The Road Not Taken
Boundaries, Limitations, Relationships and Isolation in Mending Wall, The Road Not Taken and The Gift Outright
Communication and Isolation. Relationships and Barriers. Limitations
`The twentieth century was to witness an explosion of poetry in America. The traditionalist search for a past and precedent was to be maintained. The reader is confronted with work that negotiates between the solidity and the subversion of the moral self and poetic structure, the pursuit of form, discipline, and the impulse towards fragmentation, doubt`. (Gray 373-374)
This is the way in which Richard Gray describes the 20th century cultural atmosphere characterized by doubt, by innovation but also a return to past and traditions, a return to the simplicity of the rural life. And so does Robert Frost in his poems.
Robert Lee Frost, 20th century American poet and a four time Pulitzer Prize winner, was born in San Francisco in March of 1874. Although born on the West Coast, he is usually associated with New England in his poetry. To have a career as a modern poet he felt obliged to go abroad, taking the voice of a simple England farmer and using simple comprehensible words and scenes to depict high moral issues that a 20th century man confronted with.
Themes like isolation, final limitations of a man and human relationships marked Frost`s poetry and are heavy explored in poems like Mending Wall, The Road Not taken and The Gift Outright. The isolation of the individual is widely described in Mending Wall in which Frost’s illustrates man’s necessity for barriers to isolate themselves from their `neighbors`. In The Road Not Taken the author present the final limitations of man, as a simple human being with one chance, with one life only. The purpose of my essay is to analyze Frost`s poems Mending Wall, The Road Not taken, and The Gift Outright to highlight the contrast between communication and self isolation and between human relationships and boundaries/barriers of the individual and twentieth society seen through Robert Frost`s eyes.
Mending Wall is the first poem in Frost’s second book of poetry, “North of Boston,” which was published upon his return from England in 1915. While living in England with his family, Frost missed the farm in New Hampshire where he had lived with his wife from 1900 to 1909. He associated his time in New Hampshire with a peaceful, rural sensibility that we can find in his poems.
The poem can be seen as an autobiographical poem: it is said that Frost had a neighbor in New Hampshire, named Napoleon Guay, with whom he often walked along their lands and repaired the wall that separated them. We can reach at the conclusion that Frost uses a simple, rural context, the annual mending of the wall to highlight a more general theme, the metaphor of the wall as the totality of self-limitations and boundaries that a living human can’t live without.
Mending Wall describes two neighboring farmers who live in isolation from one another. Frost uses the word ‘gaps’ to describe the holes in the wall. This word could also stand for the ‘gaps’ that the neighbors are placing between each other. ‘No one has seen them made or heard them made'(l. 10) but somehow the gaps naturally exist and are always found when the two get together.
The spirited discussion of the poem bears witness to its moving evocation not only of the two characters, but also of the paradoxically linked themes that their conflict dramatizes: neighborliness and isolation, open-mindedness and prejudice, dependence and independence. (Kemp 14)
Some others sub themes that are found in Mending Wall are the nature of a society, human relationships and physical and emotional barriers. Frost shows the way in which people interact, how they function as body. For Frost, the world is often one of isolation.
`Its title is revealingly ambiguous. Mending can be seen either as a verb or an adjective. The verb refers to the activity that the speaker and his neighbor perform in repairing the wall between their two farms. As an adjective the word refers to the wall and serves a more subtle function: as a mending wall, it keeps the relationship between the two neighbors in good condition`, justifying the author`s affirmation in his essay: “Education by Poetry” (1931), Robert Frost says: `Poetry provides the one permissible way of saying one thing and meaning another`. Starting from here we can always presume that Mending Wall may lead us to more than one path: one familiar, one more subtle. )
In the poem there are two distinct characters having different ideas about what good neighbor really means. While attacking his neighbor`s lack of open-minded amiability, the speaker is the one who exhibits antisocial tendencies. He is quick to think the worst, presuming that the farmer`s concern with the wall is motivated by base selfishness, despite the latter`s expressed interest in being. (Kemp 21) Despite his skeptical attitude, the speaker is even more tied to the annual tradition of wall-mending than his neighbor. His skepticism may be an attempt to justify his behavior to himself. Presenting himself as a modern man, far beyond old-fashioned traditions, the speaker is really no different from his neighbor: he also agrees with the concept of property and division, of ownership and individuality.
But truly, the speaker has mended the walls of his personality, and rather than combating an opponent, attempting moral or philosophical sallies, and worrying about victory or defeat, he has again taken an observer`s approach to his neighbor. (Kemp 24) Although the speaker considers himself a modern man, above his simple neighbor, he does not try to help him with understanding the real significance of the wall. He does not fight him also, even though he does not agree with him. He keeps everything for him, he internalizes and so he only manages to `mend` the holes of his personality rather than fixing his problems and evolving.
The location of the neighbor is described as ‘beyond the hill’ and even when he tries to get closer he remains far away, another phrase suggesting isolation. The neighbor seems to ‘move in darkness /not of woods only and the shade of trees (l.41 – 42). Darkness represents his inability to communicate and relate with others.
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors` (l.45), highlighting the idea that the wall is crucial to maintaining their relationship. The poem has a circular form, it begins and it ends with the same line.
The first line of the poem is notable because it functions as a counterpoint to the farmer`s apothegm, which appears once in the middle of the poem< l. 27> and then again in the final line. His reiteration is an appropriate ending of the poem because it completes a cyclical pattern to which the speaker has no rejoinder and from which he cannot escape. (Kemp 18)
The presence of the wall between the properties creates a solid relationship between the two neighbors. The division maintains their individuality and personal identity as farmers.. The act of mending the wall happens every year and represents the perfect opportunity for the two neighbors, members of a stray, rural community to interact and communicate with each other, an event that might not occur in an isolated environment. This action allows the two men to develop their relationship.
The poem highlights both the dual and the complementary nature of human society. The rights of the individual are confirmed upon other individuals` rights; the act of the mending of the wall represents a good excuse for the speaker to interact with his neighbor.
Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken describes a traveler in the woods when he arrives at a fork in the road and hesitates while deciding which path to take. This decision seems to be irreversibly, I doubted if I should ever come back (3rd stanza, l.5). He realizes that the two paths are essentially the same, resulting in an ironic “sigh” at the end.
The Road Not Taken is an allegory about life choices and their consequences. It describes the speaker contemplating upon past decisions. The symbolism of the poem shows an individual that chooses a path, a direction of his life that has irreparable consequences. Although it may seem an obvious poem, The Road Not Taken is opened to multiple interpretations. The Road Not Taken is an ambiguous poem that allows the reader to think about choices in life, whether to go on the crowded path or go it alone, on a `less traveled path (4th stanza, l.4). If life is a journey, this poem highlights those times in life when a decision has to be made.
