In 1916, Robert Frost published a poem called The Road Not Taken. Although there are elements of romanticism, it is still a modernist poem. This poem is about a traveller who goes for a walk in a forest but is faced with a choice of which path to go down; we soon realize that there is a deeper meaning behind the literal meaning. As Robert Frost once said “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
The Road Not Taken is written with a modernist writing style although there are small signs of romanticism in it. Currently the word romanticism means romance and love but back in the late 18th and early 19th centuries it was a popular style of writing. Many romanticism writers cover a range of literature, music, art and philosophy. An example of a book written with the romanticism in Frankenstein by Mary Shelly. Modernist writing is a tradition and sort of old style of writing it became popular in the late 19th and early 20th century. Modernist poets like Frost like writing their own new and different type of poem. Also usually modernists do not write about nature although Frost made nature and the setting have a big part in the surface meaning/inferential meaning. In The Road Not Taken Frost follows the rhyme scheme A,B,A,A,B and it consists of four stanzas of 5 lines each. Although there is a deeper meaning then inferred.
The poem literally is about a traveller that is faced with a choice of which path to go down. The poem starts with a traveller walking on a path in the forest during autumn, although the path diverges and the traveller is faced with a choice. He tried to look down one as far as he could but it bent in the undergrowth. He decided to take the other one, “the one less travelled by”. He realized that both of the paths were the same when it said “Had worn them really about the same”. He took the one less travelled by because he wanted to make his own choice, not follow the other people “And that made all the difference.” The surface meaning of The Road Not Taken is a traveller going for a walk in a wood but then he is faced with a choice of which path to go down.
The Road Not Taken is an extended metaphor of life and choice. There is a deeper meaning then a traveller walking in the woods. It is about fate, life choices and free will. It is about choosing whether you follow the stream or you make your own path in life. When it says “And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;” this symbolises that you can look down one path in life as far as you can but you will not know what will happen unless you take it. “And sorry I could not travel both” this symbolises that in life it is hard to make a choice because you want to make the best choice for yourself. “And having perhaps the better claim,” this means that at first you might think that you have made the right choice but it does not always mean it is. “I doubted if I should ever come back.” This means that once you have chosen you have chosen and you usually can not go back. “And that has made all the difference.” This symbolises that sometimes taking your own path is better than following everyone else. There are lots of metaphors in The Road Not Taken like the yellow wood, the path and the fork in the path. The yellow wood represents making decisions in tough times. The path is a metaphor of life, while the fork is a metaphor of making choices. The structure and language also refer back to the inferential meaning.
Frost wrote The Road Not Taken about his friend Edward Thomas who liked taking long strolls in the forest next to his house. When the war came up in 1914 Frost wrote The Road Not Taken to try drive Thomas off going; although Thomas still went but then he died in 1917 by a gunshot wound. It was set in a wood because they were talking about Thomas going to war while they were walking in the woods. Thomas was a British poet, essayist, and novelist. Thomas liked to write about war in his poems and he also wrote modern poems.
Frost is a modernist poet although in The Road Not Taken there is evidence of romanticism and he doesn’t follow the normal modernist traditions. Although this poem was about a traveller going for a walk in the woods but is faced with a choice of which path to go down, it is actually about fate, free will and life choices. Frost wrote this poem to stop Thomas from going to war. As Robert Frost once said: “No matter which road you take, you’ll always sigh, and wish you’d taken another.”