Robert Lee Frost is one of the most recognized and prized American poets. On March 26, 1874 Robert was born in San Francisco, California. His father was a writer and his Scottish mother was an educator.
When Robert’s father passed away in 1885, his family relocated to Salem, New Hampshire. His mother began to teach at a local high school and Robert enrolled in the school.
His first poetry was published in his school newspaper. He met his sweetheart, Elinor Miriam White, in high school and they graduated together in 1892. After he graduated he went to college at Dartmouth, but he was not fond of the college life. So, he decided to return home and work with his mother at her school and in the town mill. He published his first professional poem in the local newspaper in 1894.
In 1895, Robert and Elinor got married and in 1896 their first child was born. They named him Elliot. The year after, Robert enrolled in college at Harvard and worked to earn his teaching certification. In his sophomore year he became sick and left college, soon after, in 1899 he conceived another child with Elinor, named Lesley. In 1900, his first born child Elliot passed away suddenly.
After some time, he and Elinor went on to have three more children together. Eventually, around 1912, Robert decided to give up teaching all together and take time to travel with his family and focus on his writing. Elinor wanted to travel to England and Robert wanted to go to Vancouver, so after they flipped a coin, they ended up journeying to England. He continued to publish his literature in England and eventually he and his family returned to America in 1915 and bought a farm in New Hampshire.
He continued to publish more works and in 1921 he became poet in residence at Michigan University. Throughout his life he always maintained a close bond with college students, as a visiting poet and as an educator. In 1924 he was the recipient of several honorary degrees, soon after he received his first Pulitzer prizes for poetry.
In 1938 his wife passed away and Robert decided to sell their house and move to Boston, Massachusetts. For the next three years, he taught at Harvard and eventually decided to buy a farmhouse in Vermont. In 1960 President Kennedy requested for Frost to recite a poem at his inauguration, which was a great honor for Robert. Robert Frost died on January 29, 1963 as a grandfather of 11 and a great-grandfather of 13.
“The Road Not Taken” was published by Robert Frost in 1916. The poem is told from the narrator’s perspective about how he stumbles upon a split in the road while traveling on foot through a yellow wooded area. He contemplates each path and determines that both are similarly well-used and tempting. After selecting one of the paths, the narrator says to himself that he visit back to the split in the roads in the future so he can see where the other road may lead.
Quickly, he becomes aware of the fact that he will probably never have the time to come back to the specific fork in the roads, because his selection of the path he takes will guide him to other splits in the road and other choices. The narrator finishes the poem in a sentimental way, pondering how life could have been different if he had decided to journey down the other path.
The first and second lines of the poem talks about how the narrator is traveling on foot and reaches a point in the road where the two paths come to a fork. He quickly comes to the reasoning that he cannot take both paths and must decide which one he will take. These two distinct paths symbolize two different ways of life. The description of the woods being yellow hint to the fact that the season of the poem’s setting is autumn.
Lines 3, 4, and 5 discuss how difficult it is for the narrator to decide which direction he wants to take. He desires to go down both paths, which is impossible and he stands there at the fork pondering for some time. He looks as far as he can down the paths to try and figure out where they lead. This symbolizes a person guessing at what their future may hold depending on the decisions they make.
Although he tries hard, he cannot see past the growth and foliage. Much like a person’s life, they cannot always determine what lies ahead for them. In lines 6, 7, and 8 the narrator refers to the path not chosen as being fair and equal to the one the he decided to take. Then the narrator decides to check the other path because second guesses his first choice and chooses to take the path less traveled, full of grassy growth, and a desire to be traveled on.
In the lines 9 and 10 the narrator realizes that the path he chose is just as worn down as the first path that he was going to take. A first he assumed that his first path of choice was more traveled and as he walked down the second one he soon found that it is just as worn as the first. Lines 11 and 12 the narrator still focuses on the fact that both paths are extremely similar, he begins to either drift into imagination or a flashback.
He thinks about how it was hard for him to choose if the path he has set on is the real road that he walked down that morning. He cannot decide which path is the right one because there is not a trace on the paths that prove a traveler has walked on them before. In lines 13, 14, and 15 the narrator tells himself that he will save the first path for another time in his life. He understands that paths eventually lead to other paths and over time a traveler will end up far from where they began their journey.
Internally, the narrator knows that no matter where life leads him, he will never actually be able to return to the fork in the road and take the other path. The poem is not really about a road at all, it is about life choices and the point of the poem is every choice has its own ups and downs. This poem tells readers that essential life decisions are not always going to be what they are. People often determine their decisions on the consideration of what they think could happen in the future.