Europe, which brought about increased the production of goods and services but had a dehumanizing impact on the population.
The interaction between man and man was severed as the man was replaced by a machine. Through symbolism, Blake can introduce a new twist to the poem in the second stanza. The worm finds the “bed of crimson joy” (Blake, stanza 2.1-2) and launches its nefarious agenda from there. This indicates that the worm attacks that which is a perpetual source of joy to the rose.
This introduces the “dark secret love” (Blake, stanza 2.3), which the worm exploits to kill the rose. This implies that it is the intimate aspects of an individual or society’s life that destroys them. The rose is engaged in a dark secret love with the worm. It is dark because it is undesirable, against the norms of the society and so, it has to be secret.
Blake is emphasizing the fact that it is the things that people do secretly that finally destroy them. Essentially, through the use of symbolism, the poet can compress a lot of meaning into a short, powerful poem. The poem burns itself indelibly into the mind of the reader and can engage them long after they read it. Symbolism has also provided Blake with the opportunity to dress his rather serious poem appealingly.
The readers are likely to enjoy the poem without realizing at first that it is a scathing criticism of their secret lives. Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken, is also built on symbolism. The four-stanza poem depicts an individual at crossroads. The individual chooses the path that many people have avoided and lives to cherish this choice.
To begin with, the title is itself symbolic. It refers to an uncharted course of life in which one has no experience and information about because it has not been taken by others before. It implies venturing into areas that others have avoided for one reason or another.
It indicated independent decisions that keep one away of the clutches of mob psychology that sometimes orchestrate the downfall of some people. Through a symbolic title, Frost can create suspense and entice people to read the poem with the urge to find out more about the road less traveled.
The “road” in this poem is pregnant with meaning. It refers to the crucial decisions that shape one’s life. The road forks out into two and the speaker has to decide which one to follow. Looking as far ahead into each branch has little effect; thus, the speaker is confined to their wits to inform their decisions:
And I looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth (Frost, stanza 1.3-4)
Each path disappears into the undergrowth implying that each choice is unfamiliar to the speaker and, therefore, might be tempted to make a random pick. However, after some soul-searching, the speaker decides not to follow the crowd. It is interesting to note that although the speaker does not regret the choice he made, he still wonders what could have been the outcome of taking on the road that others had already traveled on.
Another powerful symbol lies in “knowing how way leads on to way” (Frost, stanza 3.4). The speaker is well aware that the outcome of the decision made cannot be reversed: “I doubted if I should ever come back” (Frost, stanza 3.5). This is because the all-determining decision will have to be sustained by other decisions in the course of one’s life.
Frost has effectively employed symbolism to advance the subject matter of the poem. It is both a piece of advice and a warning. The poet advises people to explore areas hither to unexploited before and to adopt fresh approaches and outlooks in life.
As a warning, Frost prevails upon individuals to refrain from the mob mentality or doing things because others are doing the same. People should, therefore, be independent when making decisions or choices that reflect on their lives.
The three poets have employed symbolism to a greater extent to enhance meaning. Very powerful messages are put across to readers via memorable symbols, which are largely familiar, e.g., roads, rose, and statue. Symbolism has thus been used as a tool to lengthen the plot of the poems.
It has also been used aesthetically, as can be seen from the three poems. The various symbols make the poems interesting and attractive to read. Symbolism is, therefore, one of the most important aspects of figurative language heavily used in poetry.
Blake, William. The Sick Rose. Poets.org, n.d. Web. November 23rd, 2011. <http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/21949>.
Frost, Robert. The Road Not Taken. Poets.org, n.d. Web. November 23rd, 2011. <http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15717>.
Shelley, Percy P. Ozymandias. Poets.org, n.d. Web. November 23rd, 2011. <http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15691>.
Comparing Robert Frost’s Poems: The Road not Taken and A Question Essay
The two popular poems by Robert Frost – The Road not Taken and A Question – focus on experiences and hardships that a person should undergo before a decision is made. Although they rely on the problem of difficult choices, they are a number of differences in their viewpoints on philosophical conception of life. In particular, The Road not Taken focuses on the events that influenced the narrator’s choice and provided the rationale for his actions.
In contrast, A Question deliberates on what has already been done. Specific attention requires the question about the value of death and life, as well as about the reflection on previous experience. Hence, the leading aspects and themes discussed in both poems are associated with the difficulties in decision-making, influence of life experience on the choices, and consequences of our actions. All these themes are represented from the viewpoint of the narrator who is concerned with the problems of being.
