The Road Not Taken Analysis by Robert Frost | Structure, Poetic Form, Historical Perspective and Stanzas

The Road Not Taken Analysis: The Road Not Taken, written in 1915 by Robert Frost and published in 1916, is the first poem in the collection “Mountain Interval” and also one of his and the world’s most well-known poems. Although it is interpreted as a celebration of individualism and eccentricity at first glance, it is known for having a lot of different meanings and complex and potentially divergent interpretations. Robert Frost, through this poem, has talked about a phase in an individual’s life that all of us can very well relate to.

What is The Road Not Taken About?

The poet arrives at a critical juncture in life, two roads that diverge in a yellow wood. As per him, both paths yield anonymous outcomes. In the poem, the road goes on to symbolize our life. The poet says that the paths in life that we do not choose are ‘the roads not taken.

The path we choose shapes us and decides our future. Every decision we make has consequences; every path we walk directly or indirectly impacts our future and how we turn out to be as a person. The important message that the poet tries to give here is that we should be cautious while making any choice in life as every step leads us to our future destination, And once you take a step, there’s no place for regret as you cannot go back and undo your choices.

So we must be wise and contemplate our decisions at all times. The poet concludes on a melancholic note of how different circumstances and outcomes would have been having he chosen a different path.

What is The Road Not Taken About

The Road Not Taken Analysis Structure

The Road Not Taken is narrative by nature of four stanzas consisting of five lines in each. With the rhyming scheme as ‘ABAAB’, the first line rhymes with the third and fourth, and the second line rhymes with the fifth one. The meter used is iambic tetrameter, with each of the lines having four two-syllable feet. Although in almost every line, in different places throughout the poem, an iamb is replaced with an anapest. The variation in the rhythm of the poem gives it a feeling of naturalness.

The Road Not Taken Analysis Structure

The Road Not Taken Analysis Poetic Form

The poem consists of five verses encapsulated in four stanzas. Each line of the poem comprises four strained syllables. The rhyming pattern followed is strict and masculine, with the last line being an exception. This poem is a fine example of formal verse.

The Road Not Taken

The Road Not Taken Detailed Analysis and Stanzas

Stanza 1

“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.”


The first stanza opens with powerful imagery because of the diction used to depict two roads that diverge in a “yellow wood”, which showcases autumn colours. The poet expresses his regret as he cannot travel both roads because he is one person after all.

The writer stands at the fork in the road for a long time and tries to see where the two roads ultimately lead, but he cannot see very far as the roads are not straight and the forest is dense. It happens in our life, sometimes when we have a lot of choices in front of us and choosing one of them keeping in mind the pros and cons become very difficult.


In the very first stanza, the yellow wood indicating autumn symbolizes a period of change and how it is inevitable and how we need to embrace it at several points in our life. As he stands at this fork in the road, he is uncertain about where it will lead him.

By having the character examine the roads ahead of him, Frost is trying to emphasize that we all try our level best to guess what lies ahead for us in every opportunity or situation that we are presented within an attempt to find some sort of control and later a little comfort over our decisions.

We prefer to take as much time as we need to make these decisions so that we are able to justify our decisions when the regret of missing out on the other “roads” or opportunities starts to haunt us. In order to gain or achieve things in life, we have to learn how to sacrifice and let some things go. We cannot have everything we desire in life.

Stanza 2

“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.”


In the second stanza, the individual finally manages to make a decision and choose one path that he convinces himself to believe is better because it looked like not many people had traversed this road before. However, in the ninth and tenth lines, he is quick to add that both the roads looked equally used and promising, so it wasn’t as less travelled by as he thought it to be.


This stanza clears a widespread misunderstanding regarding this poem that one of the two roads is less travelled since the poet clearly states here that both the roads are “really about the same”. This part talks about the uncertainty of the author as he tries to convince himself that the decision he is taking is the right one for him, and much like everybody else, he is trying to weigh the pros and cons of the outcomes of both the roads.

The poet claims that according to him the path he chose “wanted wear”, which means that the path was appealing to him, he was tempted by it. This throws light on the nature of humans in general, how we will always choose the path that seems appealing or is of interest to us even though both the paths have equal potential to take us in whatever direction it is that we desire or are headed to.

