The Road Not Taken

Dear Class IX

two-roads-diverged-in-a-yellow-wood

I think, we should begin by reading about the poet, Robert Frost. Do remember, however, that one should not confuse the poet as an actual person with the poetic persona or the ‘I’ of a poem.

In order to know more about Frost the poet, you read his biography. You will find from his biography that Frost often wrote on rural themes with the actual scene as a metaphor of some deeper abstract philosophy. To explore the poetic persona you should read some more poems by Frost. Here are two of his better known poems which bring out the inner philosophy symbolised by a rural landscape:

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

snowy woods

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Mending Wall

mending wall

Something there is that doesn’t love a 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:
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 one has seen them made or heard them made,
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 once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
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 out-door game,
One on a side. It 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.
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.
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,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself. I see him there
Bringing 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~
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, “Good fences make good neighbors.”

I think, both these poems are like stories that describe a scene within the plot.

Now, to come back to your own poem, you should listen once again to the two excellent Reading and Interpretation videos on the The Road Not Taken embedded by RB on your class blog.

Next, here is my own summary of our discussion in class of The Road Not Taken.

Finally, why not see what some other critics say of this poem?

Now you should feel ready to write about:

  • the poem’s theme
  • the poet’s mood
  • the challenge faced by the speaker in the poem

Sanjukta Sivakumar

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