Poetry is a literature genre which is, probably, the hardest to interpret. As verses have no actual plot and depict not events, but feelings and emotions, their analysis must rest upon personal understandings which can be rather various. A poem chosen for this work is “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. It is full of colorful imagery and offers satisfying food for thought.
The author is one of the prominent American poets of the first half of the 20th century, thus belonging to the Modernist movement. Frost became famous during lifetime already, and the pieces of literature he wrote brought him four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, which is a great accomplishment and the symbol of total acknowledgement. His verses are distinguished by humanism, referring to general life values; some of them are deeply psychological and philosophical. However, his style is characterized by uncomplicated composition and usage of vocabulary of neutral, even colloquial register, which makes the poet’s writing understandable and admired for a broad readership. The reoccurring topic of Robert Frost is rural life in the USA serving as a background for complex profound nation-wide social processes.
The poem “The Road Not Taken” is in complete concordance with the author’s creative manner. The narrative develops in time, the situation starts at the moment of speaking and continues with poet’s reflection regarding the future. The reader is introduced to two wood roads, both of them are not trodden, hence, equal. The lyrical character weights them both up and hesitates as for which one to choose. Consequently he ventures one of them, which seems to be “less travelled by” (Frost, 1916) and through the perspective of future ages he can assert that it was the crucial choice of his life. It is not specified whether it was right or not, but by the pristine property of the road it is rather clearly implied that it was the path of difficulties and demanded hard work, courage and a pioneering approach. At least there is no regret traced from the emotions of the lyrical character – “telling this with a sigh” refers to retrospective reflection with a tint of melancholy. The poem encourages deep contemplation at the general existential level. It is understood that the roads present metaphors of all the possible life choices. Such a nature reference is very organic and contributes to the imagery of the verse. Equating and comparison of lifespan with roads is one of the eternal topics in literature. Robert Frost’s calm, simple, yet exquisite description of the scenery is what makes the poem last in memory after reading. Author’s intention is to show the way choices are made and their consequences. It is implied that the easier way will probably bring a person less satisfaction and less intense feeling of accomplishment in the aftermath. The audience of the poem is not specified, thus the readership is diverse and broad. Of course, very young readers cannot appreciate all the reserved beauty and simplicity of the artistic simile, but children rarely read adult poetry at all. The symbolism of the piece of literature is reflected in the complex image of the road and wood. Roads present choices, and their curving away and hiding behind the trees is a metaphor for unclear consequences and inability to predict the outcome beforehand. Color distinction of the wood (it is described as yellow), thus reference to fall, might be a symbol of a time in life, for generally autumn is associated with maturity. Although, it should be noted that even the wisdom of an adult cannot guarantee a positive and happy outcome.
The language of the poem is simple, which does not make the verse less efficient in terms of author’s message. Lexical repetitions contribute to the calm and developing flow of narration, and also serve as rhythm and rhyme organizers. The style of the author is traceable from 5-line stanzas, as well as ABAAB rhyme type. As it was already mentioned, time relations of the verse are various and present a broad picture with the preliminary description and the aftereffect.
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost can be considered a life metaphor with the help of which the author describes the complicated phenomenon of decision-making by understandable imagery. The verse is simple, yet cohesive in terms of style and valuable from the point of view of deeper sense layers. The great master of words shows all his skills in this poem, the skills that make him read and admired through decades.