Symbols in The Road Not Taken (By Robert Frost)


Symbols in The Road Not Taken (By Robert Frost)
SYMBOLS
IN THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
written by
ROBERT FROST

The Road Not Taken is one of my favorite English poems. I translated it into Russian:

http://stihi.ru/2008/02/11/671. &

https://www.chitalnya.ru/work/26699/

The Road Not Taken is a great masterpiece of literature. Everything is delightful and beautiful in this poem: speaker, nature, wood with its roads and leaves on the grass. At the same time, the author tells us about some difficulties in life choices. Without recognizing that Frost’s forest way represents the road of life and experience, our understanding and appreciation of this poem remains limited and shallow. The poem is full of symbols. And every symbol has its own definition.
Symbols in the poem The Road Not Taken:
In the beginning of the poem Frost ask us to imagine a fork in the middle of the wood.

“TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both”

These two lines have many symbols: roads – our choices, two roads – every time we have more than one choice. “Two roads diverged” – we can’t take two roads together. And I think, “wood” is a symbol of our life with huge opportunities, many directions, places etc. In my opinion, it is very important to the speaker that the wood is “yellow”. Why? Is it a fall? Yes. It is a fall in the wood, but Robert Frost tell us about his ages – he is not young already. He is elderly man now and may be the most part of his life is in the past. Nobody know exactly, what does it mean, we can only guess why author chose autumn.

And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

“One traveler” is a symbol of vey responsible and lonely person. Nobody can tell him which way he should take. It should be his own decision and he isn’t going to ask somebody, “Which way is main?” One road “bent in the undergrowth”, what does it mean? Here is a symbol again! In my opinion, the author tells us about the way which take its beginning in the past and it has its roots. Author had relatives and friends, parents and children and some of them are there, but only in his thoughts, mentally.

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,

The other road is “as just as fair” is symbol of absolutely different way and it seems to be much better than first road. The author tells us that it is “ the better claim”. We can imagine this road like “grassy” – very nice, beautiful and “wanted wear”. Why is it “wanted wear”? I think it is another symbol: the road invite travelers to follow it.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.


And again there are symbols: first, “and both that morning equally lay”. Could roads lay? Of course, not! But we usually don’t know, what happen, if we make one decision, may be different way would be better. It is not a lay, but it is uncertainty. So, I think, “equally lay” is a symbol of doubts, problems. Nobody know if he or she can go back, because “in leaves no step had trodden back.” If we can look for road ahead, we usually don’t go back, because it is impossible, the life road never leads back, in the past, only mentally, in our mind. That is why Robert Frost wrote “ no step had trodden back.”

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

In these lines I see the next symbol “how way leads on to way.” Because during our life we make decisions every time. We always have to make choices which leads everybody to new problems in the life.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
“Ages and ages hence” – what a nice symbol! May be we could do something in the past, but we didn’t. 5 years ago we didn’t do something very good and now we can’t, because we mist many good opportunities. Now author sighs, because he is very sorry.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The last symbol in the poem “all the difference”. Robert Frost tells us about importance in all our life choices. If we make good choice, it could be a good result in future life, but bad choice leads us to bad results. Our results depend on our decisions. The last symbol in poem “has made all the difference” leads us to believe that decision was an important one.

In conclusion, the poem The Road Not Taken is full of symbols. These symbols become words where the abstract notions of life and choice find concrete form. Robert Frost artfully combines all life symbols with realistic and picturesque environment. We can imagine a nice beautiful forest and now we understand, that our lives are like roads, with splitting paths representing the different choices that we must make. As we live our lives we travel down the roads, rarely going back. So, I see all this poem like a very unusual wise symbol of human life.





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© 18.08.2011 Татьяна Дюльгер
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Inna Ehrlich       27.11.2013   04:20:03
Отзыв:   положительный
Hello Tatiana,

"The Road Not Taken" reminds me of Okudzhava′s "Two Roads" (translated by me)


Two Roads

http://video.mail.ru/mail/lee48/7225/7218.html - link to the song in Russian

It′s not possible to merge endless Winters and short Summers
These two have peculiar habits and don′t look alike at all
For a reason are on Earth two roadways - Life is a bummer
Walking That - your feet get weary; Taking This - disturbs your soul

And the woman in a pink dress who is standing at the window
Stating that in separation you can′t live without the tears
As in front of her two roads - This and That - Which is she into?
This is beautiful but worthless, That essential appears

Even if you try it all - kill yourself or play a chancer
And wherever our passions carry us, we might imply
This and That still wait for us, two roadways - we have no answer
But we cannot live without them, like without both Earth and Sky

Regards
Inna
Татьяна Дюльгер       27.11.2013   06:01:23

Hi, Inna! Great poem and you made a great translation!
Here is a song of Okudzhava:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCM0LhfjVyM

You know, I translated the poem of Robert Frost. Svetlana Strausova sings:
https://www.chitalnya.ru/work/646767/

Great job! I enjoy Svetlana′s singing.








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