“The Road Not Taken” or “The Road Less Traveled”
“My poems - I should supposed everybody’s poems- are all set to trip the reader head foremost into the boundless. I have had the habit of leaving my blocks carts chairs and such like ordinaries where people would be pretty sure to fall forward over them in the dark. Forward, you understand, and in the dark,” –Robert Frost
“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost is one of the most popular poems in America; it is also one of the most confusing. The poem was first sent to Frost’s friend, Edward Thomas, under the original title of, “Two Roads.” According to biographies, Frost had been inspired by Thomas himself over his apparent habit of regretting whichever path they took during their walks in the countryside. Frost saw this as a, “what might have been,” dilemma. Frost’s original intent was to tease Thomas for this habit. However, what occurred was Thomas sending Frost a note in which he admired the poem’s speaker and essentially, overanalyzed the poem. Thomas also took the poem with a positive tone. This over analyzation continues to occur even today. The poem is often mistaken as the, “Road Less Traveled,” implying that the focus be on the decision to take the option many people do not choose. However, the poem is, “The Road Not Taken,” and touches on the path not taken and the regret that comes with it.
Looking at the poem itself, there are four stanzas consisting of five lines. The rhyme scheme follows an ABAAB sequence. From the title, the reader is promised a choice. Onto the first stanza, the reader is given the facts in a cause and effect way, “Two roads diverged in yellow wood/ And sorry I could not travel both…” This image gives the reader a choice or according to David M. Wyatt of Choosing Frost, the burden of a choice. Wyatt touches on, “an anxiety generated by it, so deep as to be obscure. Precisely because this possible divergence confounds so broad a range of fears,” (Wyatt). Wyatt touches on the effects of the decision between the two roads by referring to the poem as having a negative tone. He refers to the choice between the two roads as a burden, this is thought to be one of the most compelling choices that the Western imagination could muster.
The first stanza introduces a process of examination, at least one road has been, “looked down,” we then in the second stanza, gaze down at the other road, “then took the other, just as fair,” (Frost). This stanza, as well as the third stanza are important in that we seemingly jump from stanza one to stanza three. The moment of choosing has been passed over, we are already on the road. Wyatt asks, “why do so many readers fail to experience this surprise?” This is because each reader experiences the poem differently. They interpret or misinterpret the poem. “In the moment of decision, we leave as much behind as we find to carry with us,” (Wyatt). Simply put, when faced with a decision, we leave certain inhibitions behind, yet f...