“Our journeys shape who we become”.
Choose a poem that you have studied where the speaker has been on a journey or where they have had an experience that changed them.
Write the details of your chosen poem
Title: ‘The Road Not Taken’
Poet: Robert Frost
What journey/experience did the poet have that changed them?
The speaker in ‘The Road Not Taken’ takes an early morning walk through an autumnal wood and begins to reflect on his life and the choices that he has made throughout his life. He becomes cognisant of the impact that our decisions can have on our lives in that when we accept one path in life, we are in turn rejecting another.
Describe the journey/experience you have identified. Consider how the journey or experience affected the speaker in your chosen poem.
In this allegorical poem we are presented with an autumnal setting ‘yellow wood’ indicative of the dying year and perhaps the poet’s advancing age. The speaker is out walking one morning and comes to an intersection. He is faced with the choice of which one to take. However, if we are to interpret this poem on a metaphorical level, this poem is about life’s journey and the choices that we make that determine the course of our lives.
The intersection that the speaker has arrived at symbolises some personal juncture or crisis in their life. The speaker describes how he is ‘sorry’ that he could ‘not travel both’. The poet become pensive and describes how he didn’t rush his decision ‘long I stood/And looked down one as far as I could/To wear it bent in the undergrowth’. We see the poet’s daring nature in his decision to take the other path because ‘it was grassy and wanted wear’. The poet becomes nostalgic in his description of these ‘Though as for that, the passing there/Had worn them really about the same’, perhaps signifying his regret or dissatisfaction with his decision. The anxiety and uncertainty that the poet faced in relation to his decision is adroitly evoked in the visual image ‘And both that morning equally lay/in leaves no step had trodden black’. The poet’s sense of regret is deftly evoked in the lines ‘Yet knowing how way leads onto to way, I doubted if I should ever come back’. The poet becomes dejected as he reflects on all the missed opportunities that accompanied the rejected path. His despondency is deftly captured through the aural image ‘I shall be telling this with a sigh’. However, the speaker’s acceptance of his decision is skilfully evoked through the use of repetition of the image ‘Two roads diverged in a wood and I -/I took the one less travelled by, /And that has made all the difference’. The poem and the poet have come full circle in that the poet has come to accept his choice.