Robert Frost was an amazing poet with poems that ring out with “autumnal tones of New England” (Charters, 862). Robert was born in San Francisco in 1874 but did not truly begin his life until 1912 when he and his family moved to England and he was able to pursue his writings. Frost has many amazing works of poetry and like most poets, he has many poems that went unnoticed.
The Road Not Taken and Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening both embody the classic Frost ambiance; they are both full of metaphors and symbols that make the poems jump off the page with life. They are exquisite poems that will be carried on for generations. The character in The Road Not Taken is faced with the heavy choice of choosing which path to take and with that comes the choice of his fate. The fork in the road is the main and classic metaphor for the choices we must make in life. Both of these paths are equally unknown and dangerous.
He tries to take comfort in the fact that he will come back and choose the latter another day although the character admits right after he doubts he will actually do so. Frost ends the poem with the character deciding that once upon a time when he retells this story, he will state “[he] took the one less traveled by, and that made all the difference” (Frost, 878). In Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening the character finds himself alone in the snowy wood with his horse, he stops to admire the “woods fill up with snow” (Frost, 879. This character is taking the moment to reflect on the life around him. He too, is faced with the choice of solitude, or returning to civilization to keep his promises. The distant pull of his obligations causes him to continue on his journey so he soon may rest his head in slumber. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” (Frost, 877) from The Road Not Taken and in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep” (Frost, 879) are both quotes that represent the characters decision they have to make.
Both of these poems have strong metaphors for decisions the characters must make. In The Road Not Taken the character must decide which path will lead him to the life he wants. Both paths are “about the same” (877) but he still cannot decide which one truly will make the “difference” (878) in his life. In the final stanza the character seems to be having a daydream of someday in the future when he will tell this story again. But in the story he will tell of the time he chose the path that was in fact the less tread on and because of that one choice, his life became what it is.
In Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening the character is faced with the choice and metaphor of isolating himself and his horse in these woods, or returning to the social demands of his life. Both of these characters are surrounded by similar atmospheres as well. They find themselves alone and contemplating in the woods which are full of life and death. It is no coincidence that Frost put these characters in the season that represents death itself, but strangely enough the characters are analyzing their lives.
In Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening it says “between the woods and frozen lake” (879), the frozen lake certainly represents a comparison to death. Once this lake was full of moving water but once the cold seasons of autumn and winter roll in it freezes over causing nothing but a frozen black slate waiting to be thawed out. In the Road Not Taken it describes his surrounding as a yellowed wood also symbolizing the changing of the season. These characters are confronted with very similar life questions and circumstances that make them question their existence.
Although these poems are very similar they have differences in them as well. The character in The Road Not Taken is faced with the option of two new paths. Both paths will lead him to some new way of life. These paths symbolize the unknown and a completely different lifestyle than the path he is journeying away from. Regardless of his choice, he will be encountered with something unexpected because whatever lies ahead at this point is unfamiliar. However, the character deciding in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, knows what lies with one of his choices.
He can choose the mysterious new life of living in these woods or he can choose the all too familiar life where his promises lie. He knows the town where he was originally heading to has promises he has made symbolizing that he has developed some sort of lifestyle there. But once this idea or temptation of staying in these lovely dark woods has entered his mind, he can’t quite seem to decide which life to choose. Also, unlike the character in The Road Not Taken, this character is not completely alone; he is accompanied by his horse.
His horse “gives his harness bells a shake, to ask if there is some mistake” (879). His horse also symbolizes his prior life and once he gives the bell a shake it almost seems to snap the character back to reality. He knows he cannot stay within these woods and continues on his journey because he knows he has “miles to go before [he] sleep[s]’ (879). I personally enjoyed both of these poems very much. Autumn and winter are my favorite months of the year and Frosts poems usually take place in that sort of atmosphere. His use of imagery is absolutely lovely.
He describes the colors of the woods or the dark deep forest. His poems are simple enough to understand on a basic level but once you begin to dig deeper there is usually so much more underneath the surface. He uses lots of symbols, metaphors and similes to make you think about what he really means. I must admit that I am not a huge fan of poetry and usually dread this genre the most, but I didn’t find Frosts poem to be completely awful. All in all, I very much enjoyed this essay and surprisingly didn’t mind the work.
Kakutani, Michiko, Books of the Times: A Belligerent Poet in a Gentler Light, The New York Times, 1996, New York, © 2012
This was an article written not necessarily about either of the poems I was researching but more just about Robert Frost himself. I did not know much about Robert Frost at all but after reading this and the little biography in our main book I feel like I have a basic knowledge of him now. Lea, Sydnea, Lessons On The Road Not Taken, Burlington Free Press, © 2003
In this article the author basically did a breakdown of the poem. She analyzed it and talked bout each stanza as a whole and also how it worked throughout the rest of the poem. She stated that she was an English teacher in the article so I felt like her diction was easy to understand and not quite so fancy. I really enjoyed this article. Stevens, Clint, On The Road Not Taken, Anthology of American Poets, Oxford, © 2003
I really enjoyed this cite. It had tons of little reviews and other interpretations of the poem. Also, what was really great was that some of the articles had both Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening and The Road Not Taken in them and they compared the two.