The Road Not Taken: Notes & Summary Class 9 English Poetry Textbook Beehive

‘The Road Not Taken’ Notes: The poem is written by Robert Frost and here are given Notes with Summary of the poem ‘The Road Not Taken’. The Notes given here include Poetic Devices and a character sketch of the poet.

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POEM: The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth
Then took the other, 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

Then took the other, 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

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.

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 travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

- Robert Frost

MEANINGS

Diverge—extend in different directions from a common point; Wood—forest; Traveller—a person who travels; Undergrowth— the growth of small plants beneath the large trees; Fair—nice; Claim—demand, tell or ask as a right to have or own; Better Claim — showing that it is comparatively better; Grassy—full of grass; Wanted wear—had not been used and needed to be affected by use; Though—in spite of something; Lay—placed horizontally; Trodden—walked over; Know—to have information; Doubt—uncertainty; Age—a very long time; hence—here it means in the future ;Difference—a point or way in which people or things are not same.


SUMMARY (Poem Outline): The Road Not Taken 

In the poem ‘The Road Not Taken’, the poet stands at a junction of two roads and is in a dilemma which road he should choose. One road looks frequently travelled and the other one looks less travelled and grassy. The poet takes the second road and hopes that he would take the first road some other day although he is not sure whether he would ever come back. The poet after travelling a long distance realises that he has not made right choice by choosing the less travelled road. He thinks that if he had taken the other road, it would have been more fruitful. As a matter of fact, the poet is perhaps not happy with his choice of becoming a poet. He thinks it would have been more rewarding if he had chosen another profession.

Broadly, ‘The Road Not Taken’ can be divided into: 

  • Speaker Encounters a Fork in the Road. 
  • Speaker Chooses the Road Less Travelled. 
  • Speaker Thinks About the First Road. 
  • Speaker Reflects on his Decision. 
  1. Speaker Encounters a Fork in the Road. 
  2. The speaker comes across a fork while walking in the road in a ‘yellow wood’ in the autumn. 
  3. He says both paths looked inviting but he must choose one. 
  4. He tries to see where the first road goes but finds it difficult because the forest is quite dense. 
  5. Speaker Chooses the Road Less Travelled. 
  6. He decides to take the second road. 
  7. He thinks that it has been less used by travellers. 
  8. However, after travelling for a while on this path, he realises it has had been fairly used as well. 
  9. Speaker Thinks About the First Road. 
  10. He thinks back on both the roads and the leaves which lay on the roads. 
  11. Both roads hadn’t yet been used by travellers. 
  12. He decides to come back and travel by the first road. 
  13. However, he is aware that he might never return to the road. 
  14. Speaker Reflects on his Decision. 
  15. He says that in his old age, he will remember the two roads in the woods. 
  16. He will think about how he took the ‘road less travelled’ and how this decision has shaped his life. 

THEMES 

The major themes of this poem are: 

  • Choices 
  • Independence 
  • Uncertainty 

Choices 

  • The fork in the road is a metaphor for the choices one makes in life. 
  • The two paths are equally appealing to the speaker, but he chooses to weigh his options well before reaching a decision. 
  • The fork in the road or the two paths is symbolic of life and of the options that are thrown at us in life and how we make decisions. 

Independence 

  • The poem strongly emphasises on individual thought. 
  • The speaker decides to take the ‘road less travelled’ that is, he did not take the first and obvious choice, instead he chose the second path. 
  • He chose this knowing full well he won’t be able to go back to the first path. 
  • He decided to stand by his decision to do something different. 

Uncertainty 

  • The poem reveals two types of uncertainty in the poem. 
  • The first is the uncertainty that comes from facing in a dilemma. The speaker is unsure of which path to take. 
  • The second uncertainty is what the speaker feels later about his choice. After making his choice, he is unsure of whether he has made the correct choice. 
  • Even though he believes his choice ‘has made all the difference’, he still thinks about what would have happened if he had taken the other road. 

MESSAGE

The speaker, a traveller, faces a dilemma during a walk in a forest. Through this dilemma, Frost reflects on how such opportunities make a difference to one’s life. He also emphasises on the difficulties an individual faces while making a choice in life. 

Through the poem ‘The Road Not Taken’, the poet wants to tell us that in our life when we have to make a choice out of many choices, we should be very careful to do so. Otherwise, if in a haste we make a wrong choice, in the long run even our hard work does not yield as good result as if we had chosen a right one.

CHARACTERS 

The poem provides brief insights on Robert Frost, the narrator of the poem. 

  • Optimistic – He gracefully makes the most of his choices, opting to see the best side of things. 
  • Philosophical – He discloses an important philosophy in the metaphor of the road. We frequently encounter dilemmas where we are forced to make choices affecting our life. 
  • Simple – He uses an everyday situation to throw light on how simple decisions can affect our future. 
  • Wise – He decides to take the road not taken by the others. His regret at the path left behind also shows his wisdom. 

POETIC DEVICES: THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

The poem contains four stanzas and each stanza contains five lines. This is called a quintain. Thus, the poem contains four quintains.

A few key literary elements in the poem are: 

  • Metaphor 
  • Symbolic Imagery 
  • Tone 
  • Personification 
  • Repetition
  • Rhyme scheme 

Metaphor 

  • The poet uses the metaphor of the road to portray different life choices. 
  • The fork represents various dilemmas one faces in the course of their lifetime. 

Symbolic Imagery 

  • The ‘yellow wood’ and ‘leaves’ stand for autumn, signifying old age. 
  • The speaker is a ‘traveller’, signifying one who is on a journey and yet to reach a destination. 

Tone 

  • This conversational tone helps Frost convey a philosophical message in a simple manner. 
  • Assuming a friendly way of speaking, Frost handles deep topics of life choices and old age. 

Personification 

  • The paths have been personified, each given a personality to attract the traveller. 
  • Frost calls both the paths ‘just as fair’ hinting at how they both looked inviting. 

Repetition

Example: Somewhere ages and ages hence.

Rhyme Scheme

The rhyme-scheme of the poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ is ab aa b. The rhymes are end rhymes. Perfect rhymes are ‘lay’ and ‘way’ and slant rhymes are ‘both’ and ‘undergrowth’.

 The rhyme scheme of the whole poem is abaabcdccd. 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, a 

And sorry I could not travel both b 

And be one traveler, long I stood a 

And looked down one as far as I could a 

To where it bent in the undergrowth; b 

Then took the other, as just as fair, c 

And having perhaps the better claim, d 

Because it was grassy and wanted wear; c 

Though as for that the passing there c 

Had worn them really about the same, d 


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