person walking through a forest

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost
Start Free Trial

In the poem "The Road Not Taken," why does the poet describe the wood as yellow? Is it related to the season of the year, the time of the day, or both?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In this poem, "wood" means wooded area or a forest. The fact that Frost describes it as "yellow" is significant. It most likely refers to the color of the leaves. If they are yellow, this indicates that it is autumn. The speaker is contemplating his decision to take one of...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In this poem, "wood" means wooded area or a forest. The fact that Frost describes it as "yellow" is significant. It most likely refers to the color of the leaves. If they are yellow, this indicates that it is autumn. The speaker is contemplating his decision to take one of two paths. People often make the mistake that the speaker is certain he has taken the less traveled road. But since the roads look basically the same, he can never be sure. "Though as for that the passing there, / Had worn them really about the same." He hopes he has taken the less traveled road and will always wonder where the other path would have taken him. In the last stanza, the speaker imagines himself as an older man thinking back with that same uncertain hope that he did, in fact, take the road "less traveled by." Perhaps the yellow leaves and the suggestion of autumn was used to foreshadow the speaker thinking about the autumn of his life in the last stanza. This notion of the "autumn of his life" means a person's later years. Spring represents birth, summer symbolizes life and growth, and winter symbolizes death or sleep. The autumn of one's life is the period right before death. Therefore, the yellow symbolizes autumn which foreshadows the speaker's thoughts about the autumn of his life, a time when he is reevaluating some of the choices he has made. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team