Robert Lee Frost (born in San Francisco, March 26, 1874 and died in Boston, January 29, 1963) was one of America's leading 20th-century poets and a four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Although his verse forms are traditional, he was a pioneer in the interplay of rhythm and meter and in the poetic use of the vocabulary and inflections of everyday speech. His poetry is thus both traditional and experimental. After Frost's father died in 1885, the family left California and settled in Massachusetts. From 1897 to 1899 he attended Harvard College as a special student, but left without a degree.
Over the next ten years he wrote (but rarely published) poems, operated a farm in Derry, New Hampshire (purchased for him by his grandfather), and supplemented his income by teaching. In 1912 he sold the farm and used the proceeds to take his family to England, where he could devote himself entirely to writing. His efforts to establish himself and his work were almost immediately successful. A Boy's Will was accepted by a London publisher and brought out in 1913, followed a year later by North of Boston. In 1924 he received a Pulitzer Prize in poetry for New Hampshire (1923). He received it again for Collected Poems (1930), A Further Range (1936), and A Witness Tree (1942).
Over the years he received an unprecedented number and range of literary, academic, and public honors. 1 The Road Not Taken Although I must admit that I am not a poetry fan, many of the poems of Robert Frost appeal to me, and this would have to be the one that appeals the most, in other words, it is my favorite poem. When I first read this poem, I liked it because of its free verse style (which I like) and its apparent simplicity, but, after much study, its true meaning became apparent. The obvious basic meaning is that the poem is about a person's choices in life. The narrator describes coming to a problem with the fork in the road. He must go down one but feels he will not be able to take back his decision.
He looks to see the pros and cons of each choice, and then takes the one that he says the least had traveled. He leaves the outcome up to the reader and the sigh at the end can be taken as good or bad. This leaves the reader the choice of deciding whether it is better to conform with society or rebel like Frost did and take up a less stable trade. However, there are many places to which this main interpretation can branch out.
First of all, it is likely that the narrator in the poem was actually Frost. This can be inferred because the narrator took the road "less traveled by". This can also be said of Frost using different diction. Frost had an opportunity to graduate from Harvard twice, but each time turned it down until he was granted an honorary degree after excelling as a poet. The "average" person would probably have just stuck through Harvard the first time around and graduate and then chosen a more stable career. Thus the similarities between Frost and the narrator of the poem can be seen.
The fork symbolizes a hard choice in Frost's life and he can take either the easy way out, or the hard way. Each path to him is the same and he is sad that he can only choose one path, but in the end he takes the one less traveled by or the harder one. Perhaps this poem is meant to be inspirational to young writers. Another viewpoint actually goes towards a more basic meaning. This would be that Frost actually chose one path and took it, whereas many people simply ponder for a long time and still are not quite sure.
Frost exhibits the common human nature of wanting to take both paths at first (ln 13: "Oh I marked the first for another day"), but later admits he "doubted if [he] should ever come back" (ln 15). Thus, the poem's significance is Frost made his decision and picked a road and continued on with his life. The act of taking the road may signify his uniqueness and show his difference; he is constantly moving forward with his life, hardly stopping. But even after all of this, there is one more hidden addition to this poem. Once, while traveling, a person (Frost) came to a fork in the road and could not decide which path to take. Finally he chose one of them due to the fact it seemed as though fewer people had walked the trail, although we can tell from the poem that there was no such difference (ln 9-10: the passing there had worn them really about the same).
The reason for the deceptive appearance is likely due to the perception of various artisans (painters, writers, poets, etc.) that existed during that time (Frost's grandfather first tried to convince him to stop writing and later worried about him all his life and ended up buying him a farm, which Robert Frost sold 1). At that time many people had tried to go into that sector of the workforce, but they ended up being worse off than people who had traveled the better-known road and less influential - those who followed the other part left a better trail to follow. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening If The Road Not Taken is my favorite poem, this would definitely be a close runner up. Frost uses good diction in giving it a very smooth transition from line to line due to its assonance and end rhyme. Although this poem has no direct metaphors or similes, the poem's format and very vivid detail still keeps the reader interested. There are also very few technical features inserted in the poem, the only special addition, (other than the alliteration "dark and deep") like with most of his other poems is the heavy use of symbolism.
Like the previous one, it appears to be very simple, but it has a hidden meaning. Someone who has not read much of Frost's work might think that there is no deep meaning, just that people should stop once in a while and spend time with nature, away from the hustle and bustle of cities, but this, although it is one of the minor points Frost is trying to get across to the reader, is not the main one. This could be considered a flaw, or just a marketing tool to get people to read his other poems. The topic of death in many of Frost's poems is fast becoming a major literary topic found in many books and all over the Internet. In this poem, it could be considered that the narrator is wishing for his own death. This is likely the reason the last line is repeated twice.
It gives the effect of sighing. The narrator wants to rest but he cannot, and the horse and cart are symbolic of this. They are the ones who bring him back to reality: the horse is reminding him to come back ("to ask if there is some mistake" - is telling the narrator to get back to reality) and the cart is what he sill must do (we know he has a cart because of the "harness bells"). Also when he is near the woods, he is far away from the city, and the city is like a synonym for life - and one of the opposites of life is death. Another closely related example of symbolism is "Between the woods and the frozen lake".
The woods are now a symbol of life - a change from the previous example - and the frozen lake, devoid of life, is a symbol of death. The final example of symbolism is an obvious one in which death is compared to sleep. Frost's "difference" (The Road not Taken ln 20) was always in him. This can be seen long before he starts his actual writing career. While he learned to read at a very late age of 14, he had already sold a poem at the age of 15. The road that Frost took was not only the "different" road and the right road for him, but also the only road that he could possibly have taken.
The Road Not Taken and the often-studied Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening "exemplify Frost's ability to join the pastoral and philosophical modes in lyrics of unforgettable beauty"1. Frost's poetic and political conservatism caused him to lose favor with some literary critics, but his reputation as a major poet is secure. He unquestionably succeeded in realizing his life's ambition: to write..