The structure and size of the poems differ significantly. In particular, The Road not Taken is a four-stanza poem with five lines each. The rhythmic pattern is iambic tetrameter which coincides the ABAAB scheme. Rhymes are masculine and straight, except for the last line where the stress is put on the last syllable.
A Question has only one stanza with four lines, but it also has iambic structure. Although the poems are from different collections, they indicate similar features in terms of themes, characters, and philosophical outlooks on life. Biographical features in both verses are explicitly illustrated. Although the author focuses on natural phenomena, most of subjects relate to the human feelings, experiences, and emotions.
Description of life experience is, probably, at the core of all literary works introduced by Frost. According to Bloom, “Frost’s verse is often so apparently paraphrasable as to seem the précis for some short story: a domination of plot that takes up the slack seemingly left by an overly straightforward, honey, and blunt language” (87-88). Presence of metaphysical elements, as well as reflection on the sense of existence, is also associated with autobiographical features of Frost’ poetic work.
Decision-making is, apparently, the prevailing theme in Frosts’ poem because both literary pieces focus on this issue. The problem is highlighted almost in similar figurative manner because Frost refers to the ideas of decision-making through representations of metaphorical comparisons. Thus, in the first poem, the author compares choices with paths in the forest: “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood/And sorry I could not travel both” (The Road not Taken 9).
While interpreting this, the author assumes that an individual cannot made two opposite decisions, just as it is impossible to take roads simultaneously. Similar to this poem, A Question also relies on metaphorical comparisons while deliberating on the matter of choice: “…tell me truly…if all the soul-and-body scars were too much to pay for the birth” (A Question 45). In the passage, the author compares “soul-and-body scares” with the consequences of the decisions that people made during their lives.
Influence of life experience on people’s choice is also brightly demonstrated in both verses, but at different angles. In particular, both poems refer to such feelings as regret and frustration while questioning the outcomes of the choices made. At the end of The Road not Taken, Frost makes use of the word “sign” to render his disappointment with the decision he made in life: “I shall be telling this with a sigh/…I Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by” (9).
At the same time, negative experience is interpreted in the second poem, in which the poet compares human knowledge with “soul-and-body scars” that should be paid off. With regard to these metaphorical interpretations, it should be assumed that both verses unveil the author’s viewpoint on the concept of life, in which experience defines the goals of human existence. It also creates understanding of what role free will and fate play on our lives.
Consequences of our actions shape our future. Frost refers to human lives with irony because all our decisions are largely limited by the existence of choices in front of our paths. In the majority of cases, people are under the influence of circumstances that make them choose the path they go.
Nevertheless, Frost constantly questions the inevitability of the choices made and justifies the chosen solutions in life. At the same time, he thinks that people are not the only ones to blame in their searching. In particular, there are other supernatural powers that do not depend on circumstances created by humans. In both poems, external powers are represented, but in different capacities.
In conclusion, Frost’ verses analyze the role of decision making in human lives, as well as how it is affected by personal wisdom and external circumstances. Although both novels relate to different epistemological dimensions, they discover such problems as the matter of choice, importance of life experience, and consequences of human actions. While investigating these topics, the emphasis has been placed on literary devices that the author employs, including metaphors and irony.
Frost, Robert. “A Question”. A Witness Tree. Robert Frost. US: J. Cape. 1943. 45. Print.
Frost, Robert. “The Road not Taken” Mountain Interval. Robert Frost. US: Henry Holt, 1916. 9. Print.
Bloom, Harold. Robert Frost. US: Infobase Publishing, 2003. Print.
Robert Frost “The Road Not Taken” Literature Analysis Research Paper
Robert Frost is a prominent poet of his time. Creating the masterpieces of literature, this person could not even imagine that his creativity is going to be so touching and impressive. There are a lot of different interpretations of Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” that it is easy to appear in the situation that one cannot understand what the poems are about.
At the same time, having read several interpretations, it is possible to consider the ideas which are more relevant to the theme the author wanted to deliver. Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is the presentation of human consideration of life paths from different perspectives depending on the age of a person.
Therefore, Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is the interpretation of the author’s vision of a youth, middle age and an older age of a person who makes decisions, stating that youth and older age are the most emotional periods while during the middle age people are the most reasonable in their choices.
Author’s Consideration of a Poem
Many critics tried to connect Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” with his personal life, searching for the most incredible issues there, however, according to Frost, who tried to explain the poem himself, it was rather complicated from what it was seen from the first sight. Frost tries to make sure that his poem is correctly understood and writes many letters to critics and even publishes a poem.
