In the first five lines of the poem, "The Road Not Taken," where does the speaker remember being?

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boomer-sooner's profile pic

boomer-sooner | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;"
 
     The writer remembers being in a yellow wood at a fork in the trail.  The setting gives hints the path is probably away from normal modes of transportation.  Further in the poem he suggests he will not likely come this way again, further backing the idea this is not a familiar place.  The term "yellow wood" suggests it is later into fall with the leaves having turned colors away from green.
 
      The combination of the clues tells us the writer was traveling alone along an unfamiliar trail way from home and not regularly frequented by others.  It was probably during the fall months.
dule05's profile pic

dule05 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

It may be useful to answer this question from another angle. If we attempt to understand this poem symbolically, then the first five lines of the poem will reveal a lot more than is seen on the surface. "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood" could mean that the speaker is at the crossroads in his life. Two roads can symbolize two life choices which are mutually exclusive. "Yellow wood" means it is autumn, so this may be symbolic of a specific life period. Namely, the speaker may be in his autumn years (later years of one's life). Taking all of this into consideration, we can assume that the speaker is an older man who has to deal with making an important life choice. He attempts to take a good look at one of the choices ("and looked down one as far as I could"), but he cannot predict the consequences of that potential choice or any other choice. These two roads in "a yellow wood" symbolize the future which is utterly unpredictable. So, the speaker will have to rely on his intuition, which he does, as the rest of the poem reveals.

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coachsteppdbs's profile pic

coachsteppdbs | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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Frost is referring to a "yellow" wood. This would be the woods of the Fall season. He is literally standing in a fall wood with a diverging path in front of him. This is the simple, literal answer. It is also possible that Frost is speaking in a non-literal manner and is recalling a moment in time where he was faced with a choice. A option in which he made a decision to take a certain path over another. This would refer back to his statement of "sorry I could not travel both." 

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