In The Road Not Taken, what are the poem's key images in the order in which they appear?

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The obvious visual image of a winding path in Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken is supported by other sensory images that the poem conjures. Frost's own love of nature is confirmed in this poem and his ability to create distinction when there is no apparent distinction is, in fact, what this poem is all about.

1. The "yellow" wood suggests that the seasons are changing as Fall arrives and this increases the reader's awareness that there is a consistency, even in change as the Fall follows its faithful pattern after the Summer. However, the reader should not overlook the way that the Fall changes the landscape dramatically. 

2. There is an appeal to the sense of touch as the tactile image associated with "the undergrowth" and how it is "grassy and wanted wear" brings a more concrete and tangible element to the poem. The reader does not have to rely only on the visual senses and is affected not only by how the wood looks but also how it must feel and can imagine walking there him or herself with the (possibly long) grass and dirt underfoot.

3. Leaves often have a distinct smell as they rot and as these leaves remain undisturbed and are not "trodden black," the reader may be able to imagine a very earthy smell, again alluding to the beauty of nature. This may be an obscure reference but, just as the poem can be interpreted various ways, so too can its imagery.

4. These same leaves would also appeal to the sense of sound as leaves are loved for making a crackling and scrunching sound when they are dry and brittle. There is a playfulness and youthfulness attached to the thought of jumping on leaves and making these sounds. Unfortunately for the narrator, he is taking his choice far too seriously to really appreciate this aspect. 

5. Apart from the overall visual image this poem introduces, there are individual references. The "sigh" may even have the reader emitting the same sound as if he or she sympathizes with the narrator.  

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