I have to answer questions on "The Road Not Taken," like "what decision would the author make?" and I don't know how to answer them. Can you help me understand this poem?

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mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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This poem by Robert Frost is a very complicated poem though it seems quite simple on the surface.  To understand the poem is to look at the author as standing still looking at two paths in a woods, each going a different way.  Put yourself at that point, looking at the two paths yourself.  The speaker is not really certain of which choice to make as the other choice may be the better one. Now, think of how YOU would make a choice about which path to follow. Would you later consider telling about your choice with a "sigh" which implies regret? Would you make the choice, live with your choice with a sense of humor about which you chose, and not look back with regret for what cannot be changed?  Frost's words about this choice, "And that has made all the difference" to me indicates that any adult must make choices, not always knowing which is the right path, but to live life to the fullest and be content with your choices.  For in reality, life is full of choices, and many cannot be changed.  When my father-in-law's dog attacked my son and literally tore his face apart, I could have forced my husband to choose between me and his father by refusing to go anywhere his father was present.  A terrible choice, but I chose to continue contact without the dog present and never regretted not hanging on to my bitterness over what happened.  Yes, it changed many relationships, many paths in the future I couldn't foresee, and yet, it made all the difference in my life.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Robert Frost wrote the following letter to a grammar-school girl who questioned him about his poem and in particularly what he meant by the "sigh" in the final stanza:

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"

"The Road Not Taken" is obviously autobiographical. Frost decided to lead a simple rural life as a gentleman-farmer and devote himself to writing poetry. You would do well to look him up in an encyclopedia or in one of his many biographies and explain the sort of humble life he chose to lead close to nature. Frost's simple lifestyle, not unlike that of his fellow New Englander Henry David Thoreau, is reflected in many of his other poems, including "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening," and "Mending Wall."

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