“The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost


One of Robert Frost’s most famous poems, “The Road not Taken” represents a dilemma that is faced by all one that is reflected in our actions and thoughts. This poem includes metaphors that outline the manner in which we decide our fate by aligning ourselves with a certain route. One reason why this poem is said to include metaphors is due to the fact that each line includes images or words that represent various actions and thoughts that we all face during the course of life. Therefore, the first reason for this poem being a metaphor is due to the fact that it presents possibilities- either one of the well-traveled path and the other of the less traveled one. The second reason for this poem being a metaphor is due to the fact that each image symbolizes a dilemma or that enthralls and yet constrains us all. The dilemma of having to choose between the different possibilities. (Finger, 1978, p.478).

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The opening line contains an image of a “yellow wood” that has two diverged roads. From the onset, the reader is made to understand the pattern that life sets out for us-to choose amongst two crucial possibilities. “Yellow wood” is in itself a metaphor for the fact the substantial time has passed and now, the crucial decision is upon us to decide the way we would want to live our life. The struggle that each individual faces has been summarized and projected perfectly by the image of “two roads diverged”. It continues with the second line as the poet highlight’s the struggle of each individual who is limited by life and its options. The metaphors are used repeatedly and more are presented to express this crisis that fate creates for all.

“Undergrowth”, “grass”, “wanted “wear” are all images that act as metaphors for the poet’s thoughts that are universal in their appeal. While the undergrowth is used to represent the uncertain future, grassy and wanted wear signify the “less-traveled” route. (Cited in Sullivan, 2000).

The poet decides to choose the path that seemed to” have the better claim”; but goes on to discover that both paths were in fact the same. The less traveled route signifies the more difficult path –highlighting the poet’s characteristic to prove himself. Not to become a mere follower but in fact the leader-one who creates paths for others. This metaphor usage can be used to represent all those entrepreneurs who all set out to create the unknown and the new.

However, as the poem continues the seemingly “more” arduous path is proven to be as difficult as the less traveled one. A metaphor to represent the fact that if one has the capacity to overcome all difficulties and to work hard, even the more difficult path can become as “simple” as the other “more traveled” one. (Pritchard, 1984).

The poet consoles himself with the notion of” I kept the first for another day” but at the same time doubts that happening. This metaphor represents the inability of one being able to go back after choosing the path that one has chosen. The poet says that he “should be saying this with a sigh”; depicting that the poet is experiencing pangs of self-pity. The poem ends with a positive note as the determined poet seems contented with the decision and devoted to the road he chose.


Thus, this poem cannot be said to be a mere walk in the woods but a metaphorical one that from the onset till its conclusion, projects various images that are representative of life’s various choices.

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Kearns, Katherine (1994). Robert Frost and a Poetics of Appetite. Britain: Cambridge University Press.

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