According to Robert Frost himself, the poem ‘is tricky, quite tricky’. In a letter, Frost claimed, “My poems… are all set to trip the reader head foremost into the boundless.` The poem does not trip readers simply to tease them — it aims to launch them into the boundless, to launch them past spurious distinctions and into a vision of unbounded simultaneity.
Frost played with the differences between the human capacity to connect with one another and to experience feelings of profound isolation. For the author solitary individuals wander through a natural setting and encounter another individual, an object, or an animal, a forked path. Moments of revelation are discovered in these times in which the speaker realizes her or his connection to others or the ways that she or he feels isolated from the community. Themes like the figure of the wanderer and the changing social landscape of New England in the twentieth century appear in Frost`s poems. The poet, like a solitary traveler, was separated from the community, which allowed him to view social interactions, as well as the natural world, with a sense of wonder, fear, and admiration. (https://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/frost/themes/)
In the early twentieth century, the development of transportation and industry created the “tramp,” the person who lived a simple lifestyle on the outskirts of the community, looking for work in a rapidly developing industrial society, highlighting the idea of isolation from society and boundaries and creating the historical and regional background of Frost`s poetry.(https://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/frost/themes/)
In the Road not Taken, Frost analyzes life`s different possibilities and observes human limitations regarding the decision between the two paths. The speaker can only pick one road, at the end selecting the one not taken because the individual has only one life, this being the final limitation of a human being. That person influences his future, becoming responsible for his choices and, at the same time he can never return to the past and change it. Life may turn out successful or not but her is always a regret when one wonders how would have been if he had taken another path, living other experiences.
The last poem, The Gift Outright received special attention when Frost recited it at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. It shows the idea of crossing lines and overstepping boundaries as the best way to create the identity of a nation and gain culture. Americans ‘outright’ gave their abilities to a country that was expanding its border towards the west: `[The poem] alluded to American history, especially in relation to England, and it explores the American Dream in terms of the promise of ownership of the land. [..] The earliest promises of America were based on the idea of fresh opportunity – to escape from the oppression of history to a virgin land where one could make oneself anew. had come to mean prosperity and possession of the land`. (Bloom 59)
The poem opens by describing the American the possessed the land–before they also belonged to the land–partly because the people were controlled by their English masters. Ownership of the land was denied to them by England and because they did not give themselves to the land in the spiritual and physical union how love demands. These limitations were overcame when Americans realized they had to give themselves in an act of passionate surrender, for to give oneself ‘outright’ means to do so immediately and totally, as lovers do. (Mordecai, https://www.modernamericanpoetry.org/dashboard
` (l.13th line) suggests the condition of rootlessness and culturelessness of newcomers adrift on a continent, derivated from and secondary to a land they were still possessed by. They were capable neither of witnessing nor adjusting to the new place, to the new condition since those had not yet, and perhaps never did, came together for them (Bloom 64). The colonists in America initially struggled to connect with the land because of their ties to England. English colonists were not Americans when they first lived on the land. The colonists were still under the barriers and limitations of the English law, art, culture, tradition, and beliefs. Over time, they managed to make a commitment to the land and establish their identities as Americans because of their efforts to build a culture that was not based on European traditions. Frost ignores the original “owners” of the land: the Native Americans and the conflict between them and the colonists, focusing on the confrontation between the Old World of European tradition and the New World of American freedom and dreams. This fact may highlight the limitations of Frost`s perception towards society and the period that he lived in.
To conclude with, in Robert Frost`s poems the question of boundaries, limitations, relationships and isolation can be approached in many ways. In one context the barriers are accepted just the way they, in other contexts those limitations seem to represent the motivation that encourage the people to overpass them to gain freedom and to create their own identity.
Frost’s formulations is frequently used to address the universal difficulty of moving beyond the borders of our daily lives, whether imposed at the edges of the nation-state, inscribed in our social relations, or inferred within the formal dimensions of a poem but also the need to overcome our limits to evolve and experience the consequences of our choices. Frost’s deep ambivalence about fences and borders is a useful step in any political and aesthetic movement forward.
- Bloom, Harold. The American Dream. The Gift Outright, Bloom`s Literary Criticism, 2009, Web 13 January 2019
- Cox, James M. `Robert Frost. A collection of critical essays. Marion Montgomery, Robert Frost and His use of Barriers, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1962, Web 12 January 2019
- Cox, James M. `Robert Frost. A collection of critical essays. Winters, Yvor. Robert Frost: Or, the Spiritual Drifter as Poet, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1962, Web 12 January 2019
- Gray, Richard. `A History of American Literature`, Weiley-Blackwell, A John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Publication, Cambridge University Press, 2012, Web 12 January 2019
- Holt, Rinehart and Winston. `Complete Poems of Robert Frost`, Mending Wall; The Road Not Taken; The Gift Outright, 1994, pp 47-48; p. 131; p. 467, Web 12 January 2019
- Jason. Philip K ‘Mending Wall – The Poem’ Critical Guide to Poetry for Students Ed. eNotes.com, Inc. 2002 eNotes.com 12 Jan, 2019
- Kalaidjian, Walter. ` The Cambridge Companion To American Modernism`, Cambridge University Press, 2005, Web 12 January 2019
- Kemp, John C. `Robert and New England` The poet as a regionalist, Princeton University Press, Cambridge University Press, 2005 Web 12 January 2019
- Mordecai Marcus. The Poems of Robert Frost: an explication. Copyright © 1991 https://www.modernamericanpoetry.org/dashboard, Web 13 January 2019
- Philip L. Gerber.Philip L., Robert Frost, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. January 10, 2019, https://www.britannica.com/biography/Robert-Frost, Web January 13, 2019
- SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Frost’s Early Poems.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2002. Web. 12 Jan. 2019. https://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/frost/themes/
- Vincent, Caitlin. Jordan Reid Berkow ed. ‘Robert Frost: Poems “The Gift Outright” (1941) Summary and Analysis’. GradeSaver, 12 May 2009 Web. 12 January 2018
Analysis of the poem The Road Not Taken
As my favorite poem, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” leaves a long-lasting impression on me. The first time I came across it, I was amazed by its profound meaning. This poem describes a universal situation — the necessity of making a choice or decision, which faces anyone without exception. Looking back at the past, a considerable number of people express regrets about wasting time, choosing the wrong occupation, not spending enough time with their loved ones, or other conditions. Prior to reading the poem, I was often overwhelmed by feelings of regret, which were detrimental to my motivation and productivity.
The turning point came in this poem, which highlights the significance of focusing on the present rather than the past. Nobody can redo the past, owing to which the only way is to optimize the available resources to lead a fulfilling life. Accordingly, it is more beneficial and meaningful to sustain a positive mental state and turn out superior performance. Positivity, perseverance and diligence, which are the defining characteristics of successful figures, are what make a miracle and differentiate an individual from others. This realization transforms me from the prior confused, pessimistic and unconfident person into a goal-oriented, optimistic and resolute one. Specifically, it is the light guiding me out of darkness, the sunshine enabling me to foster a healthy mental state and the teacher enlightening me to become learned.
