AD's English Literature : Why You Must Experience Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" At Least Once In Your Lifetime?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Why You Must Experience Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" At Least Once In Your Lifetime?



Robert Frost based the theme of The Road Not Taken on classical comedies of our ‘choices’ and conveys complex theories of life. The poem, Frost’s finest, depends for its appeal on the mistaken identities of two sets of twins both separated in their forestry ways. The comedy ends cynically with the reunion of both sets of twins, after a bewildering series of confusions - watchful waiting. In fact, Frost makes his poem more complex when it comes that making a choice is itself the dilemma. We can well remind the famous crossroad puzzle of the Cast Away and can redeem  The Road Not Taken as an autobiography of everyman. Like that of Tagore’s verse, ‘nadir e par kahe ccharea niswas, o parete sarba suhk amar biswas’( this side of the river says that the other side is more happy)

It is a very simple looking poem with profound nuances and begins in delight and ends in wisdom. As there of course is some confusion about what Frost really meant. However, we would like to go by the simple explanation that The Road Not Taken concerns choices that we face in life and the decisions we take with a certain amount of risk. One can recapitulate on one's decision on a later date when the path has been walked - of course, with a sigh. But   Frost definitely means taking the decision is the real difference that is made.

One day, the traveler (Robert Frost representing everyman), traveling all alone, reaches a point where the road forks into two. He faces a dilemma as to which road to take to continue his journey. He is unable to decide which road to follow. He pauses for a long time, ‘And sorry he could not travel both’.  He gives a careful thought to which path he should follow. Then he decides to choose that road which seems to be less traveled: 
“And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could”
 He feels it will make all the difference to his future. He decides to save the other road for another day, thought he knows that he will never get a chance to go back to it. Later, he wishes that he had taken the other road.
  
Frost's poetry mainly reflects life in rural New England, and the language he used was the uncomplicated speech of that region. Although Frost concentrates on ordinary subject matter, he evokes a wide range of emotions, and his poems often shift dramatically from humorous tones to tragic ones. Much of his poetry  is concerned with how people interact with their environment, and though he saw the beauty of nature, he also saw its potential dangers. Frost listened to the speech in his country world north of Boston, and he recorded it. He had what he called 'The ruling passion in man ... a gregarious instinct to keep together by minding each other's business.'   Frost continued to mind his neighbours’ speech and business in his volume Mountain Interval, which included the poems The Road Not Taken,   An Old Man's Winter Night, Birches, Putting in the Seed, Snow, and A Time to Talk.

The traveler feels that after ages from now he would be telling about his decision with a sigh. He would tell how the less frequented road, and that had made all the difference in his life. Poem  describes how someone could take a risk, or take the easy way out, but mostly everyone takes the smooth grassy path, but the smart people who challenge their minds, take the rocky, bumpy path that is hard to travel and very tiring, but they keep on going through determination. He always amazes us with his rhythm and other poetic devices. He also takes a simple thought and extends it in exceedingly amazing ways that wish we could do ourselves. Frost did not say the roads were the same; they could look similar, but could not be the same as they were going in different directions - diverged. His choice, as in all our lives, was to make a decision concerning direction.  Frost presented the difficulty or making a choice in life. We cannot travel all the roads available to us. We have to make a choice. The dilemma faced by the traveler making his choice is the dilemma that we all face at some point in our life:
“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 traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

It is a common misconception that in life we have to maintain what is commonly accepted as normality. Robert Frost challenges this. The road less travelled by is the traveler’s way of telling us that he did not accept the norm he lived beyond the limitations set by others. The only profitable point of view from which The Road Not Taken can be regarded is one that, while giving distinctness to the serious error of unclean exposure and to the frequent feebleness of ideology which reduce large portions of the creativity to tedious and helpless receptions, leaves our vision clear for the occasional glimpses of uncanny beauty that the poem discloses: knowing the unknown or seeing the unseen like that of Tennyson’s Ulysses. The absurdities, the crudities, in which Frost indulges, are almost unlimited and all but omnipresent and it is here Nature interpreted through human experience.



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An English Teacher;    M. A.(English) , D. Ed., B. Ed., UGC- NET Qualified

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