In a letter to Miss Yates in April, 1925, Frost says that the final words are rather puzzling for the reader as trying to tease the audience the writer creates an impression that the author is sorry for the life he has lived, however, this is not really so (in Finger 478). Moreover, to make sure that all the readers who are interested in Frost’s poetry get the correct vision of this piece of writing, he writes the explanation in prose “The Constant Symbol” and publishes it in the Atlantic Monthly.
Two paragraphs of the explanation are read as “a metaphorical gloss of the poem” (Eisiminger 114). The author wants to assure the public that he does not regret about the life he has lead. The poem is absolutely about other things. The author presents the example of the President in the White House, a person who has achieved much and does not want to live another life, however, he is interested about what would be if the circumstances were different. This is exactly about Frost’s life and prose (Eisiminger 115).
Poem’s Content and Principal Theme
Therefore, the main theme of the poem is not the regret about life but different perspective of life which may be followed in different age periods. Being young and inexperienced, people are usually more emotional and the ways they choose are considered absolutely different, and they believe that they are offered a plenty of choices (George 230). Frost writes
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there (Frost 10).
It seems that the author has chosen the path which required more attempt to go through it. It seems that the author has chosen they way which was more complicated. However, the nest passage sates that “both that morning equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black” (Frost 10) meaning that looking at the situation from the middle-age perspective, a person sees the situation more objectively (Bassett 43).
Finally, the last lines inform the reader that “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — / I took the one less traveled by” (Frost 10) meaning that with age a person again becomes emotional and cannot consider the situation objectively (George 231). Therefore, it ay be concluded that he main idea of the poem is to show how a person’s vision of the life evolves with age, when time passes.
Poem’s Form and Structure
The poem consists of four stanzas five lines each. The first three stanzas of the poem provide the reader with the comparative analysis of the younger personal identity with the middle age ones. The last stanza is a vision of the situation which happened with a young person from the perspective of an older personality.
Therefore, the whole poem is the vision of one person at the situation being in different age groups. The main purpose of this logical structure is to show the aging of a person and the changes which occur in the perception of life. The whole poem has nothing to do with regret and the form and structure of telling supports this idea.
Personal Response to the Poem
As for me, a poem is a great example of how people should behave and how people are to see their lives. First, when having appeared in the situation people are to choose the way which seems less investigated, people should choose the way which is not chosen by others or others do not choose it due to its difficulty.
This slight difference is not seen in the middle age as people in this age lack emotional aspects and they become more practical. I see how people of the middle age make decisions, they refer to facts and practical appropriateness of the decisions, while younger people also pay attention to intuition and other emotional aspects.
The final stanza is the most important, as for me. It presents the vision of the life from the perspective of lived years. Only in this age people can look at their life and try to imagine what would be if they chose another way, another pass. And looking at their lives, those who achieved something, those who in youth chose more difficult path (as they believed), they saw the difference, they understood that in case of another choice they would not be proud of their destinations. Therefore, I am sure that the poem may be considered as the example of the human growth both in age and in mental perception of the world.
Thus, Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” is a great example of human development, the example how people who have achieved much view at their lives from the perspective of time. Moreover, the poem is a little tricky that confuses the reader making him/her think harder.
It is not the statement of the regret about the past. Vise versa, the poem is the vision of wise people of the possibilities of their lives and the analysis whether those possibilities were used or not. Reading this poem one should think about his/her personal life trying to understand at which position he/she appears now and where there is a possibility to change something, if necessary.
Bassett, Patrick F. “Frost’s THE ROAD NOT TAKEN.” Explicator 39.3 (1981): 41-44. Print.
Eisiminger, Sterling. “Robert Frost’s essay ‘The constant symbol’ and its relationship to ‘The Road Not Taken’.” American Notes & Queries 19.7/8 (1981): 114-116. Print.
Finger, Larry L. “Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”: A 1925 Letter Come to Light.” American Literature 50.3 (1978): 478-480. Print.
Frost, Robert. The Road Not Taken, Birches, and Other Poems. New York: Coyote Canyon Press, 2010. Print.
George, William. “Frost’s The Road Not Taken.” Explicator 49.4 (1991): 230-233. Print.
The Road Not Taken: A Noteworthy Poem
One of his most noteworthy poems composed everything being equal,”The Road Not Taken” Everyone is a traveler, picking the ways to pursue on the guide of the persistent adventure of their future life.