The most salient change is my cultivating a more determined mindset which sticks firmly to the chosen decision without being easily shattered by the external factors.
The other inspiration is the importance of reflective thinking. Reflection is pivotal for learning from the events actually happened, avoiding making similar mistakes and discover areas in need of further improvement. From my perspective, the original motive of creating the poem is not to convey a pessimistic message that people always regret. Instead, Frost may intend to encourage us to draw lessons, improve themselves and make desirable changes for the future.This inspiration guides me to be reflective, critical and thoughtful, thereby fully taking advantage of opportunities. In the contemporary teeming with multiple ideologies, values and pursuits, we are rather vulnerable to various choices and roads. Under such context, reflection, and critical can considerably assist us to take the most appropriate strategies.
Review Of The Road Not Taken By Robert Frost
In stanza one, the speaker realizes that it is unlikely that he will ever have the opportunity to come back to this specific point in time because his choice of path will simply leas to other diverged road and other decisions, after choosing one of the lanes he tells himself that he will come back to this diverged road one day in order to try the other road. The speaker comes upon diverted path while walking through yellow woods, he ends up wondering and thinking what would’ve happen if he chose the path that’s taken more often than the less worn. He concedes both paths are equal.
Stanza two discusses when he first saw the two diverged roads, the paths are describes as radically the same, in terms of beauty, both lanes are equally decent. He uses the road as a metaphor for life, he mimics it as our lives a path that were walking through a vague journey.
In stanza three, the audience is presented with there was once moderate doubts in his heart if this was once the route to his destination and if it will ever carry him back home. While most of us cease to the doubt and pick out the convenient track. He explains both his fear and dedication to journey on a new route.
In stanza four, the poet reveals that in years he will be telling people that he made the right decision thus he didn’t regret anything or did the choice that he made had an impact on his life. The main idea that the poet wants to convey to his audience is that everyone has to make a difficult decision in life and that it’s made forever. The poem talks about a vicious circle where if he makes a decision he knows that he can’t come back from.
The road diverged or split apart perhaps, he felt sorry for himself for not taking both, where he stands there trying to make settlement to which road he should take. He wants to go down both lanes but he stood there looking at the less worn path where the grass is growing and flowers growing underneath looks both ways and He chooses the less experienced path where he wants to go out and to explore the world. He couldn’t make up his mind so he thought that if he took the one less traveled he will still end up in the same place where he wanted to be caused after all they’re both equal. Therefore people should always make the right decision by thinking of the consequences and what may happen in the future as well as you can always try different option.
One line in the poem that affected me was “ because it was grassy and wanted wear ,”he was trying to tell us that it seemed like people take the easy way out rather than going on a different lain and that it hasn’t been walked on. because sometimes people don’t like change and some do, they like to challenge themselves more or is a risk taker, by that making a really tough decision A line in the poem that surprised me was “I took the one less traveled” he tells us that he took the one less traveled moreover he said it looked “less worn” or wanted wear but actually both roads were both equal. People tend have different perspective and ideas and by that it means they are trying to challenge themselves by taking an opportunity to go out and explore more. Reading this poem could help me in the future in several ways. For example, people get really frustrated when it comes to making really rigid decisions and sometimes you’ll need someone to push you a little to get your mind set on the right decision that maybe you wanted to take.
Follow your heart and make it your decision
The greatest gift we have been given is our ability to choose. Everyone is a passenger in this life, who chose which roads to follow on the continuous pathway. Life is not a straight path with a single direction. Maybe the most perplexing road that we would encounter is a crossroad. All we have to do is to trust on ourselves, make the decision, and believe that we are going to choose the best option.
The poem “The Road Not Taken”, by Robert Frost, is a descriptive poem about a person who has to make a decision between two different directions. Both roads diverged in a yellow wood. One road was fair and having perhaps the better claim, it was grassy and wanted wear. The other was less traveled by. He had to choose the right path to take throughout life, and this choice can affect him forever. The speaker of this poem is faced with the dilemma. He regrets that he can’t follow both roads, but he pauses for a long while to consider his choice, and he makes the best decision by taking the best road, the one that no one has chosen to take.
He made a decision and there is no turning back. The traveler in the poem chooses a path to follow for the future, and he tries not to look back on the other direction that he left behind. “Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back” (14-15). He chooses “the one less traveled by” (19), and he is not going to return to where the roads diverge. He is able to make his own decisions and his own mistakes, and move forward accordingly by learning from them.
I can say that everyone can find themselves in this poem. As human being, we should have the strength and the knowledge to be able to make intelligent, reasonable decisions in our lives. We have to take all the time we need to do so because that decision can affect our entire life. The biggest decision that I have ever made till now was when I decided to leave Albania and continue my studying in America. In Albania it is difficult to find a job after you graduate; you have to know people that can help you or you have to pay to get a job. Yes, it was the best decision that I could make, but it has been difficult for me to be so far away from my family, my friends, and my relatives. It has been hard because here almost everything is different from my country, the way of living, the culture, the people, and the food. Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. So I chose to move on, be hopeful and optimistic like everyone else has done in order to achieve their goals. Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.
A Deconstructive Reading Of Robert Frost’s Poem “The Road Not Taken”
A deconstructive reading of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” reveals that the road not taken doesn’t make any diﬀerence at all. High schools have been using this poem to motivate students for decades, but what teachers and students never seem to notice is that both roads are essentially equal; therefore there is no moral to the story about the road less traveled making all the diﬀerence. Also Frost ‘s another poem “Fire and Ice” that commonly people say it is about the end of world, can be summed up from the ﬁrst line that written by “Some say the world will end …” Continued by the contents that show how it will end. If this poem is observed in details, it will show how Roberts Frost deconstructs about the end of world.
Deconstruction itself is refusing of logo-centrism that centers the hierarchy in a binary opposition of a sense or meaning. A sense or a meaning cannot be limited by a sign, because the sign just descends the real meaning. Therefore, deconstruction is a way of reading text with the result that text cannot sign a meaning in a hierarchy or single truth (Ratna, 2004:222, Al-Fayyadl, 2005: 68, Norris, 2006:14).A deconstructive reading of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” reveals that the road not taken doesn’t make any diﬀerence at all. High schools have been using this poem to motivate students for decades, but what teachers and students never seem to notice is that both roads are essentially equal; therefore there is no moral to the story about the road less traveled making all the diﬀerence. Did Frost make a fundamental error in his poem or did he deliberately write the last line in a clever attempt of chicanery to winnow out the scholars from the masses, or is he commenting on the illusion of independence, freedom, and originality in American society? I suspect the latter but that is a thesis for a diﬀerent essay. Also Frost ‘s another poem “Fire and Ice” that commonly people say it is about the end of world, can be summed up from the ﬁrst line that written by “Some say the world will end …” Continued by the contents that show how it will end. If this poem is observed in details, it will show how Roberts Frost deconstructs about the end of world. Brieﬂy, to the title of “Fire and Ice”, it looks like a binary opposition like black and white, men and women, hell and heaven, demon and angel, and bad and good. Robert Frost deconstructs this binary opposition of ﬁre and the opposition. The aim of this paper is to investigate these binary oppositions through these two important poems of Robert Frost.
In Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” the central tension in this text is conformity versus nonconformity. This binary opposition is the key to the text’s main ideological framework, that nonconformity, or taking the path less traveled, is the desired choice in having a better life. However, the underlying theme of the poem, that taking the route to nonconformity is the best choice, it is also an illusion skillfully administered by American society; both paths are essentially the same, but Frost makes himself believe that they are diﬀerent and one is more correct than the other and that it has “made all the diﬀerence”. The same goes for American society, whose pave-your-own-way philosophy rests on the ideology of nonconformity and individualism. We like to think that we are being independent, free, and original-three hallmarks of American ideology and what it is to be an American-but in eﬀect it is all an illusion to make ourselves feel better, to make nonconformity, which is Frost’s point in the poem.
For example, as the narrator in the poem comes to a fork in the road and has to choose between two paths and looks carefully at both of them before making his decision, he accedes that both of them are “just as fair” and that those passing through had “worn them really about the same” and that both of them “equally lay”. Look as hard as he might, and “long he stood”, he really could ﬁnd no diﬀerence between the two paths. However, he tried to convince himself (or his audience) that they were diﬀerent paths in order to justify his choice and to make it seem as though he took the more diﬃcult yet more rewarding one. He wrote that he took the other path because it had “perhaps the better claim/Because it was grassy and wanted wear” but to be truthful he had to go on to admit that “though for the passing there/had worn them really about the same” so he tried to justify his choice but couldn’t quite do it. However, by the end of the poem the narrator has convinced himself that he made the ideal choice by saying that he took the one less traveled by, “and that has made all the diﬀerence”. There is no contextual evidence in the poem that shows that one of the paths was less traveled than the other. When the narrator tried to compare them he couldn’t admit to there being any signiﬁcant diﬀerence, so by the end of the poem he just asserted a falsehood; that he took the one less traveled by. Frost illustrated and challenged the artiﬁce of the ideology of nonconformity being the privileged binary opposition by showing (through the narrator in his poem) that it is so ingrained in society that it is better to make yourself and others believe that you have taken the more diﬃcult and original route than to admit to being ordinary and following in the footsteps of countless others. His narrator conforms to this ideology by trying to convince himself and his audience that he took the ideal, the “less traveled” path in order to save himself the humiliation of admitting that he didn’t do anything particularly interesting, original, or diﬀerent from what others would have done. Another, less important binary opposition present in the poem is temporality versus permanence. The narrator is acutely aware of the fact that he can only choose one path and cannot go back and take the other path because even if, as he tried to experiences leading up to that decision. Although the narrator knows that (hence the long deliberation at the beginning of the poem before ﬁnally choosing a path) he tries to tell himself that he can always go back and take the other path as well. Therefore he is attempting to immerse himself in the illusion of permanence-that he could always go back and take the other path if the one he chose turned out not to be of his liking. In American society there is an ideology that if a person doesn’t like their career or chosen path, they can always go back and change it. Although it is true that one can always change career paths or choices in life, it is not possible to go back in time to change a decision; the experiences, personal feelings at the time, and the moment itself cannot be relived. At the end of the poem the narrator says that the decision he made in choosing one particular path over another “has made all the diﬀerence”. However, how could he know that it has made all the diﬀerence when he could not go back to that exact moment in time and take the other path? We like to think that we have made the right choices in life based on what our lives are like now, but we cannot truthfully make that assertion because we cannot go back in time and relive all the alternate possibilities to successfully determine whether or not we have, indeed, made correct decisions. Therefore, the narrator illustrates the artiﬁcial ideology that not only can we make truthful assertions about the correctness of the decisions we have made in our lives, but also that we can go back and change the decision if it turns out to be undesirable.
“”Fire and Ice” is also Frost ‘s another poem that commonly people say it about the end of world. It can be summed up from the ﬁrst line that written by “Some say the world will end …” Continued by the contents that show how it will end. If this poem is observed in details, it will show how Roberts Frost deconstructs about the end of world. Brieﬂy, to the title of “Fire and Ice”, it looks like a binary opposition like black and white, men and women, hell and heaven, demon and angel, and bad and good. Robert Frost deconstructs this binary opposition of ﬁre and the opposition. If looking at the binary opposition, it can be known that “Fire” should opposite with “water” not the “Ice” because “Ice” itself is the water that reaches the minimum of temperature. Shortly, “Ice” is the alteration of water while for the “Fire” only has a form of “Fire” itself. Fire that has very high temperature will keep being “Fire”, because it has no the other of form. Based on it, paradigm of binary opposition of “Fire and water” has moved to “Fire and Ice”. Continuously, in binary opposition, there is always one thing that is hierarchy. This hierarchy is considered as the center or ordinate while another is subordinate. However, this hierarchy is not totally the center. Based on the concept of decentering of Derrida, center is not singular but it is plural. In other word, decentering is structure with no center and hierarchy (Ratna, 2004: 225). In “Fire and Ice”, the hierarchy or the center is in “Fire”. “Fire” is powerful, symbol of brave, identical with red. Red is a symbol of brave. “Fire” is like men that are more powerful than women are. Women are as “Ice” that is powerless. However, in this poetry, this hierarchy is moved to the other. The other here is the “Ice”. The “Ice” itself is not very powerful than “Fire”. Both of them can destruct the world. “Some say the world will end in ﬁre, Some say in ice” (Line 1-2). This means that both of them can destruct the world. “To say that for destruction ice, Is also great And would suﬃce” (Line 7-8) here shows “Ice” is also great. The word of “also” means the similarity and it does not mean it is more powerful to destruct. It ﬁnally shows that the center or the hierarchy of destruction the world is not only the “Fire”. It moves to the “Ice” while the “Ice” itself is not the only thing that destructs the world because it has same power with the “Fire”. Next, the word of “FIRE” here implies in perishing or ending the world and it is compared with the “ICE” that has same power. It must be more than the “Fire” commonly, because “Fire” is commonly compared with water not “Ice”. To sign “the thing” that can destruct the world, water can become “ICE” while “Fire” will keep being “FIRE” to destruct. In this case, “ICE” is more powerful than water while “FIRE” is more powerful than “Fire”. Looking at the word of “FIRE” (powerful ﬁre in this poem that destructs the world) and “Fire” (commonly), it shows how weak the sign of “FIRE” here. The sign of “Fire” itself