Road Not Taken

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Life is a journey with a choice of many roads to travel. Everyone is a traveler on the roads of life and must choose his own path. In Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” the traveler must decide which road is best for him. Does he take the path most traveled or does he go down “the one less traveled by” (19)? When one takes the road “ less traveled” (19) he is choosing his own path in life rather than following the mainstream. Frost gives support to the idea that the choices one makes in life makes him the person he is.

Frost’s importance as a poet derives from the power and memorability of particular poems. “The Death of the Hired Man” (from North of Boston) combines lyric and dramatic poetry in blank verse. “After Apple-Picking” (from the same volume) is a free-verse dream poem with philosophical undertones. “Mending Wall” (all published in North of Boston) demonstrates Frost’s simultaneous command of lyrical verse, dramatic conversation, and ironic commentary. “The Road Not Taken” and “Birches” (from Mountain Interval) and the oft-studied “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (from New Hampshire) exemplify Frost’s ability to join the pastoral and philosophical modes in lyrics of unforgettable beauty (Academic American Encyclopedia).

The books and writers most popular with the public are rarely the ones most highly regarded by critics. Robert Frost was the most popular American poet of the twentieth century. Most Americans recognize his name, the titles of and lines from best-known poems, and even his face and the sound of his voice. Given his immense popularity, it is a remarkable testimony to the range and depth of his achievements that he is also considered, by those qualified to judge, to be one of the greats, if not the very greatest, of modern American poets (Literature Online).

Robert Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874. He moved to New England at the age of eleven and became interested in reading and writing poetry during his high school years in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He was enrolled at Dartmouth College in 1892, and later at Harvard, but never earned a formal degree (Academy of American Poets)

Frost worked at a variety of jobs in his late teens and early twenties, including mill hand, newspaper reporter, and teacher in his mother’s school. In 1894, a poem of his entitled, “My Butterfly” was published in a New York journal, The Independent. This seemed to be the start of a successful career as a poet, but he would in fact endure nearly twenty years of isolation and neglect (Literature Online).

Frost married Elinor Miriam White in 1895. She was a major inspiration to his literature until she died in 1938. The first son died at an early age from cholera. This was one of many family tragedies that Frost would endure. He and Elinor had five other children, the youngest living only three days. Frost inherited a farm from his grandfather and lived on the farm for ten years. He sold the farm in 1911 and moved to England.

It was abroad that Frost met and was influenced by such contemporary British poets as Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves. While in England, Frost also established a friendship with the poet Ezra Pound, who helped to promote and publish his work. By the time Frost returned to the United States in 1915, he had published two full-length collections, A Boy’s Will and North of Boston, and his reputation was established. By the nineteen-twenties, he was the most celebrated poet in America, and with each new book—including New Hampshire (1923), A Further Range (1936), Steeple Bush (1947), and In the Clearing (1962)—his fame and honors (including four Pulitzer Prizes) increased (Academy of American Poets).

Upon his return to America, Frost’s outward life began to take the shape that it would follow thereafter: publication of new and collected volumes at fairly regular intervals; teaching appointments, often sinecures, at Amherst, Dartmouth, Harvard, and...
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