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Analysis and comments on The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

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Comment 212 of 1172, added on September 26th, 2005 at 8:36 AM.

Jan, I know that there has been trouble from WW2. Germans in general dont
love Bulgarians, but that's okay, I forgive you. You know I'm right, so you
might as well give up. By the way I wrote the biography, so I think I would
know. So to you: Eif sprechen mir gutzafeen da!

Joodie from Bulgaria
Comment 211 of 1172, added on September 26th, 2005 at 6:50 AM.

1. If poetry, such as any work of art, cannot be understood or appreciated
without background information, it is simply not very good - it is as easy
as that. Fortunately, Frost's poetry does not belong to that latter

Of course additional background reading can help to support or invalidate
interpretations, but it is no substitute for thorough analysis of the text
itself (as any literary critic worth his salt will tell you).

2) Perhaps you are referring to the biography by Meyers or the one by
Thompson & Winnick (both of which are called "Robert Frost: A Biography"),
but since you have not indicated the author's name there is no way to tell.
I doubt that anyone would be so arrogant as to call their book "Robert
Frost: THE Biography", implying it's the definitive one.

3) The problem with that interpretation is: If it cannot be proven from the
poem itself, it is not a valid interpretation. Creative, for sure, but it
does not have much to do with Frost's poem.

Jan G. from Germany
Comment 210 of 1172, added on September 26th, 2005 at 5:22 AM.

Okay I'll try to help you here. Ill put in oreder according to what you
were talking about.
1. As unfortunate as it is for some to find out, examining poetry will not
help you find out how, why, or by who it was written. All great poets such
as myself know this.
2. Just because you haven't heard of a world renowned biography, it's not
my fault. Look it up at your local library, it's very interesting.
3. My poem is based on the interpretation that I know of, not simply
"examining" as you call it.

Joodie from Bulgaria
Comment 209 of 1172, added on September 25th, 2005 at 10:20 PM.

@Joodie: Let me make a few comments:

1) As I have tried to point out, my interpretation does not rely on
secondary literature (or indeed what I have read on the internet) but on a
close-reading analysis of the poem itself. I got to my interpretation when
I first noticed that much of what is all too often said about this poem did
not add up and only afterwards started to do a little bit of research, just
to find out that my interpretation was in accordance with what I found on
the biographical background of the poem and that I was indeed not the only
one reading the poem like that.

2) Of course there is a lot of garbage on the internet, which is why you
have to learn to distinguish which sites are (probably) reliable and which
are suspicious. If a reputable institution such as the Department of
English of an American university publishes a page, containing lengthy
excerpts from several works of secondary literature (cf.
http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/a_f/frost/road.htm), complete with
bibliographical data, I see no reason to doubt the reliability of the
information given there. The bibliographical data regarding the book you're
quoting, on the other hand, is incomplete (e.g. who is the author?), and
frankly I am not aware of a book by that title - and besides, not
everything published in print is reliable either.

3) As to what you are referring to as your interpretation: You have written
a poem somehow inspired by "The Road not Taken". Nothing wrong with that,
but I don't see where you are taking the imagery of death and physical
failure from, and the (religious?) aspect of being saved is not in Frost's
poem either - unless what you are saying can be proven from the poem itself
rather than from some work of secondary literature, the term
"interpretation" is a bit misleading here (at least in an academic sense).

Jan. G
Comment 208 of 1172, added on September 25th, 2005 at 8:15 PM.

This is to the comments made by Jan G. and Googie. It' called internet,
it's unreliable. If you ever read "Robert Frost: The Biography," you would
know that his girlffriend inspired this poem because she dumped him and he
was very angry at the path she had taken. So stop getting the facts wrong!

Joodie from Bulgaria
Comment 207 of 1172, added on September 25th, 2005 at 4:22 AM.

@googie: You're right that "The Road not Taken" was inspired by Frost's
friend Edward Thomas. However, Frost did not write his poem because he was
disappointed in his friend's choices but because Thomas constantly
regretted his own choices, wondering whether the other path would have been
better after all - which Frost seems to have found quite amusing.

In other words Frost wrote this poem in order to tease Thomas about his
pointless sentimentality - and that is exactly what can be found out about
this poem just by reading it closely and carefully, even without consulting
any secondary material. (Apart from the name Edward Thomas, of course, but
the fact Thomas can be seen as being representative of all people who
constantly reflect about their choices in hindsight is what give additional
relevance to this poem.)

Jan G. from Germany
Comment 206 of 1172, added on September 24th, 2005 at 6:00 PM.

This poem is in fact about Robert and his friend Thomas, also a famous
poet. Robert is sarcastically mocking Thomas. The two went on a walk one
day and came across two paths leading to different destinations in this
beautiful wood that Thomas was so fascinated in. Apparently Robert was
disapointed in the choice made by Thomas and thought the other path was
best. This is the reason why the poem is so famous because of people such
as yourself have all made incorrect assumptions on this poems meaning and
purpose. Research this poem on the internet and know your facts.

googie from United Kingdom
Comment 205 of 1172, added on September 20th, 2005 at 4:58 PM.


Joodie from Bulgaria
Comment 204 of 1172, added on September 20th, 2005 at 3:23 PM.

It really is a shame how many people claim that this is their favourite
poem, even though they have clearly only read it superficially without
making any attempt at thoroughly analyzing Frost's clever lines - thus
completely ignoring his irony.

In the first three stanzas the speaker remembers a walk in the forest,
explaining again and again that, in spite of what he initially says, there
really was no difference between the two roads: The first was "just as
fair" as the second, they were "worn [...] really about the same" and both
of them "equally lay" covered in leaves that had not been stepped on.

In the fourth stanza he says how he will probably talk about this decision
when he is older - and the exaggeration in the words "ages and ages hence"
should be a clear warning signal of the irony that is to come: All of a
sudden there *will* be a distinct difference between both roads - in other
words he will either be lying or simply be sentimental ("with a sigh")
because his memories have been clouded by the years gone by. What is more,
even though his decision to take one road instead of the other does not
seem to have affected his life so far at least he does not say anything
to this effect - he expects that he will make his idealised and embellished
version of the past responsible for the future course of life.

To sum things up, "The Road not Taken" is not about the importance of
decisions in life but rather an ironic comment on sentimental people.
Interestingly enough, Frost's own remarks about this poem support the
points I have made, but frankly, it is not necessary to rely on
biographies, letters and diary entries to come to this interpretation -
reading the poem carefully and digging beneath its surface is all that is

Jan G. from Germany
Comment 203 of 1172, added on September 18th, 2005 at 4:35 PM.

thanx for the info, this is a really good site.

Anna from Peru

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Information about The Road Not Taken

Poet: Robert Frost
Poem: 1. The Road Not Taken
Volume: Mountain Interval
Year: 1916
Added: Feb 1 2004
Viewed: 3763 times

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