never changes although the power, the temperature increases to destruct. It will be keep being signed with “FIRE”. It means that there is no other sign to explain the “FIRE” whereas the “FIRE” here has the other that is unsaid and is not revealed through any signs. The other here is the power to destruct the world. In other word, sign has limit or is very limited to show the real sense. Sense is always free and unleashed with sign because sign cannot hold all of the real sense up. Therefore, meaning indirectly exists in a sign. Because the meaning is attributed in text, so the rest is trace. Trace is considered as absence of presence (Ratna, 2004:226). When the word of “FIRE” is erased, then the meaning of it will always exist in memory, the memory of the ﬁre’s power. This is known as term of diﬀerEnce/diﬀerAnce. It is from the word of to diﬀer and to defer (delay). Derrida (Ratna, 2004:226) relates space and time to the signiﬁer and the signiﬁed. It means that the signiﬁer is the representative of the signiﬁed or the thing. This signiﬁer represents the presence that is delayed. In this case, “Fire” that has power to destruct the world is signiﬁed with “FIRE”. The sign of “FIRE” here does not perfectly represent the “Fire” that destructs the world. There is something that is unsaid clearly in the sign such as ﬁre with full of power, power with full of pain, pain that can perish, and many realities. These unsaid things are the presence that is delayed. Then, the meaning of “Fire” that destructs the world has diﬀerent thing. This diﬀerent thing is the presence that is always delayed. The presumption of those does not emerge with oﬀ hand; it also purposes to show about destruction that is caused by it. In hierarchy opposition, “Fire” always places itself as the hierarchy of breaker, desolation, dangerous. Through inter-text way, it can be proven the hierarchies of it. Inter-text itself is linking a text with the other texts (Ratna, 2004: 172). Devil is always identical with ﬁre in all of mythology, Shidarta is asked to walk through ﬁre path to test his proper power as Buddha before entering the world (ﬁre is the symbol of desire of human that will destruct the world). The “Ice” is closer to impression of cool and fresh that contains of pleasure than destroying. In Islam and Christian, there is belief of Hell and Heaven, where Hell is the place to punish the bad people with ﬁre while Heaven is pictured full of pleasure. In this poem, those assumption does not exist anymore; “Fire” is not totally as the hierarchy of destruction, it seems as if doing shift to the “Ice”. “To say that for source of destruction moves to the “Ice” as the source of destruction. All of these are ﬁnally concluded, deconstruction is a thought that is used to reject against logo-centrism. Derrida, with concepts of decentering, trace, and diﬀerence/diﬀerance has shown the weaknesses of structuralism where there must always be a center and a meaning can be signiﬁed in a sign. This thought also can be used to analyze the literary works, one of them is poetry.
Poetries of Robert Frost always show a deep understanding and deconstruction. One of them is “Fire and Ice”. In “Fire and Ice”, Frost tries to give assumptions that the most dangerous thing of desolation world is not only from a single hierarchy. In this poetry, Frost gives two things that will end the world, “Fire and Ice”. Although, “Fire” is identically considered as the hierarchy of destruction than “Ice” but in this poetry, Frost delivers that it is not only from “Fire”. It is also from “Ice” that can destruct the world. The position of them is same to end the world. “The Road Not Taken” also reveals that the road not taken doesn’t make any diﬀerence at all. ? We like to think that we have made the right choices in life based on what our lives are like now, but we cannot truthfully make that assertion because we cannot go back in time and relive all the alternate possibilities to successfully determine whether or not we have, indeed, made correct decisions. Therefore, the narrator illustrates the artiﬁcial ideology that not only can we make truthful assertions about the correctness of the decisions we have made in our lives, but also that we can go back and change the decision if it turns out to be undesirable.
Meaning Of “Carpe Diem” in The Road Not Taken, A&P and Araby
Carpe Diem- seize the day; enjoy the present, as opposed to placing all hope in the future. Those who want to take a big bite of life and just run with it usually express this term, instead of worry about the future and what it holds. Besides, the future is molded by what we do today, right? Three pieces of literature we have discussed have this “carpe diem” connotation throughout the lines of their stories. Robert Frost’s, “The Road Not Taken,” John Updike’s, “A&P,” and James Joyce’s, “Araby,” all three portray their motives through their actions within the plots. Although the chain of events that happen within these stories/poems seem as if things are not going as expected, with a little mind-digging, you can find their intentions shown by their actions.
First, Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” has a very good portrayal of seizing the day. This poem is all about going with your gut feeling and not worrying about everyone else. Where they are headed in their future is of no significance to Frost. Instead, he, “Then took the other, as just as fair, and having perhaps the better claim, because it was grassy and wanted wear.” This clearly shows that as opposed to taken the road most travelled, knowing where it isgoing, he chose to take the road less travelled, off into content oblivion. In some cases, this is what one should do when faced with a decision. They think where today will take them instead of scaring themselves into what may or may not happen tomorrow.
Second, John Updike’s, “A&P,” only has a glimpse of capturing life, but evidently shows one who is apart of the system, but breaks free from it’s chains. Sammy is approached by attractive young women in bathing suits while checking out groceries in a grocery store. As his manager implies the stores policy of being fully clothed in front of many other customers, Sammy immediately disagrees with his boss’ public conviction of the girls in their bikinis. Sammy’s urge to forfeit his manager’s idea of “policy” results in his voluntary termination of his part time job. Sammy briefly satisfies that urge to seize the day by smoothly and fluently exiting the building. Although he partially regrets that decision, at that time he had to grasp that moment and run with it.
Lastly William Carlos Williams’, “The Dance,” catches a big glimpse of life and celebration as it describes a picture named The Kermess, painted by Pieter Brueghel. “Kicking and rolling about the Fair Grounds, swinging their butts, those shanks must be sound to bear up under suck rollicking measures, prance as they dance,” this passage paints a picture itself as it describes the lively celebration of who knows what! For all we know, they could be celebrating anything, but the amount of excitement we perceive shows the characters don’t seem to be too worried about tomorrow, but rejoicing that they are alive in the present. This poem exclaims a bold statement by describing the exhilarating fun of celebration in the present day.
In conclusion, Carpe Diem means to release all worry of tomorrow and just live out today as if it were your last moment in life. All of these poems and stories have that recurring motif designed to help you realize that what happens today is what matters and the future will unfold itself as time goes on. To some, it’s unhealthy to be intensely apprehensive about what’s going to happen tomorrow, so they choose live today with no worry or regret. Everything happens for a reason, therefore we must take hold of life and know that what doesn’t kill us will make us stronger.
The Poem The Road Not Taken: How To Choose A Right Road In Life
Did I Make the Right Decision?