No matter how satisfied we are we in the paths we have taken and our lives, we will always wonder about the person we could have been had we taken a different path. The what-ifs of the several opportunities left behind never seem to stop haunting us.

Stanza 3 

“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”


The poet tells us that both the paths that lay in front of him were similar that morning and no one had stepped or walked on them yet as they were still green in colour. The poet decided that he would keep one of the paths for some other day, even though deep down inside he knew how one path leads to another and he might never be able to come back here again.


The stanza shows us that the author is finally being true to himself, as he makes the vital decision of which road to take. His honesty provides us with a reality check as he makes his final decision. He notices that both equally promising choices lay in front of him, and it is up to him to choose which direction to go in.

Sometimes in life, when we reach an end like this, we are able to make quick decisions based on what we learned from different people’s experiences and stories. These experiences leave a permanent mark on us, which in turn affects our choices and form our bias towards or against a particular path.

After making the decision, the author tries to give himself false hope by saying he will save the other road for another morning even though he clearly knows that once he makes a decision, there is no reversing it no matter how much he regrets later.

There are many defining decisions a person has to take in his or her life that may shape their futures, and sometimes, when we select an option in these moments, they change the course of our whole life, and there’s no turning back from there. That is where the regret and terror of not exploring or trying out other options disturb us and haunts us forever.

Stanza 4

“I shall be telling this with a sigh-

Somewhere ages and ages hence-

Two roads diverged in a wood and

I took the one less-travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.”


The poet believes that in the future he will take deep breaths and talk about how once upon a time he came across two options in the path of life and he decided to listen to his gut and choose the one that tempted or fascinated him or which he believed was less travelled by. And that has made all the difference in his life. He is who he is right now because of the choices he has made.


The last stanza throws light on human beings’ nature of regret. When it comes down to any major decision in life, we always know that no matter what we choose or how happy we are with our choices, we will always wonder about the possibilities of the choices we failed to make.

As the writer steps towards the road chosen by him, he can already feel filled with regret in the future. The writer decides that he will not be honest when he retells the story of this decision as it will invalidate his choice of the path he took.

He decides to tell people that he took the path less travelled by to make himself look like he took a challenge which most people don’t dare to and actually succeeded. The writer does not specify if the “difference” he is talking about is a good one or bad. It is not clear from his speech if this is th3e difference he wanted in life.

This poem tells us that you can never plan out your life or where each path will take you. All you can do is make a wise decision and be brave and not live on regrets.

The Road Not Taken Summary

The Road Not Taken Analysis Historical Perspective

Robert Frost spent the years 1912 to 1915 in England, were among his many acquaintances was the writer Thomas. Thomas and Frost became close friends and went on quite a number of walks together. One such day while they were walking together, they came across two roads. Thomas was indecisive about which road to travel by and in retrospect often lamented that they should have taken the other one instead.

After Frost came back to New Hampshire in 1915, he sent Thomas a copy of “The Road Not Taken”. Thomas took the poem very seriously and personally, and it may have been significant in Thomas’s decision to enlist in World War I. Sadly Thomas was killed two years later in the Battle of Arras.

The Road Not Taken Analysis Personal Commentary

Robert Frost’s poetic masterpiece is definitely the most infamously misunderstood poem as of now. joining elements of form and content, arresting artistic phraseology and metaphors, the poem is mostly read by many without truly being understood. The archetypal conundrum is the main attraction of the poem; readers can instantly relate to their personal experiences.

Forks and woods are used as metaphors relating to decisions and choices. Similarly, forks are representative of an everlasting struggle against fate. As human beings are free to select as per their will, their fate is unknown to them. ‘The Road Not Taken’ tries to steer clear of advising on selecting a definite path. The author’s take on this is slightly complicated.

The grassy roads, as well as yellow woods, represent the present as the individual views it from a future perspective. This self-realization is pathetic and somewhat ironic in itself. The future self will regret first his decision about taking the road less traveled by. In hindsight, his regret is everlasting at this point.