The Road Not Taken: Text and Analysis

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth;(5) Then took the other, as just as fair, And having perhaps the better claim Because it was grassy and wanted wear; Though as for that the passing there Had worn them really about the same,(10) And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. (15)

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. (20) Formalism deals with ‘literariness’ and ’defamiliarization’ aspects. The aspects differ literary from the other kinds of writing.

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In formalism, a poem can be analyzed scientifically by looking at the devices. This paper analyzes The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost by explaining the poetry devices. First, the poem has 4 stanzas and 5 lines for each stanza or quintain so it can be said that the poem has 4 quintains.

All of the lines begin with capital letters and are in the same length, they consist of 9 syllables. The rhyme of the poem is ABAAB. Rhyme is repetition of similar sounds in the end of lines and it helps to unify a poem.

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For example is in the first stanza. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,A And sorry I could not travel bothB And be one traveler, long I stoodA And looked down one as far as I couldA To where it bent in the undergrowth;B The poem has many alliteration. Alliteration refers to the repetition of consonant in the first syllables of a series of words or phrases.

There are some alliteration in the poem such as then took the (6), wanted wear (8), that the (9), first for (13), telling this (16), and took the (19). The alliteration produces an echo effect by linking words through their sounds. Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences. In the poem, there are assonances as follows: wood / could / stood / looked [u-sound as in ‘put’] (stanza 1), And…. travel (line 3) / And… traveler / And… as… as (line 4) [a-sound as in ‘cat’], and sigh / diverged… I [i as in ‘eye’-sound] (stanza 4).

The function of assonance is frequently the same as end rhyme or alliteration, to give a sense of continuity. The figurative language used in the poem is metaphor. Metaphor is an imaginative comparison between two literally unlike things. The metaphor is to show that the choice has an impact to his life. In “two roads diverge in a yellow wood” (1), the persona has to choose between two roads to reach his destination. At the end of the poem, the persona says “and that has made all the difference” (20). The line has implied meaning from the road chosen.

The road makes his life different from all the rest. The poem uses past tense in almost of the whole poem but in “I shall be telling this with a sigh” (16), it is future tense. The transition from past tense to future tense means that the persona will look back to the decision he made. They are two possibilities for looking back: proud or regretful of something. The meaning of word “sigh” suggests the regret of the persona. So, the future tense in this poem shows that the persona will look back to the decision he made because of the regret. The title of this poem is “The Road Not Taken”.

This title directly shows that the persona is regretful of his decision of not taking the other road. The persona looks back at the scene when he was making the choice in front of the diverged roads and wondered about the road not taken. This action shows that he is regretful of the choice he made before. If he has the chance to make the decision again he will make a different one. The regret for not taking the other road shows that the decision of the persona has made impacts to his life. The diction in the poem show that people’s choice will impact their lives.

Diction is the poet’s choice of words to create meaning based on the denotation and connotation of any given word. The word “sorry” in the “and sorry I could not travel both” (2) has a strong meaning of regret; it shows that the persona was regretful before he even made the choice. He knows that he can only choose one or the other. Then, the word “sigh” in the “I shall be telling this with a sigh” (16) expresses regretful and sadness. The persona tells his decision he made at the past time with a facial expression of regret.

Next, the word “difference” in the “and that has made all the difference” (20) has a meaning of changing in his life. From the poetry devices, we can see the literariness and the meaning of the poem. The choice that the persona made in front of the two diverging roads impacts the rest of his journey. Same as the persona, people are just like that traveler, traveling on the journey of life. The journey consists of many roads. Different choices on different roads lead to different destination and impact the rest of journey.

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The Road Not Taken: Text and Analysis. (2020, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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