There comes a point in everyone of our lives where we are forced to make a life changing decision. Making decisions is what impacts us in the present and structures our future, as it may be known that sometimes, a bad decision can lead to regrets. In the poem “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, Frost needs to decide which “road” will help lead him to success or he will possibly live a life of disappointment and dismay. Frost has shown that the decisions we make should be chosen carefully because not only will it affect our choices in the future, but there is no going back. Throughout this poem, Frost has addressed the idea of making decisions in a mournful way. The rhyme scheme of the poem is ABAAB that portrays a strict but masculine rhythm. In “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost uses metaphors, imageries, and the structure of the poem to tell the reader that the road we choose in life might be wrong or right, but it will make all the difference in their lives.
In Robert Frost’s Poem “The Road Not Taken,” Frost uses metaphors to convey the deeper meaning of decision making and eventually accepting the aftermath. Frost describes how “Two roads diverge in a yellow wood”(Frost 1). The “Two roads” are invented to symbolize a hard choice in life that must be made and the consequence the decision will portray on his future. The narrator looked down one as far as he could “To where it bent in the undergrowth” (Frost 4-5). Frequently when people have to make hard decisions, they try to imagine the outcomes of each of the choices. Moreover, no one can truly predict his or her future and usually in the end, their approaches are not always beneficial. Likewise, when a decision is made, one must accept the path without looking back and thinking what would have happened if they decided on the other path. Frost wrote how the decision he made to travel “the road less traveled” had changed his life and made all the difference whether or not for the best. The metaphor of “the road” describes the final line of the poem and how the narrator has gone through the decision process and now cannot turn back or change the past.
From the very first line in the poem “Two roads diverge in a yellow wood” (Frost 1), us readers immediately get the sensation that we are there witnessing everything that is going on. This poem, like many others of his, shows Frost’s strong correlation with wildlife and nature. A key visual imagery is “the morning” meaning that the narrator of the poem is starting out on his journey. “This symbolizes a still young-man, with many choices ahead, making one of his first major life decisions in life” (enotes.com). As the day continues, he looks back on “the morning” and thinks about his decision wondering if it was completely worth it. The first three stanzas’ of the poem is the narrator trying to explain to the readers his side of the story and the very last stanza of the poem, the narrator tells the readers that he chose the path that was less walked on to make it seem like he was adventures with his decision; yet us readers know that both paths were equally used.
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost has been the subject to very different interpretations of how the speaker feels about his situation and how the reader is to view the speaker. For me, this poem had never really spoke to me until I got to college and had to make all sorts of life changing decisions. The biggest decision I have made in my life so far is what I want to major in. Choosing a major means that you have to dedicate all your time and effort into one thing that you’ll be doing for the rest of your life. I had the struggle of having to choose between journalism and molecular cell biology. After a year of going back and fourth, I finally chose molecular biology. I did as Robert Frost wrote in his poem about seeing the different out comes of both sides and which one will help you in the long run. I really hope I made the right decision but I wont know until I try.
The Process of Decision Making in The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Every aspect of one’s life is determined by the decisions he makes. Some are life altering, such as deciding what college to go to, while others are inconsequential, such as deciding what to have for breakfast in the morning. Whether they are big or small, these decisions are what progresses one from day to day, week to week, and year to year. In his poem “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost examines the process and affects of such decision making.
First of all, there is a dual meaning associated with the symbol of the road in this poem. Literally, Frost is describing two tangible roads that someone must physically walk down. Obviously the reader knows this from the vivid imagery Frost gives when beginning the poem with “two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (Frost). The reader is given a mental image of a fall forest with two roads disappearing in to the trees, but, as always, there is an underlying meaning, and it is implied that these roads are not totally physical. In actuality the entire poem is focused on the narrator’s decision regarding which road to travel and the consequences that will come as a result of his choice which emphasizes the claim that Frost is trying to make. He uses the concrete example of the two roads in order to highlight the basis of decision making in one’s life and how every decision one makes affects everything else from there on out. Terry Andrews writes that the popularity of this poem is due to the “simplicity of its symbolism” and that Frost sees choosing between the two roads “as a metaphor for choosing between different directions in life.” Andrews is right in saying that this is a simple connection that can be made about this poem, but although the symbolism may be easy to understand, the underlying development of the metaphor is what really composes the poem.
Although they lead to two different places and they wind down two different paths, in reality, each road is ultimately the same. They each have pros and cons associated with them, meaning that for every asset one road carries, the other has one equally as beneficial. The narrator asserts that travelers before them “had worn them really about the same” (Frost), revealing that although one may have grass while the other does not, they have both been equivalently traveled for the most part. When making a decision, it is important to grasp the fact that whichever one is chosen is going to have just as many advantages as the one being left behind. A decision would not be a decision if that weren’t the case. If something is easy to decide and there is nothing else for it to compete against, then it is not a decision. He also writes that when he is observing the two paths they “equally lay in leaves no step had trodden back” (Frost). Basically, the narrator is saying that both paths are covered with leaves that haven’t been crunched by the foot of a traveler, which shows that neither path has been taken in quite some time once again proving their equality. This also reenforces the fact that the narrator, who is the new traveler, is starting from scratch and gets to make the decision by himself and himself alone. Throughout life there are many decisions to be made that no one else has had to make before. When this time comes, it is important to realize that both decisions have their own advantages and disadvantages, essentially making either one a favorable choice. Dan Brown writes that “Frost seems to want things both ways in this poem” since it is obvious that he is faced with a struggle while trying to make up his mind. This is the classic you-can’t-have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too kind of situation. As nice as it would be to reap the benefits of both roads, sadly the narrator is unable to do so; therefore, it is important to spend an ample amount of time visiting with the advantages identified with both options so as to make the best choice.
Decisions take time, especially for the kind alluded to in this poem: a life changing one. Frost touches on the fact that every possibility must be weighed when making a decision. The narrator fully acknowledges the first path and writes that he stood there and “looked down one as far as I could,” (Frost) which shows that he was truly pondering that path and trying to soak up all it had to offer. When one is in the process of making such an important decision, it is crucial to go over all the benefits and downfalls of each, which is exactly what he is doing here. It is obvious that the narrator is being pulled in both directions. He spends a decent amount of time observing the first path, while on the other hand he is drawn to the second path due to its unworn nature. The narrator says that he took the second path due to its grassiness and comments that the path “wanted wear” (Frost) The alliteration used here draws specific attention to this phrase and the personification of the path that he ends up taking. Attributing this physical need of “wanting wear” to the path somehow gives a sense of validation for the narrator making the decision he made. It’s almost as if he feels sorry for this path because it appears to have been neglected by travelers before it.
