Every day we are influenced by a multitude of internal and external forces, and many of
those forces shape us to be who we are. Robert Frost, Walt Whitman and Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow have each written poems that discuss the forces that impact our characters. Despite a few differences in perspective, each of them contributes to the idea that there are moments and experiences as we age that mold us to be who we are.
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is a reflection of one’s choices in life. It begins
with a description of a traveler at a crossroads in a forest. One path has a bend in the
undergrowth a short way down, and the other is grassy and enticing to walk on. Both paths have
been traveled by others, yet he says that there are fresh leaves that haven’t yet been stepped on. After his analysis, he is required to make a choice. With a sigh, he chooses the path less traveled, but claims that his choice “has made all the difference.” This poem is a brilliant metaphor for the impact of an individual’s decisions on their outcome. Frost showed how the best option for others may not be the best option for you through the speaker’s choice of the “path less traveled.” This philosophy can be applied to nearly any stage in life’s journey. For example, If you are offered two jobs, where one offers high pay in a field that you loathe and the other is less profitable but more enjoyable, it is up to you to weigh the benefits and make your decision with no regrets. Through this metaphor, Frost demonstrates how such choices build into where you go in life.
Walt Whitman presents a similar topic in his poem,”There Was A Child Went Forth.”
Rather than honing in on our choices, Whitman focuses on external forces that mold our life
stories. He introduces his main character as a child, and says that,“...the first object he look’d
upon, that object he became, And that object became part of him…” The streets, houses, birds
and horizons where the boy lived all poured into who he was. Upon further inspection, Whitman
never mentions anything...