‘The Road Not Taken’, a poem by Robert Frost, explores the decision a lone traveller in the middle of the woods must make, both in a literal sense and in a metaphorical one that reflects the choice of a pathway down life. Moniza Alvi’s ‘The Country at my Shoulder’, on the other hand, sees the speaker exploring an identity and path of life she neither had the chance nor choice to take. Both poems explore the concept of pathways and choice in life; however, they do so in different ways chosen with a specific intent by the writers.
The first thing one should notice upon looking at the two poems is the considerable difference in length between the two and a closer look should reveal the rhyme schemes in them: ABAAC in ‘The Road Not Taken’, while there is none in ‘The Country at my Shoulder’. Using these two elements of the poems’ structures, the writers succeed in conveying the internal turmoil- or lack of- the writer in each of the two poems is feeling. ‘The Road Not Taken’ is noticeably shorter than ‘The Country at my Shoulder’ and has a regular rhythm, reflecting the ease of which the decision was made by the writer in his choice. ABAAC, rather than a simple ABABAB, seems to express a slight indecisiveness about the writer; however, the fact that there is a rhyme scheme at all shows that the writer is level-headed and reasonably confident in their decision. The opposite holds true for ‘The Country at my Shoulder’- there is no rhyme scheme whatsoever, just as there is no order in the verses of the poem as it is through them the speaker expresses the certain confusion and conflict they experience in the Indian country they are in, as though they are unsure as to how to respond and act towards everything around them due to the fact that their choice in life and heritage was not made by them.
The length of the poem portrays the length of time the choice of path will affect the writer’s life- this would appear to be true for both poems. The two roads the writer...
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