There is a sense of regret throughout Frost’s poem. Accompanying every decision are the opportunity costs one gave up when they decided against the other option. The title is a dead giveaway with how the narrator views the decision he made. The poem is entitled “The Road Not Taken,” emphasizing the road that was not chosen. Due to the title, before one even reads the poem there is an emphasis put on the alternative decision and the one that the narrator did not choose to make. One critic, Jennifer Bouchard, writes that this title “emphasizes the mystery that surrounds the choices that people make; specifically, the path not chosen” (Bouchard). She makes a good point in highlighting the fact that there is a sense of mystery surrounding the choices that people make. No matter who or what tries to influence a person, the final decision is in the hands of the one making it, which will always leave others pondering the choice made. At the beginning of the poem he tells the reader that he is “sorry [he] could not travel both” (Frost). This shows that he is admitting that each path has a great deal to offer, so picking one to travel down will cost him the benefits of the other and vice versa. Simply put, it is impossible to have your cake and eat it too. As nice as it would be to experience the benefits that both choices have to offer when making a decision, that is quite impossible. In the last stanza of the poem, the narrator admits that he is “telling this with a sigh” (Frost). When someone is sighing while telling a story or revealing something about themselves, it comes with the grounds that they are not necessarily completely content with the decision they made at the time. The tone that this phrase creates and the exasperation associated with the narrator’s voice at this point go to show that the right decision is not always going to be chosen. No matter what one does or how much time one spends on making a decision, sometimes it just isn’t going to go as planned and there isn’t much to do about it. Frost finishes the poem with the narrator divulging that choosing the road that he chose “has made all the difference” (Frost). The narrator says this with a longing, nostalgic approach, as if he is wondering what would be different in his life if he had made a different decision. After making an important decision, it is completely natural to have this sense of speculation about what could have been.
There is quite the domino effect associated with decision making. Almost every decision made in one’s life will affect the next one he makes. Once the narrator has made up his mind, he is at a point of no return. When discussing his decision he mentions that “way leads on to way” (Frost), meaning that when he chooses that specific road, it will lead on to the next one, and the one after that, and so on. When one stands at a fork in the road during his or her life and is forced to make a choice, the one that he or she chooses will influence every other decision from there on out. The narrator also adds that he “doubted if [he] should ever come back” (Frost). The narrator is restating the fact that once he chooses one road and heads on his way, he will never be able to come back and head down the opposite road. When a life altering decision has been made, there is no going back and changing your mind. The uncertainty shown in the narrators words and tone at this point also reiterates the sense of regret that he feels.
Overall, Frost’s poem deeply reflects the developments and consequences of decision making on the life altering level. Life would go no where without the decisions people choose to make day in and day out. Every decision reaps its own benefits; they take time; regret will always be a some kind of issue; and every single decision affects the next one from there on out.
Personal Essay: The Road Not Taken
My educational and personal background can be summarized by a famous poem by Robert Frost called The Road not Taken. The poem ending statement reads “Two roads diverse in the woods, and I took the one last traveled by, and that has made all the difference”. In life, there are multiple roads and sometime the path that we embarks on might not always be the one that we choose. Situations in life will push and stir us in many different directions but we must learn to adapt and react within our environment. My college journey in which I will reveal was filled with many bumps, detours, and road stops.
The destination of my journey was not always clear but I knew that I had to keep moving forward and the experience along the ways has made all the difference in my life. I started my college career at the University of South Florida majoring in biomedical science with the aspiration of becoming a physician. During my freshmen year of college as I started to become acquainted with college life, my mom nail salon business began having financial difficulties requiring me to find a full-time job. I attempted to balance both my school and job workload, being a full time student during the day and working the night shift at local gas stations. Although I tried my best to manage both my academic and financial obligations, I knew it wasn’t sustainable and took a hiatus from school knowing that it would only hurt me academically. Several years later, I got married and was able to find a decent job at International Labs, a pharmaceutical company, and work my way up the corporate ladder. I embraced the new pharmaceutical environment that I was in but knew that I had to continue my education if I wanted to advance my career. Once again I committed myself to attending school and now with the support of my wife, I was able to finish my bachelor degree in 2014. Although it took me a lot longer than I expected to complete my undergraduate education, I consider it one of my greatest achievements as I was able struggled through it and gave a major part of my life for it. I had never heard or knew anything about South University until I was informed by my wife as she was attempting to get admitted into the nurse practitioner program at the Tampa campus. My first impression of South University was very shocking to me as I wasn’t aware of the flexible class scheduling that the school offered and their willingness to accept me given my low GPA. With the help of my admission and academic advisor, I was able to enroll in the MBA program in January of 2017. I decided to take the accelerated route as I knew I was behind the ball curve due to my lengthy undergraduate.
Although at first I was advised not to take the accelerated route, I knew deep down that I could do it and needed to prove it to myself. If I could take anything away from my imperfect undergraduate experience, it would be that it didn’t matters how smart or good a person is, it only matter how bad they want to achieve it. The knowledge that I received in my MBA program at South University allowed me to learn some of the most innovative and fundamental aspects of any business such as the creation of a business model, the selection of the appropriate business organization, the managing of financials, the marketing of products, and the understanding of why some business fail while other succeed. Some of the highlights of my education at South University were conducting research on real-life situations where many companies were at a pivotal point in which they had to make a decision that impacted if the company survived or not. Several tools that I learned were performing an effective SWOT analysis or environmental scan, implementing strategic plans, and understanding which planning strategy is appropriate for the direction the company is heading.
Examples of some planning strategies would be implementing growth strategies to expand or enter economic markets, outlining stability strategies to maintain the company market share in the economy or to executing retrenchment strategies to downsize or reduce company operation. All these planning strategies are an important part of any business as they are adaptive strategies that ensure the survival of the company in any market. Upon the completion of my Master in Healthcare Administration, I was honored to be part of the Delta Mu Delta business honor society. I embraced and believed in the core vision of the society, “Through Knowledge, Power” as no great work has ever been achieved without knowledge. Knowledge is what empower people in society to accomplish and do great things. With the privileges of being part of something greater than myself and the ability to give back to my community, I decided to accept the secretary position for the Delta Mu Delta Nu Theta chapter. I am proud to be able to cherish my profession which has inspired and encouraged me to pursue my education in the Doctoral of Business Administration.
The reason that I became interested in this doctoral program was that it specialized in both organizational culture and teaching in which I am confident that this degree will assist me in becoming a great educator and leader in any industry. Throughout both my academic and professional careers, I have often encountered several challenges that initially seemed impossible to overcome. Yet through perseverance and handwork, I was able to conquer each obstacle that I encountered. Although I didn’t start out on this path to become an educator, the experience that acquired through my life journey has taught me that all great leaders are teachers. In closing Dr. Ruth Essler, I would like to offer myself as a Ph.D. candidate to your doctoral business administration program. I hope that both my academic and professional experience has made me qualified to be part of your program. Thank you for time and consideration.
An Explication of the Theme of Choice in Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
The two poems written by Robert Frost that are going to be explicated are named “The Road Not Taken,” written in 1916, and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” in 1922. The purpose of the explication of these two poems is to correlate them in order to establish a common theme that they both possess, originating from both of the poems’ individual themes. The theme that I choose to explicate concerns choice, or experiencing a time in life in which a choice has to be made given a set of possible options.
