Comical as "The Road Not Taken" may be, there is serious matter in it, as my reading of "The Constant Symbol" is meant to suggest. "Step-carelessness" has its consequences; choices—even when they are undertaken so lightly as to seem unworthy of the name "choice"—are always more momentous, and very often more providential, than we suppose. There may be, one morning in a yellow wood, no difference between two roads—say, the Democratic and the Republican parties. But "way leads on to way," as Frost's speaker says, and pretty soon you find yourself in the White House. As I argue throughout this chapter, this is the indifference that Frost wants us to see: "youthful step-carelessness" really is a form of "step-carefulness." But it is only by setting out, by working our way well into the wood, that we begin to understand the meaning of the choices we make and the character of the self that is making them; in fact, only then can we properly understand our actions as choices. The speaker vacillates in the first three stanzas of "The Road Not Taken," but his vacillations, viewed in deeper perspective, seem, and in fact really are, "decisive." We are too much in the middle of things, Frost seems to be saying, ever to understand when we are truly "acting" and "deciding" and when we are merely reacting and temporizing. Our paths unfold themselves to us as we go. We realize our destination only when we arrive at it, though all along we were driven toward it by purposes we may rightly claim, in retrospect, as our own. Frost works from Emerson's recognition in "Experience":
Longfellow's tone in this passage is sober, even somber, and anticipates thesame qualities in Edward Thomas, as Frost so clearly perceived. ElizabethShepley Sergeant had insisted that Frost's dream encounter with his other selfat a crossroads in the woods had a " subterranean connection " withthe whole of "The Road Not Taken," especially with the poem's lastlines:
The Road Not Taken Analysis Stanza 1 Summary
The poem ended, the boys "applauded vigorously," and surely Meiklejohncongratulated himself just a bit on making the right choice, taking the less traveled roadand inviting a poet to join the Amherst College faculty.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost Flashcards | Quizlet
Convinced that the poem was deeply personal and directly self-revelatoryFrost's readers have insisted on tracing the poem to one or the other of twofacts of Frost's life when he was in his late thirties. (At the beginning of theDante is thirty-five, "midway on the road of life,"notes Charles Eliot Norton.) The first of these, an event, took place in thewinter of 1911-1912 in the woods of Plymouth, New Hampshire, while the second, ageneral observation and a concomitant attitude, grew out of his long walks inEngland with Edward Thomas, his newfound Welsh-English poet-friend, in 1914.
Mark Richardson: On "The Road Not Taken" | Modern …
From the beginning, when it appeared as the first poem in (1916), many readers have overstated the importance of "TheRoad Not Taken" to Frost's work. Alexander Meiklejohn, president of AmherstCollege, did so when, announcing the appointment of the poet to the school'sfaculty he recited it to a college assembly.
Mark Richardson: On "The Road Not Taken" You are here: ..
Two lonely cross-roads that themselves cross each other I have walked several times this winter without meeting or overtaking so much as a single person on foot or on runners. The practically unbroken condition of both for several days after a snow or a blow proves that neither is much travelled. Judge then how surprised I was the other evening as I came down one to see a man, who to my own unfamiliar eyes and in the dusk looked for all the world like myself, coming down the other, his approach to the point where our paths must intersect being so timed that unless one of us pulled up we must inevitably collide. I felt as if I was going to meet my own image in a slanting mirror. Or say I felt as we slowly converged on the same point with the same noiseless yet laborious stride as if we were two images about to float together with the uncrossing of someone's eyes. I verily expected to take up or absorb this other self and feel the stronger by the addition for the three-mile journey home. But I didn't go forward to the touch. I stood still in wonderment and let him pass by; and that, too, with the fatal omission of not trying to find out by a comparison of lives and immediate and remote interests what could have brought us by crossing paths to the same point in a wilderness at the same moment of nightfall. Some purpose I doubt not, if we could but have made out. I like a coincidence almost as well as an incongruity.