How is the tone significant in the poem?  Does the sigh indicate regret, and if so, regret at what?  That both alternatives could not be chosen?Discuss the tone of “I shall be telling this...

How is the tone significant in the poem?  Does the sigh indicate regret, and if so, regret at what?  That both alternatives could not be chosen?

Discuss the tone of “I shall be telling this with a sigh / somewhere ages and ages hence” in “The Road Not Taken.”

Asked on by peluza74

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reidalot's profile pic

reidalot | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

An interesting question, especially in light of this poem as it explores the universal motif of decision making. Remember, every one of us must make decisions. In this case there are two choices, metaphorically, the two roads. Interestingly enough, these two choices are nearly equal: "Then took the other,as just as fair." Even the walking on the paths seems equal, "Had worn them really about the same." Both roads look promising. Also interestingly enough, the poet doubts "...if I should ever come back" : Once a choice is made at a crossroad in life, it becomes impossible to return to that juncture and re-choose. However, the irony is the sigh, for, paradoxically, in making a choice (a decision), one must, necessarily give up one of the options, one of the roads. The sigh is the wondering, the big question, the What If. What if I had taken the other road or made that other decision? Yet, the poet is satisifed at the end with his road because "that has made all the difference." This is an amazing poem exploring choices that are difficult to make because the end results seem so close, yet, ultimately, our choices in the journey of life are responsible for our final destination!

kwoo1213's profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Tone is the author's attitude towards the subject matter he/she is writing about. 

There is much debate about this part of the poem you refer to.  Only the author knows for sure; however, he is unavailable to us because he is deceased!  We can only speculate.

First, eNotes says that:

Critics of this poem are likely always to argue whether it is an affirmation of the crucial nature of the choices people must make on the road of life or a gentle satire on the sort of temperament that always insists on struggling with such choices.

We don't know if the narrator of the poem is sighing because he/she is content about the decision he/she made or if it is because he/she is wistful and wishes he/she would have chosen the OTHER path to take.  A sign can come from a sense of contentment or it can be born out of frustration or resignation.  We simply don't know for sure which, if any of the above, the narrator means.

For more on this, visit the link below.

tiff72's profile pic

tiff72 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

"On one occasion he [RF] told of receiving a letter from a grammar-school girl who asked a good question of him: 'Why the sigh?' That letter and that question, he said, had prompted an answer.
Amherst Mass April 1925

"Dear Miss Yates:

No wonder you were a little puzzled over the end of my Road Not Taken. It was my rather private jest at the expense of those who might think I would yet live to be sorry for the way I had taken in life. I suppose I was gently teasing them. I'm not really a very regretful person, but for your solicitousness on my behalf I'm
your friend always
Robert Frost"

[Finger, L. L.: "Frost's 'The Road Not Taken': a 1925 Letter come to Light", American Literature v.50]

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