When one is presented with a set of options pertinent to an important choice in life, they explore all of the possible outcomes of the options pertaining to that single choice. This is one of the reasons why it is important to spend time thinking about which option that should be chosen, lest a wrong or unfavorable decision is made. Once the sole option has been decided upon amidst the other options and possible outcomes that are given, a sense of confidence is attained and this instills the ideology into one’s mind that they have made the right choice, and they can now continue unobstructed in life with this positive mindset, knowing they made the right choice, and when it is reflected upon later on in life, the earlier instillation of the ideology—that they made the right choice that time—is still present during the reflection.
The first stanza of Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken portrays a traveler who has encountered a road divergence in which only one of its paths can be taken, in the first line “two roads diverged in a yellow wood.” Being a traveler, he closely examines one of the paths of the divergence, although his exploratory actions as a traveler are explained in the second and third lines of the stanza; “and be one traveler, long I stood… and looked down one as far as I could…” in which he gauges the safety of the path and the possible outcome before coming to a decision for which path he decides to continue on.
Oftentimes in life when a decision for a choice has to be made, people observe the given options in every manner, to see and decide which one would be the best one to make, as the traveler is doing in this case for either of the paths he has the option of taking.
In the second stanza of the poem, the traveler again examines the secondary path and makes his own observations about it in the first line; “then took the other, as just as fair…” in which he concludes that both of the paths are mostly identical.
In the remaining lines of the stanza, he examines how this path of the divergence appears to be slightly more worn (possibly from more people traveling on it) than the other, noted in the second and third lines; “and having perhaps the better claim… because it was grassy and wanted wear…” in which he actually comes to the conclusion that the paths are mostly identical in the fourth and fifth lines of the stanza; “though as for that the passing there… had worn them really about the same.”
It can be inferred that at this point, the traveler is indecisive of which path should be taken, since no decision was actually made at this point in the poem. When deciding upon the choice you want to make with the provided options, examining or observing the characteristics of both options is a key aspect of decision-making.
In the first two lines of the third stanza, it is now known that the time of day is early, that the area still remains as it was previously, and none of the leaves covering both paths have turned black from the constant on-foot traversal of other human beings; “and both that morning equally lay…in leaves no step had trodden black.” It can also be inferred that the traveler is spending a long time thinking about which path he should take, in which the same is done for weighing the options for a choice which has to be made.
In the remaining three lines, the traveler appears to have made a decision, apparently evident in the line “oh, I kept the first for another day!” in which he favors the second path over the first one, and intends to take the first path sometime later or afterwards. The traveler also realizes that they do not want to be exposed to a situation like this anymore, given that they understand the current circumstance; attributable to the phrase “yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.” Essentially, the traveler realizes the path they have chosen in order to arrive to this point (in the poem and in the journey; again, given the current circumstance), and that knowing how things lead to other things [“how way leads on to way”] introduces a doubtable possibility, which would be returning [“I doubted it if I should ever come back”].
In the first two lines of the last stanza, the traveler has finally decided which path they wanted to take in the divergence, and that when they decide to reflect upon this decision they made, later in life, they will say: “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.”
In the very last line of this stanza, the traveler appears to be very content with his decision, and does not hint towards any sign of regression of choice in his words, hence their words “and that has made all the difference.” The aforementioned instillation of confidence is present in the traveler’s words (and mindset) because they do not regret the decision they have made during their reflection upon which choice they decided to make, and could also conclude that the traveler was able to continue in life undoubtedly because they believe and know that the choice they made was the correct one.
In the first three lines of the first stanza within the second poem Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, the horseman is unaware of whose woods he thinks he is currently situated in, although he knows that ‘his’ house is in the village that is more than likely nearby, by saying “whose woods these are I think I know…his house is in the village though; he will not see me stopping here…to watch his woods fill up with snow.” In the last two lines of this poem, it appears that the horseman knows that he has somewhere else to be rather than the forest, and that ‘he’ would not want the horseman spending the night in the forest (despite its beauty), when the horseman should, or has to be, in town.
The horseman’s horse realizes that they are not in town, and that it would be rather odd to stop suddenly without any real reason; in the second stanza’s first two lines “my little horse must think it queer…to stop without a farmhouse near.” The following two lines indicate the setting within the forest, and the darkness for the time of year it is; “between the woods and frozen lake…the darkest evening of the year.” Perhaps this natural setting and the darkness of the day, with the added ambiance of the forest is a reason why the horseman wants to stay and admire the beauty of the forest, but they have one of the options—of a choice—to stay in the forest.
Within the first two lines of the third stanza, the horse realizes the peculiarity of the situation, because “he gives his harness bells a shake…to ask if there is some mistake,” given they are currently sitting in the middle of a quiet forest, on the darkest night of the year, in moderately snowy conditions and far from the nearby village—that needs to be reached. The ambiance of the forest’s quietness is also denoted in the following two lines of the stanza; “the only other sound’s the sweep…of easy wind and downy flake.”
However, in the first two lines of the last stanza, the horseman realizes something—that despite where they are, they remember that they have kept a promise to someone; “the woods are lovely, dark and deep…but I have promises to keep.” It can be inferred that the horseman is currently in the process of upholding this promise to someone, in which he is venturing the nearby town, through the forest, to do so.
The horseman had an option to remain in the forest that night, but they did not do so because they reminded themselves that they have a long journey to complete before they can actually go to sleep (apparently would be best for them to complete it sooner than later) in the village in the last two lines of the stanza; “and miles to go before I sleep…and miles to go before I sleep.”
When comparing the lines from both sets of stanzas within both poems, the aspect of having a choice is present in both of them. In The Road Not Taken, a choice between which road has to be taken is made, and in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, a choice of whether to continue through the forest to get to the town (to rest, presumably) or remain in it for the night (to adore its natural beauty) is contemplated, however the traveler in The Road Not Taken chooses a path to continue on his journey, and the horseman in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening reminds himself that he has somewhere else to be instead of staying in the forest.
Regardless of the circumstances that may arise during the situation of making a choice in life, you are still presented with the given options, and the options of course to examine or observe the possibilities of what you can do in such a situation, i.e. the traveler in The Road Not Taken having to pick a path based from his observations, or the horseman in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening opting to go to town so they could rest (and complete the journey), rather than resting in the forest amidst its natural beauty (and not knowing what could happen overnight).
However, once a decision is made from the given options, the ensuing circumstances or occurrences may either positively or negatively affect the mindset you have towards the decision you made, especially in hindsight or upon reflecting on what was done at that point in time, i.e. the traveler’s words in reflection of his choice of path he made—written in the last lines of the last stanza of The Road Not Taken; “I shall be telling this with a sigh…and that has made all the difference!”
It is more than likely that Frost wants his readers and audiences to recognize these situations in life through means of expressing them his own poetry, which is perhaps why the handful of steps concerning the aspect of decision-making and its effects—especially in life—are poetically portrayed with his own examples, in different forms, in both of these poems.