Robert Frost (1874-1963)

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;         5
Then took the other, as just as fair,
and having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,         10
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.        15
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.        20

A Quick Study:
1.  Alliteration is the poetic device in which the first consonant sound of a word is repeated in subsequent words, like in this nursery rhyme: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.  The “p” is the first consonant sound that gets repeated in subsequent words.  Copy out two examples of alliteration from “The Road Not Taken.”
2.  If the two roads that the speaker describes are “. . . really about the same” and “. . . equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black,” why does he say at the end of the poem that taking one of the roads “has made all of the difference”?
3.  What does line 2 of “And sorry I could not travel both” tell us of the speaker’s perceptions of real-world choices?
4.  A symbol is an object or an undeveloped character that stands, like a code, for something else.  Identify at least one symbol in this poem and explain how it is a symbol.
5.  Here is an excellent analysis of the poem.

Mending Wall
By Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn’t love wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:                                 5
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs.  The gaps I mean,
No on has seen them made or heard them made,         10
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.              15
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
“Stay where you are until our backs are turned!”
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,                           20
One on a side.  Its comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.                25
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbors.”
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
“Why do they make good neighbors?  Isn’t it
Where there are cows?  But here there are no cows.    30
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.”  I could say “Elves” to him,           35
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself.  I see him there
Brining a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,                            40
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’ saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

For an excellent analysis of “Mending Wall,” see here.

Responses

  1. Does the narrator in Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’ really make a choice between two paths?


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