Frosts The Road Not Taken

???You have to be careful of that one; it??™s a trick poem ??“ very tricky.??? This was Robert Frost??™s own comment regarding his famous poem that according to him has been widely misinterpreted. The famous final three lines, of a poem better known under the title of The Road Less Traveled rather than it??™s original title, has turned into one of pop culture??™s favorite lines of encouragement. According to popular beliefs, the verses cite the fulfilling outcome of embarking a journey that is less traveled by. On August 23, 1953, in the Bread Loaf Writers??™ Conference, however, Frost claimed that this poem was dedicated to a friend who had gone off to war. A friend, who whichever road he took would regret not taking the other. Through assessing the tone of the poem, and an especially careful look into some key contents of The Road Not Taken, this essay analyzes the clues in which Frost reveals his true intention of writing the poem that contradicts with most popular beliefs.
The poem begins with an important imagery that is not only significant to the setting of the poem, but also to the tone of the first stanza. ???Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,??? abruptly introduces readers to the circumstances of the poem. The narrator walks in a forest to find a fork in the road. Since he cannot embark on both paths, the narrator understands that a decision has to be made. So, the narrator observes both trails to figure out which road may lead to a better outcome.
The symbolism of ???yellow??? is very important to the tone of the first stanza. The color yellow reveals that this event took place during autumn. In poetry, autumn often represents death, or gloom in this case. The choice of this particular season is important, because of the emotional impact it may have on the interpretations of readers. Had Frost chosen spring over autumn; the tone of the stanza would differ. For example, ???And sorry I could not travel both???. The interpretation of ???sorry??? would differ based on the supporting tone. When using, the lively tone of spring, ???sorry??? could be inferred as an adventurous ball of energy where the person wishes he could take both at once no matter what the result may come to be. But in using a darker tone, ???sorry??? may be implied as a painful decision, or something more with more weight. Either way, the two seasons would leave contradicting impressions.
The second stanza points out that the person has made a decision. The simile, ???as just as fair???, may forecast that the road would lead to the same outcome in the end, although the person may still have hope for a better ending. Also, the personification that the grass ???wanted wear???, may symbolize a force that drew him into making such a decision. Something about that particular road must have appealed to him more than the other. As the person went along the road he selected, however, he realizes the road may just be about the same as the other.
There is another emphasis on a depressing tone in the third stanza. ???In leaves no step had trodden black???, mentions the fallen leaves of autumn that would turn black when being stepped on. Again, this is an evident repetition of autumn setting the tone of a stanza. This time however, the season is deeply associated with black. When connected to the dead leaves of autumn, black may become a color that represents death, mourning, or doubt. In this stanza the person shows doubt and regret along the way. Though the narrator has a desire to purse the other trail someday, he knows that eventually one thing would lead to another. Hence, a return to the same fork in the road may be impossible.
The fourth stanza is usually the most misinterpreted one, among all four. It is written quite vaguely, so that readers may have too much room to jump into conclusions. For instance, it starts with ???I shall be telling this with a sigh???. Questions may arise whether ???sigh??? has a negative or a positive connotation. There is also a popular belief that this poem has a triumphant, and somewhat nostalgic, view of a choice made in the past. The narrator, however uses the present tense, saying, ???Somewhere ages and ages hence:??? indicating that he may not even know the full consequences of his decision yet, because the narrator may still be walking the path. Then, there is Frost??™s probably most famous quote, ???Two roads diverged in a wood, and I ??“/ I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.??? The quote could mean so many things, to various readers. Some may take it directly ?¬??“ that the road has already made a difference. Some, however, may think that it may just be an irony, because no difference has been described throughout the poem. In fact, in the second stanza, the narrator said that the road was just about the same.
The Road Not Taken is a trick poem indeed. Readers could come to false conclusions very easily, because, thanks to popular culture, the final three lines of this poem are more famous than the poem itself. Frost has been very consistent with his dark tone, and purpose from the very first line. Therefore, it is almost impossible to comprehend the author??™s true intention, just by knowing the vague final stanza.