There will never be a straight way that leaves somebody with a solitary bearing to head. Notwithstanding, the message that Robert Frost had planned to pass on, his poems “The Road Not Taken”, has left numerous understandings for his perusers. It is one’s past, present, and his frame of mind with which he views his future. Regardless notwithstanding, this sonnet unmistakably shows Frost conviction that the road one picks that makes him the man he is now. It is constantly hard to settle on a choice since it is difficult to meander what opportunity lies at the opposite end .
As much as he squints his eyes to perceive how far the road extends, inevitably it outperforms his vision, to the point where he can not see where the street will lead. The manner in which he picks here that sets him off on his adventure.
The traveler “then took the other, similarly as reasonable, and having maybe the better cases” (frost, stanza 2, line 1). What radiated the better case is that “it was verdant and needed wear” (stanza 2, line3). Clearly he needed the way with less wear, because most of the other individuals took the other way in this manner calling it “the one less gone by” (stanza 3, line 4). The reality the traveler chose this way over the more traveled one, demonstrates the kind of identity he has. It is one that likes to be a pioneer and not an adherent. This current person’s identity is the sort that likes to investigate and grow past it’s cutoff points.
His testing identity saw the leaves that made the progress. His choice was made on which way he would take when he put forth the expression since the time they had fallen “no progression had trodden dark” (stanza 2, line 7). Maybe Ice does this in light of the fact that each time an explorer results in these present circumstances point they need to settle on a choice, something new, some place they have never been.
He communicates the longing to travel the two ways by saying “I kept the first for one more day” (stanza 2, line 8). Anyway the speaker understands his choice is a perpetual decision promptly, in any case, he appears to repudiate his own judgment “However with respect to that the going there/Had worn them extremely about the equivalent.”
The writer seems to suggest that the choice depends on proof that is, or verges on being, a figment.
The logical inconsistencies proceed. He chooses to spare the first, (maybe) more voyage course for one more day however then admitted he probably won’t be back .
The broadly cited lines, “I took the street less gone by, And that has made all the difference.”(Frost stanza 3, line 4), truly lastingly affect the group of onlookers.
The explanation behind this I accept is the relatability of the circumstance. In spite of the fact that we attempt to settle on the ideal choice with life and decisions there is dependably the other street in the fork. Each decision has an option. A man’s life is only a stroll through a twisting trail with forks around each turn regardless of where you are in life.
The Beautiful Poem The Road Not Taken
Throughout our life, there are always times when we have to make some decision . This is part of our nature as humans.But we have to be aware that each thing we choose has consequences (having several options, choosing one implies leaving the others on the table). This is what economists call “opportunity cost . “
In a certain sense, it could also be said that every decision that one makes opens a path for us, and closes others. And many times when we choose a path we do not have backtracking: there is no way to go back.
All this comes to the case, because many times as humans we make decisions without knowing our other options – without being aware of them. And in addition, on the other hand, many have, unfortunately, implications or financial consequences.
A simple example of all this can be a person who spends his working life without saving a single peso for his retirement. He is rarely aware of what it implies. And although popularly it is said “it’s never too late to start”, the reality is that many times it is. And there is no way to return time.
What I like most about this poem, besides the beautiful language, is the end that personally seems to me very powerful:
Two roads diverged in a forest, and I
I took the least traveled,
And that has made all the difference.
Personally I have many examples of life that give account of it, and although it sounds repetitive, I will emphasize it: many times I have taken the road less traveled and this has made a huge difference.
Let’s go back for a moment to the same example that I mentioned before: the person who spent his working life without saving for his retirement. Unfortunately, this is the most traveled path not only in Mexico but in the world, due to the lack of financial culture (and many other deficiencies that a large part of the population has).
But also the busiest road is:
- Spending more than we earn , or not knowing or spending our money.
- Do not protect what we have – in countries like Mexico less than 10% of households have insurance against damages, despite being relatively cheap (much cheaper than insuring the car).
- Not protecting our family ( not even leaving a will or our records in order).
- Do not invest wisely – there are stories of people who saved their entire lives, but unfortunately, it is not enough for them to have the retirement they dreamed of failing to adequately invest those resources.
- Not knowing what you want or expect from life , and do nothing to change our situation .
In short, there are many more examples of this, but the important thing is to understand that we are the ones who make the decisions, and we can make a difference in our lives.
For this reason it is very important to promote financial culture in our country , and for that reason I have dedicated myself to do my bit to achieve it.
To finish this note, next I transcribe , by Robert Frost, complete and in its original language. I also risk including a Spanish translation right away, as a service to my readers who do not speak English, which may be subject to much criticism but it is my best effort.