How does the diction contribute to the flavor and meaning of "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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"The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost uses fairly simple colloquial diction despite following traditional poetic form and having occasional syntactic inversions. The poem consists of four five-line stanzas rhymed ABAAB in iambic tetrameters with frequent anapestic substitutions. The rhyme words are mainly monosyllabic. 

The restraint in using poetic devices such as figures of speech gives the poem a conversational tone, approximating what Frost in his critical works discusses as the "sound of sense." Phrases such as "Had worn them really about the same" project a narrative persona of an ordinary traveler, perhaps talking to a friend on returning from a walk.

This casual tone constructs meaning by suggesting that the rhetorical situation of the poem is not one of a momentous choice, but rather a casual decision, of the sort any person might make while taking a walk. Thus when we discover that the decision has made "all the difference" we are led to conclude that the ordinary small decisions we make in our lives can have major and unforeseen consequences. For example, a student choosing a certain seat in a classroom, which is a fairly casual decision, might leading to sitting next to a future spouse; although the decision itself was fairly casual, the outcome, meeting someone you marry, changes every aspect of your life.

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